It’s official, Harley Quinn and The Birds of Prey was unable to impress at the box office with a very lackluster opening weekend. And you know what? Good! Hopefully, Hollywood will be able to learn from this.
This article contains certain spoilers for Harley Quinn and The Birds of Prey. Ca-Caw!
News about Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey underperforming (by quite a lot) at the box office have been hitting the web over the past couple of days. Of course, certain fans (for some weird reason) decided to ignore all such news pieces and say that everyone should wait for the final box office results to come out.
Well, the opening weekend numbers have been posted and it’s not a pretty picture. Harley Quinn and the BoP was this week’s lone major movie release and still people refused to go watch it. Ouch!
With an estimated $33.25 million from 4,236 cinemas, this R-rated flick is a new low for the DCEU. Even Shazam was able to post numbers in the $50 million range. Warner Bros. was expecting HQ and the BoP to open near $45 million. I wonder what type of conversation the suits will have with Margot Robbie after such a result.
And while oversea gross can help films, even that looks bleak for Harley’s solo adventure. After debuting in 78 markets, the movie was able to only collect an estimated $48 million. As of writing this, the total worldwide gross sits at around $81 million against a reported production budget of $84 million.
With the promotion and advertisement budget added, some say it will need to cross the $250 million line to begin profiting the studio.
Some people are saying the R-rating hurt it. And frankly, after seeing the type of content shown in this movie, it could have easily been a PG-13 movie. However, that’s neither here or there because a number of R-rated films have been able to open higher than this offering.
It will be interesting to see how HQ and the BoP holds at the box office by next week. Maybe some people will decide to watch it for Valentine’s Day? Perhaps it’s a Galentine’s Day choice?
Anyway, I’m okay with it not doing well. I’ve already shared that I’m fine with movies that queerbait and feature poorly written queer representation not doing well. I mean, how the heck can a movie starring Harley Quinn be created without it being queer? Uff!
Her bisexuality is mentioned in passing at the beginning of the film. For some, it might even come across as another example of the trope where every woman is interested in ‘experimenting’ with their sexuality during their college years.
Even Renee Montoya being a lesbian and having an ex is something that Harley says directly to the audience instead of showing it effectively onscreen.
And then there’s the flamboyant portrayal of Black Mask by actor Ewan McGregor.
It’s a complete mess. So, yay, for it flopping. I wonder if Disney might change stuff up with the queer character the studio is planning to introduce in the upcoming Jungle Cruise movie.
John Wick 3 had better queer representation!
As for the rest of the reasons why I think HQ and the BoP didn’t work, well, one of the factors involves the movie not respecting the source material. I understand that a live-action adaptation doesn’t have to follow every comic book canon. The MCU movies don’t and they’re doing incredibly well.
However, you can still see that the MCU movies respect the comic book lore while building on it or molding it to do something different to appeal to the broadest audience possible.
HQ and the BoP, on the other hand, threw a lot out the window to make it a Harley Quinn movie that encroached on the Birds of Prey brand. That fact that a Birds of Prey movie was created without Barbara Gordon in it was reason enough for certain comic book fans to not give this film a chance.
It’s like creating an X-Men movie without Professor X. Barbara helped create the Birds of Prey team and taking that away just to imply Harley (of all people!) is the reason it was formed is (for the lack of a better word) disrespectful to fans of the Birds of Prey franchise.
And then there the complete revision of Cassandra Cain (who has her own small but passionate fandom). HQ and the BoP ruined her character for no legitimate reason. The film could have created an original character if they wanted a little pickpocket of Asian descent for diversity points or something.
Furthermore, I hope the current performance makes Margot Robbie realize who Harley is as a character. Even though Robbie says she’s a huge fan, I think she doesn’t realize what the fans want from the fictional character.
Yes, Harley has tons of supporters around the world. There’s no denying that. But, at her core, Harley isn’t a leader or a mentor. She is someone who (kind of) follows others. Some of the best Harley moments in the comic books are when she’s interacting with other big names such as Batman, Catwoman, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and more.
Harley is the wild card of a team. And seeing the latest DCEU film focusing on her as the main character while using the Birds of Prey team as support to make Harley shine was disappointing. At the end of the film, she took Cassandra under her wing. Like, why? The movie also tried very hard to not make her a villain. Again, why?
If Warner Bros. and Robbie wanted to make a Harley solo-film they should have featured a random group of characters as seen in her comic book series.
And then there’s the issue of how the male characters are treated in HQ and the BoP. Y’all every man who appears in this film is bad for no apparent reason. It’s fine if someone wants to tell such a narrative, but for movies to make money at the box office, a balance needs to be maintained.
Having all men be bad in a story, or having all women be bad in a story, just doesn’t make sense to me. That’s why I still think one of Harley’s team members should have been a man, again, similar to her comic book series.
Anyway, at least the soundtrack for this film is amazing!
In the end, some say that this was a vanity project for Robbie to make her portrayal of Harley Quinn a major thing in the superhero box office competition. Well, that seems to have failed.
Robbie is great as Harley. She just needs to realize which lane she should keep Harley in. Trying to compete with the DC Comics big guns like the Batfamily, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. won’t work in her favor as far as what the mainstream audience wants.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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