Like renaming an airline in the wake of a disaster, Warner Bros.’ “Birds of Prey” appears to have had its title changed just days after release, when it failed to take flight at the box office on opening weekend.
Movie-goers at three major US chains — AMC, Cinemark and Regal — might be surprised to see the DC Comics film’s title displayed as “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” rather than the original “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).”
It’s unclear what prompted the hasty post-release name change for the film, which stars Margot Robbie, although the shift follows abysmal box-office numbers. Despite early positive projections, the Cathy Yan-directed flick raked in a mere $33 million in North America and $81 million worldwide on a budget of $82 million, the lowest opening-weekend gross for a DC Comics film in a decade, the Independent reports.
Some analysts speculate that the drastic name change could be an effort to emphasize Harley Quinn — a character fans are familiar with — over the comparatively unknown “Birds of Prey” comic book title, reports Deadline. It also may help that the Clown Princess of Crime takes center stage over her fellow fine feathered foes in the film.
DC Comics hasn’t responded to requests for comment, but Candice McDonough, Warner Bros.’ senior vice president of theatrical communications, tells The Post of the title change: “It hasn’t. It’s for listing for ticketing sites and exhibition.”
Resuscitating flatlining ticket sales might not be an easy feat. It’s projected that “Birds of Prey” will need to garner a whopping $250 million to $300 million globally just to break even, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Still, the film holds an impressive 80% fresh rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes — and an 81% audience score. The Post’s own film critic declared the movie “the funniest comic book film since ‘Deadpool’ in 2016.”
“Birds of Prey” follows Harley Quinn post-breakup with the Joker (played by Jared Leto in “Suicide Squad,” though the actor doesn’t appear in this sequel). Robbie’s title character joins other feathered friends, including Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), to form a bizarro type of “Charlie’s Angels” squad. Their goal: to save Gotham City from the maniacal Black Mask, played by an almost unrecognizable Ewan McGregor.
“Birds of Prey” — make that “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” — is showing in theaters nationwide.