Let me start by saying that this is not a review. I have not seen Birds of Prey and I am not alone there.
It arrived in the theaters on Friday
“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.“
Forgive me for stating the obvious but Harley Quinn is not an Opener.
She started life as a nameless, silent background character in the justly lauded 1990s Batman cartoon series. Then she got a few lines. After Paul Dini heard Arleen Sorkin’s delivery those few lines in a Brooklyn accent, he began painting in the image of a woman he knew who was in a very abusive relationship.
It was a brilliant idea on Dini’s part. Harley Quinn put a human face on Joker without humanizing Joker.
Being a battered woman was what intrigued audiences about Harleen Quinzel. It wasn’t really a question of, “why did she stay with Joker?” People more or less knew the answer. She couldn’t help herself. She would come close to leaving him now and then but he would throw her a few flower petals of affection and she would go right back to him.
What made people watch her was that she was a figure of tragedy. You kept hoping she would somehow get a better life.
And then she did and became instantly boring.
They lost sight of the fact that she was always a supporting character. The only interesting thing about her was her relationship with Joker. Without him she just looks like some Brooklyn street walker who specializes in clown fetishes.
The very mediocre Suicide Squad was the first appearance of Harley Quinn in live action. Now this did generate a lot of interest in the character but sadly, the studio thought they had something when they didn’t. Regardless, they gave Harley Quinn a whamen-power feature with a few B-list comic book heroines thrown in.
It was a bad idea that was clearly just more of Warner Brother’s policy of let’s throw some DC at the wall and see what sticks.
By the time it hit the theaters WB clearly knew this one wasn’t going to stick.
How do we know that they knew that? Because they started shrieking about how misogynistic man-babies hated it and that it was incredibly brave of them to make this ground breaking film. In short they went full Ghostbusters (2015).
Now, you can sneer all you like about how the Ghostbusters marketing campaign was total bullshit. But the fact is, it worked! No, it didn’t turn that pile of shit into a blockbuster but it did rake in $358 million world wide at the boxoffice against a budget of $150 million. Not a hit but not a disaster either. They broke even with a godawful movie that shouldn’t have made a dime.
And the Misogynistic Man-baby marketing campaign was born. If you had a disaster on your hands and you knew it, you just start cat calling about incel fuck-boys. The press will get behind you. The Twitter NPCs will start trying to cancel anyone who cracks a joke about your flick and you will probably get just enough money back to break even.
Although last year this scheme started losing effectiveness. Terminator Dark Fate only made $265 million against a budget of $185 million. Charlies Angels flat out bombed at $17 million against a budget of $48 million.
With Birds of Prey falling off the perch, I think we are about to see the death of Man-baby marketing.
It has gone from can’t miss marketing ploy to smoke signal.
Audiences have finally figured it out. If the studio is going full Man-baby, it’s a bad movie.