Update, 02/11/20: Did Warner Bros. actually change the name of its recently released Birds of Prey movie to Harley Quinn? Not officially, but a slew of movie chains did tweak the title on their websites to reflect the DC character at the film’s center.
According to a report, which we learned from Comic Book, the studio changed the title of the film after an underwhelming opening weekend box office. It went from the lengthy Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) to the more marketable Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. However it seems the film’s official name remains the same.
While a few of the larger film chains, including AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas, now bill the film until it’s new moniker, it doesn’t extend across all theaters. When you follow the movie’s official Twitter account to Fandango’s website you also find the old title. Flixster, Showcase Cinemas, and Cineworld are also still using the the original name.
Will this matter for its future earnings? Probably not. It’s far more likely that word of mouth for the positively reviewed movie will determine its long term success more than its official name will. Everyone is either calling its Birds of Prey or “the Harley Quinn” movie anyway. And as Harley herself might say, “A rose by any other name would smell just as ****ing sweet.”
If you’ve been calling Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) just Harley Quinn, or “the Harley Quinn movie,” well….the movie just underwent a name change in light of its less-than-stellar opening weekend, in hopes that will help its performance. We’ve learned (via Comic Book), that Warner Brothers has now officially changed the name of the film to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Although in my opinion, Harley Quinn AND the Birds of Prey sounds better. But this is the name change they went with. So if you are looking to reserve seats via Fandango or another app, startling looking under “H.”
Despite pretty stellar reviews, the movie under performed at the box office is this past weekend. Now, according to most sources, the film had a rather small budget for a comic book movie. Around $84 million dollars. That’s slightly less than Shazam! had, and that movie was considered a success. But at best, Birds of Prey can only hope to break even now. And although breaking even isn’t the kind of money-losing debacle for Warner Brothers that a Justice League was, it’s still not something they want. And that’s a shame, because the movie itself is a actually a blast.
So what went wrong? Some people say the R-rating, but Deadpool seems to nip that theory in the bud. Some more reactionary pundits suggest that “men don’t want to see women superhero movies,” but the majority of the audience were actually dudes. Also, the success of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman would seem to suggest that doesn’t really matter. Except of course to certain very loud and annoying YouTubers.
One mistake made was not doing a good job introducing the actual Birds of Prey characters to the audience via the trailers and commercials. Black Canary and Huntress are commodities to comics and animation fans; does the general audience know who they are? Probably not so much. And the ads just didn’t do a good job at telling casual fans who the heck they were supposed to even be.
Then, there’s the costume issue. While it’s fantastic that director Cathy Yan decided to ditch sexist costuming and “male gaze” camera moves in favor of something different, there was a way to have your cake and eat it too in terms of the costuming. Harley Quinn has one of the most iconic and cosplayed costumes ever. And it covers her head-to-toe. There had to have been a way to do that costume, at least for one scene, and market your movie around that. Everyone who grew up with Batman: The Animated Series sees that and knows it’s Harley. In some ways, she looked too much like any other character, despite Margot Robbie being perfect in the role.
And both Huntress and Black Canary have easily translatable costumes, and instead they ditched them. Part of the fun in seeing comic book adaptations is seeing how the filmakers translate those costumes into real life, while maintaining what makes them iconic. A lot of Birds of Prey reminds me of early 2000s X-Men movies, where they were ashamed of their comics roots. Still, the movie itself is awesome, and if the name change helps it boost its performance, so be it. We just know we want a sequel with Poison Ivy and Harley together at last. Is that too much to ask?
Featured Image: Warner Brothers