Birds of Prey was originally estimated to bring in around $50 million during its debut weekend. However, it ended up bringing in just $33.2 million. The opening was DC's lowest since Jonah Hex in 2010, which only managed to bring in $5.3 million. Seeing Margot Robbie back as Harley Quinn should have brought a lot more fans into the theater, so what went wrong? Box office analyst Jeff Bock believes he knows a few of the reasons why the movie underperformed in theaters.
When it comes down to it, Birds of Prey did the best that it could. "They took a swing, and they missed," said Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock. "It wasn't for the movie masses, it was a niche comic-book movie. Warner Bros. keeps having to learn these lessons." That is definitely a good point to drive home. The movie was never expected to light the box office on fire, but it should have done better than it did. Even the cautiously low estimates of $45 million were too generous when the dust settled.
Birds of Prey reportedly cost $82 million to produce, though there have been rumors that the number should be much higher due to all of the CGI. It has been reported that the actual cost of the movie was $100 million, which means that it will essentially need to make around $100 million domestically and $300 million globally to break even. Making matters worse is the coronavirus breakout overseas, which is especially hurting the box office in China. So, even with positive word-of-mouth advertising, Birds of Prey might not make its mark.
Another factor that is having an impact on Birds of Prey at the box office is the fact that it is rated R. The movie is filled with F-bombs and enough violence to make Quentin Tarantino proud. 2016's Suicide Squad was PG-13 and it made a killing at the box office, despite being torn to shreds by fans and critics. Margot Robbie was the rare bright spot in the movie, so the studio though they had struck gold. So why didn't they put more focus on her? Jeff Bock had this to say.
"The first mistake in not focusing on her. She has an IP, so Warner Bros. not naming it 'Harley Quinn' was a huge misfire..."
As for how Birds of Prey will wind up, the coming weekend sees new competition, though it isn't exactly direct competition. Sonic the Hedgehog will be opening and that could put a damper on the DC movie. But, things could change in the next few days, especially with so many people heaping praise on the movie. Maybe the word-of-mouth estimates will prove to be true, giving Birds of Prey the extra time it needs to make some money at the box office. Variety was the first to report on Jeff Bock's analysis on Birds of Prey and the box office.