Cathy Yan's R-rated superhero crime caper Birds of Prey just cannot seem to catch a break. After releasing in theaters to a tepid response, and battling several controversies on social media, the movie was released on VOD two weeks ago by Warner Bros. with hopes of a better reception at the hands of digital audiences. But the $19.99 asking price for premium VOD proved too dear for viewers, forcing the company to slash the film's price to $ 5.99 less than two weeks since its digital release.

The move was necessitated by the fact that Birds of Prey has had a less than stellar run on the digital marketplace. It debuted at the number two spot on the list of new film releases and slipped down ever further in less than a week. This prompted Warner Bros. to reassess the demand for the movie among viewers, hence the newly lowered fee. The strategy seems to be working for now, with Birds of Prey trending at the number one spot among digital movie rentals on iTunes since the drop in its asking price.

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The truth is, the $19.99 price that most new movies are being fixed at online is very much a result of guesswork on the part of studios rather than a carefully considered number. The price is working for some movies, like The Invisible Man and The Hunt, which continue to be sold for the same amount, while other movies, like Dolittle and now Birds of Prey, have found more value in lowering their price tags.

The VOD industry is uncharted territory for big movie studios. What had until now been a niche market is suddenly being expected to take the place of the empty theaters dotting landscapes the world over. It will be some time before studios and their audiences arrive at a mutually agreed-upon asking price for films, and even then, it is very likely that different movies will have different tiered pricing systems, depending on viewer interest.

For now, Birds of Prey will hopefully find the latest move to make it more palatable to audiences resulting in a financial profit. The movie had not been able to break even during its theatrical release, and if it also fails to do well online, Warner Bros. is highly unlikely to greenlight a sequel as is being demanded by fans.

Cathy Yan has expressed enthusiasm for revisiting the world of the Birds of Prey in a sequel, this time with Poison Ivy also making an appearance as Harley Quinn's BFF and potential love interest. As for Harley herself, she will next make an appearance in Sucide Squad 2, where she will once again be teaming up with a gang of cutthroats and anti-heroes in an action-packed adventure, directed by James Gunn. There is also the animated series based on Harley Quinn whose second season debuted on the third of April on the DC Universe website. This news comes from IndieWire.

Neeraj Chand