Despite receiving general critical praise and boasting an 80% Fresh rating and an 84% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has opened to significantly lower box office numbers than anticipated. Initially projected to score a $50-55 million opening weekend, the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe of comic book movies grossed just $13 million domestically on its first day (including Thursday previews), prompting estimates to be downwardly adjusted to $33 million.
Should it close out its first weekend around that total, it would fail to break into the top 50 superhero film openings of all time, and suffer the lowest-grossing opening weekend of any DCEU movie by a wide margin, falling more than $20 million short of Shazam!‘s opening total, which had itself been the previous low point. By comparison, Suicide Squad, the movie that Birds of Prey spun out of, ranks 13th with a domestic opening weekend of nearly $134 million.
Birds of Prey continues an unfortunate and consistent trend of diminishing first weekends that has plagued the franchise since nearly the beginning: every film since Suicide Squad followed Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has opened to at least $10 million less than its predecessor, with the first big screen outing for Task Force X dropping by the largest dollar amount (more than $32 million) and Birds of Prey dropping by the greatest percentage (more than 38%, surpassing Aquaman‘s 27.6% drop from Justice League).
For context, a $33 million opening weekend would be the lowest by any film based on a DC property since Jonah Hex opened with just $5.4 million in 2010, and ranks lower than Martin Campbell’s 2011 failure Green Lantern ($53.1 million). One of three movies generally cited as the lowest of the genre’s low points – along with Joel Schumacher’s 1997 abysmal Batman & Robin and Pitof Comer’s 2004 multi-Razzie “winning” Catwoman – Green Lantern was so poorly received that Ryan Reynolds literally used time travel to go back into the past and preemptively murder himself before allowing the movie to be made at the end of Deadpool 2.
It’s worth noting, however, that last year’s Aquaman opened with a $67.8 million first weekend and went on to become the first DCEU film to break the billion-dollar threshold at the global box-office, finishing its run with nearly $1.15 billion. If Birds of Prey performs similarly over the long-term, it could still see a respectable $550 million final worldwide haul, putting it roughly midway between Shazam! and Justice League. If it doesn’t, however, director Cathy Yan’s desire to explore the relationship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in a potential sequel could be in serious jeopardy.
Birds of Prey, starring Margot Robbie as the newly-emancipated Harleen Quinzel leading her own ragtag team of “B*d*ss M*th*rf*ck*rs” against Ewan McGregor’s nightclub-owning gangster Roman Sionis, can be seen in theaters now.