Box Office: ‘Birds of Prey’ Disappoints With $33 Million Debut

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” flew much lower than expected at the box office, collecting just $33.25 million when it debuted in 4,236 U.S. theaters.

The sequel to 2016’s “Suicide Squad” — seeing Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn– now holds the ignominious distinction as the worst opening for any film in the DC Extended Universe. Prior to “Birds of Prey,” the PG-13 “Shazam” had the lowest launch with $53 million.

That’s somewhat of a surprise, since reviews for “Birds of Prey” were much stronger than its predecessor. However, “Suicide Squad” — which debuted with $133 million — was rated PG-13 and boasted higher profile comic-book characters like the Joker. “Birds of Prey” wasn’t expected to reach those figures because it’s rated R and stars lesser known antiheroes, but it was on course to make around $50 million heading into the weekend. Since it was the only new movie to open this weekend, it still easily dominated domestic box office charts.

“Birds of Prey,” which cost roughly $80 million million before accounting for global marketing and distribution fees, could rebound over the coming weeks, since there’s not much direct competition. Sources at rival studios estimate it needs to make around $100 million at the domestic box office to break even.

The film also opened overseas, generating a soft $48 million from 78 international markets. The studio said in parts of Southeast Asia, fears of coronavirus are impacting moviegoing. Globally, “Birds of Prey” made $81 million this weekend.

Directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, “Birds of Prey” picks up after the events of “Suicide Squad” and sees Harley Quinn coping with her breakup from the Joker (played in this universe by Jared Leto). In this go-around, she teams up with a girl gang — Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Gotham detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) — to save a young girl from Gotham crime lord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Compared to blistering reviews for “Suicide Squad,” the critical consensus for “Birds of Prey” was strong, with an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers gave it a “B+” CinemaScore.

Unless “Birds of Prey” picks up steam, it’ll be another casualty for Warner Bros. Outside of “Joker,” the studio is desperate for a hit after suffering a string of flops including “Doctor Sleep,” “The Goldfinch” and “Richard Jewell.” Its DC Extended Universe, however, had been on a critical and commercial high with the successes of “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.”

After three consecutive weeks as box office champs, Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” dropped to second place with $12 million. The action sequel, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, has amassed an impressive $166 million to date. “Bad Boys for Life” has also brought back solid receipts overseas, where the film has made $170 million for a global haul of $336 million.

Ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, Universal’s “1917,” widely seen as this year’s best picture frontrunner, landed at No. 3 with $9 million. The Sam Mendes-directed World War I epic has made $132 million in North America and $287 million globally. “1917” could continue to benefit at the box office if it walks away from the Academy Awards a big winner. It’s nominated for 10 statues, including best director.

Universal also nabbed fourth place with “Dolittle” pulling in $6.6 million in its fourth weekend of release for a domestic tally of $63 million. At the worldwide box office, the family film starring Robert Downey Jr. has grossed $158.7 million. But it carries a $180 million price tag, so it has a long road ahead to get out of the black.

Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” rounded out the top five, pulling in another $5 million. Since debuting in December, the sequel has generated $298 million in North America and $470 million overseas for a global total of $768 million.

Despite a disappointing start for “Birds of Prey,” overall box office ticket sales are up almost 10% from last year, according to Comscore.

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