Is WB Marketing To Blame For Birds of Prey’s Underwhelming Opening Weekend?

Birds of Prey is here, but the numbers don't quite match up to WB's hopes and dreams. We examine why the latest DC entry hasn't quite hit the financial mark?
birds of prey - harley quinn

Margot Robbie has knocked 2 time co-star Will Smith from his throne in the January box office by taking top spot at this weekend’s box office with Birds of Prey. The film brought in $33.3 million, which was nearly 3 times more than Bad Boys For Life’s weekend take of $12 million. Yes, the latter has been out for three weeks already, but it’s clear that if anyone was going to the movies this weekend, then Birds of Prey was the overwhelming choice. Sadly, the film still did not bring in the numbers that WB had been anticipating.

birds of prey and harley

Birds of Prey is the first live action solo feature film starring Margot Robbie, who brought the character to life back in 2016’s Suicide Squad. While not a direct sequel to the film, there is a lovely easter egg at the end of the police station scene – so pay real close attention to a certain ‘Wanted’ poster. This team up film does take place after the events of Suicide Squad, and we’re taken on a wild ride as Harley attempts to break from her co-dependence streak, and finds her identity outside of just being “The Joker’s Girlfriend”.

Along the way, she gets entangled with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and The Huntress (Elizabeth Winstead) as they team up to save Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from the manic and evil hands of Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask. The film is directed by Cathy Yan, written by Christina Hodson, and also stars Chris Messina and Ali Wong.


On paper, the film was risky. Margot Robbie was the marquee player on board who wanted to helm a female-led comic book film with a majority female creative team. Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are successful actors in their own rights, but are arguably not household names. Rosie Perez was one of the biggest stars of the 80s and early 90s, mostly known for her dancing, choreography, and performances in films such as Do The Right Thing and White Men Can’t Jump. However, with no disrespect to the legend herself, her heyday was over 25 years ago. A lot was banking on Robbie’s star power and talent, both in front of the camera and through her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, who produced Birds of Prey as well as the critically acclaimed film I, Tonya, and the highly anticipated film Promising Young Women.

On screen, the film debuted with a plethora of praise from both critics and fans alike. It’s currently sitting at 80% on the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes, which classifies the film as “Certified Fresh”, and fans seem to agree as the audience score sits just above the tomatometer at 83%. So why didn’t the overwhelmingly positive reviews translate into dollars? WB’s early projections indicated that Birds of Prey would collect at least $50 million dollars domestically. By Thursday night, the studio saw that it would come in a lot lower than that.

A good amount of finger pointing from the judge, jury, and executioner that is the Twittersphere has been directed towards WB’s marketing team. For Harley Quinn fans and fans of the film itself, this movie was a slam dunk. A female empowerment film that didn’t pander to its audience, a movie that was extremely diverse in both race and personality types. How many of us are co-dependent? How many of us have tried to get out of an abusive situation? How many of us have an outrageous style? How many of us can kick ass? How many of us have hair ties on our person and have offered it to our teammates?

For a look into the possible reasons the movie isn’t performing as well as WB wants, head to the next page:


Migdalia Melendez

Migdalia Melendez

Freebirding | Vegan | Lover of Animals Doing Human Things | Allergic to Trolls | Batman > Superman | Head of Production @ The Illuminerdi | She/Her