Birds of Prey’s opening weekend is the worst among any DC Films title, earning $33.25 million in North American theaters. It’s significantly short of the $56 to $60 million that Warner Bros. had hoped it would deliver.
Despite generally positive reviews, the follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad seems to have a number of things holding back its box office performance. One, it’s an R-rated film, which cuts out a younger crowd that might otherwise be interested in a superhero movie. And two, Variety suggests that the coronavirus outbreak spreading to southeast Asia has weakened moviegoing in a market Warner Bros. was counting on. Birds of Prey’s total box office is estimated by Box Office Mojo at $84.5 million, $48 million of that coming from overseas.
By contrast, Suicide Squad, not without its own problems, still pulled $133.6 million (domestically) from its August 2016 premiere. But that was a PG-13 film headlined by Jared Leto as the Joker, rolling out in a summer month. Birds of Prey focuses on Harley Quinn, popular in her own right, but nonetheless teaming up with vigilantes Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya, who despite their long tenures have largely played supporting roles in Gotham City’s narrative.
Warner Bros.’ last three DC films — Shazam (April 2019), Aquaman (December 2018) and Justice League (October 2017) — were all strong commercial successes. The lowest earner, Shazam! made back half its $100 million production budget in its first weekend in the United States.
Birds of Prey reportedly had a production budget of $80 million (not counting marketing and other costs), so it should still should end up profitable.