In one of the stranger stories we’re likely to see in… well, hours, I guess, Warner Bros. appears to have changed the title of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (but not before a single sane human being heard the first one, which is way too late). The newest addition to the DCEU pantheon is now being called Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey on the websites belonging to the largest movie theater chains in the country. AMC has the new title, as do Regal and Cinemark, although the latter two still have pictures of the poster with the original title, and the AMC page’s URL hasn’t been changed; Fandango has the original title as well, as do the websites of local theaters (if one of mine is any indication). This is clearly a response to the movie underperforming this weekend; Birds of Prey (or whatever the hell you want to call it now) was tracking for a $50-55 million opening weekend Stateside and a $110 million worldwide haul, with Warner Bros. expecting at least $45 million in the US, but it took in $33.2 million domestically and $81.2 million worldwide. To put this into perspective, these are the lowest opening weekend numbers for a DC movie since Jonah Hex (a mega bomb) in 2010, and while Birds of Prey didn’t cost as much to make as a lot of the others did, this isn’t nearly what Warner Bros. wanted.
I have no real dog in this race. I haven’t seen Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (See? I can be a sport.), and don’t plan to do so. Overall, I don’t care for the DCEU, and while I’m aware that you can’t always judge a movie by its trailer, sometimes the writing is on the wall – in Suicide Squad’s case, it was the word “Damaged” on the Joker’s forehead, and Harley’s newest outing looks like more of the same. Still, I can’t help but laugh at this move. It’s a pretty sharp indication of what Warner Bros. thinks of the opening weekend; they’re obviously desperate to boost box office returns, and they want to highlight their star in a way the previous title didn’t. It’s puzzling why they didn’t do this in the first place; the trailers – and everything I’ve read and heard from people who’ve seen it – make it clear that this is Harley’s movie, and the Birds of Prey are supporting players. Besides which, Harley Quinn is better known to general audiences than the Birds of Prey, even if you take the characters individually. I sincerely doubt this is going to work for them. They’ve marketed this movie pretty heavily over the last few months, so everyone knows it by its original title. Are they planning on sinking a ton of money into new posters and trailers with Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey stamped on them on the outside chance they’ll attract more moviegoers? And if not, this is only going to confuse people who go to the theaters’ websites to get tickets. I also doubt they’ll be changing the title on prints of the movie itself. The whole thing brings to mind Warner Bros. attempt to rebrand Edge of Tomorrow (a great film that should have done better theatrically) as “Live Die Repeat” on home video, though they didn’t go so far as to literally change the title (although it was listed as Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow on some on-demand services); they just emphasized the tagline and hoped people would think Tom Cruise was in a new movie they’d never heard of till their trip to Best Buy. Anyway, regarding the new film we’re expected to believe is the first time women ever stood in front of a camera, the marketing push may end up being more entertaining than the film itself.
What do you think of the new title for Birds of Prey? Should they have marketed the film as a Harley Quinn movie in the first place? Could they go with something else for the Blu-Ray title? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned to Geeks + Gamers for more movie news!