In defense of Birds Of Prey
By Colby Tortorici
Listen, you heathens, shut up about Birds Of Prey.
If you haven’t heard, Birds of Prey released on February 7 to strong reviews and quite a bit of excitement. The movie centers on a newly single Harley Quinn forging her identity outside of her involvement with Joker, and her story quickly intertwines with many other Gotham women who are facing intersecting issues. Thus, the women team up to take on their problems together.
The industry forecasted a domestic haul of $50 million for the first weekend, with a worldwide gross of over $100 million. When all was said and done, the film grossed $33 million in the US and $81 million worldwide. That’s it. Women are officially canceled.
Did Birds of Prey underperform in the first weekend? You could say that. However, it is not the flop that people are calling it. Let’s dig in a bit.
To begin, Birds of Prey is a semi-sequel to Academy Award-winning Suicide Squad (I will always mention that distinction when discussing this movie), which everyone over 13 hated. Birds of Prey received an R-rating that it did not need in any way need, essentially blocking any fans that Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn had garnered that were under 18 from seeing the film. Finally, the title should have been Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey from the beginning, not switched out midway through the first week of release. There were bad choices made all around with this movie, but, let’s actually look at how big of a “flop” this movie really is.
In a single weekend, Birds of Prey made back its production cost, excluding marketing. While this is the lowest-grossing movie in the DCEU so far, it is also the cheapest next to Shazam!, meaning that it doesn’t need to make $1 billion in order to be profitable. The movie realistically needs to make around somewhere in the $250 million range in order to break even. $81 million in a single weekend. Breaking even is pretty much confirmed at this point. Are we going to mention that Ford v Ferrari cost more money to make and earned less in its first weekend than Birds of Prey? When are we labeling that movie a flop?
Warner Bros. really didn’t make the best decisions regarding this movie’s release, but the quality is there. Harley Quinn was absolutely hilarious, Huntress and her anti-social qualities were wonderful, Black Canary stepped on our collective throats and we’re grateful for it. Renee Montoya was a fantastic counter to Harley (and gave us some great LGBT moments that weren’t blink-and-you-miss-it), and Cassandra Cain was great. The villains, Black Mask and Victor Zsasz were also captivating in their own, very different ways.
Cathy Yan’s brilliant directing and screenwriter Christina Hodson’s work cannot be understated either. The decision to have Harley eclectically narrate the whole movie was a fantastic idea and added a lot of comedic value to the film. Beyond that, every single fight scene in the movie is like … the best fight scene? Ever? Of all-time? All of them? From Harley’s fantastically vibrant GCPD sequence to the stunningly choreographed final fight that made me almost scream in the theater to the CANARY CRY, alright, let me calm down for a minute.
The point of me screaming several paragraphs about Birds of Prey at you is to say that Birds of Prey is a fantastic film that is going to be financially alright.
The narrative around this film is horribly negative when the reality is that it has strong reviews and will make back its cost at the box office. But it can do so much more! It can start a series, or at the very least show studios that fans are here for a female team-up superhero movie. Birds of Prey is a fantastic film that deserves so much more than it is getting.
Give the movie a chance and support DC for making this groundbreaking film.