‘Birds of Prey’ Plunders: A Box Office Blunder?

Matthew Moorey expresses his disagreement with DC‘s latest droppings in the Box Office – whether frequent lack of appreciation for women‘s representation is responsible for this.

Despite receiving good critical and audience responses, Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has suffered at the box office over the course of its opening weekend. The film took home around $80-90 million, falling just shy of its $97.1 million production budget (which is made worse considering you traditionally double the budget for marketing costs). Of course, it’s only had one weekend out in cinemas and Warner Brothers are eager to turn this around; they’ve changed the commercial name of the film to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey in an attempt to draw in more cinema-goers. It’s a real disappointment that the film isn’t having much success at the box office given that the film certainly deserves more acclaim. But the potential reasons behind this are what’s even more saddening. The women haters strike again.

Before we get into this, it has to be acknowledged that an R-rating (15 for us in the UK) for the film can rule out a significant portion of cinema goes, hence reducing any potential box office gross. However, this doesn’t mean that the film is guaranteed to struggle. Joker became the first R-rated film to bring in over $1 billion, and elsewhere films like Deadpool also have financial success. So while this played a role in Birds of Prey having less success at the box office, it’s certainly not the only reason. 

The same old rubbish and regurgitated twaddle that you’ll find around any female-lead film continues to surface. The IMDb user reviews for the film are littered with comments about the films supposed ‘agenda’, and complaints about how ‘woke’ it is. Firstly, I don’t think they’ve even seen the same film I have. While yes, the main group of protagonist are female and the villains are men, I struggle to see how this translates to the film having an agenda. The comments that suggest otherwise present a hypocritical logic. A great deal of films feature male goons and minions, but I don’t see complaints about male villains on films like John Wick, Die Hard or First Blood. It’s not even like Black Mask (who by the way is excellently played by Ewan McGregor) and Victor Zsasz were originally sympathetic villains in the comics and transformed into terrible people for this film. They’ve always been monstrous, murderous psychopaths.

So is it solely down to having female leads? Surely this can’t be the case since even the people who leave these complaints would consider Alien protagonist Ellen Ripley a legend of the action genre. I just can’t understand why the ideas of a ‘feminist agenda’ and a ‘woke’ culture are so frequent. For goodness sake, as a comic book property Birds of Prey is nearly 25 years old. Yet, it’s happening to almost every high profile film released now. One comment I encountered had the audacity to ask why Hollywood “isn’t getting the message” that they don’t want female protagonists. My answer to that is that they are getting the message, it’s just not your message. Yet mindless, hypocritical comments like this are slowing progress down.

Similar to the unjustified negatively that faced Terminator: Dark Fate, women-haters objected simply to the presence of women in leading roles. And at the end of the day, if they just can’t handle the idea that women can have prominent roles just as often as men, then they should stay at home. I sincerely hope that the hatred I’ve seen directed at this film is simply a vocal minority and that the box office figures aren’t because of it. Birds of Prey has thankfully received good critical responses and good audience responses from rational human beings, and deserves better treatment.

Image Credit: smashmexico.com