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411 Box Office Report: Birds of Prey Starts Low But Takes #1 With $33.3 Million

February 9, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Birds of Prey Harley Quinn Black Canary

DC hit the box office again this weekend and while Birds of Prey was an easy #1, it didn’t hit the mark many hoped. The Harley Quinn-centric DC comic book film brought in $33.3 million to claim the top spot. That’s well below the $45 million-plus that most were expecting it to do this weekend, and the lowest opening for a DCEU film to date behind Shazam!’s $53.5 million start last April. Add in $48 million in overseas grosses at it totalled $81.3 million worldwide for the opening weekend.

There’s a lot of discussion about why this film went lower than it should have. The film came in with positive reviews from critics with an 80% aggregate score at Rotten Tomatoes, and audience have enjoyed it with a B+ CinemaScore. However, the film also came in with quite the albatross around its neck in the negative reputation of Suicide Squad. True, Birds of Prey is not a direct sequel to that film, but while Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is one of the more well-received aspects of the DCEU, this is still an ensemble film built around Harley featuring some morally-flexible characters and the marketing didn’t do a ton to make it clear that this wasn’t Suicide Squad Part II — especially since her name wasn’t in the title, unless you include the full “And the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn” that pretty much no one did.

A bigger problem was the R rating. While the film arguably benefits from the creative freedom the rating gave it, a significant portion of Harley’s audience comes from younger crowds, particularly girls. That cut off a big part of the audience, including those who may have been fans of the PG-13 Suicide Squad. Those who did attend in that age range loved it with an A- CinemScore and 86% PostTrak recommend, but that was only 9% of the audience. A PG-13 rating by dropping the F-bombs would have freed up a large chunk of the audience who wanted to see it.

That said, it should be clear that Birds of Prey is not a bomb and anyone suggesting such is simply wrong. Sure, it’s no Aquaman, but it also cost only a fraction of that film’s budget at $75 million plus marketing. Right now the film looks likely to hit around $95 million to $100 million in the US and overseas numbers should put it at a box office profit. It won’t be a runaway blockbuster, but Warner Bros. can still count this as a marginal success.

Meanwhile, Bad Boys For Life keeps raking in the money. The action sequel scored another $12 million for its fourth week, down just 32% from last weekend. The Bad Boys film is now up to $166.3 million domestically and $336.3 million worldwide, an easy hit against its $90 million budget. The film is still on course for $190 million to $200 million domestically by the end of its run.

1917 is headed to the Oscars as the frontrunner in many categories tonight and it performed as such, with a slip of just 5% to $9 million. The war movie has hit $132.5 million domestically and $287.3 million, well on its way to profit against a $100 million budget and a spendy marketing run. Right now, the film looks likely to finish out over $160 million in the US and almost certainly has Universal Pictures in a happy state.

On the other hand, Universal is none too happy about Dolittle, even with its decent holds. The Robert Downey Jr-starring fantasy adventure nailed down another $6.6 million in its fourth week, down just 12% from last weekend. Dolittle is performing well week to week but that’s just an attempt to bail water out of the Titanic; even with $64 million domestically and $158.7 million worldiwde, it’s nowhere near a profit against its massive $175 million budget. It should finish out with around $80 million in the US.

Jumanji: The Next Level is unstoppable, as it edged down just 8% in its ninth week to $5.5 million. The ensemble action-comedy sequel has brought its totals to $298.5 million domestic and having crossed the $768.5 million worldwide. The film should end its run in the US with around $310 million to $312 million, huge against its $130 million budget.

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is in fine shape as it was down a decent 25% in its third weekend to $4.2 million. The crime comedy from STX is a moderate performer, but it’s a success at $26.9 million domestically and $54.9 million worldwide against a $20 million budget and moderate marketing. It should be able to reach $35 million domestically.

Gretel & Hansel had an okay second weekend after its vaguely disappointing start last frame. The UA horror film brought in $3.5 million, a 43% frop from last weekend’s start. Thus far, the movie has $11.5 million domestically with better holds than most expected throughout the week and $13 million worldwide. It should be able to top $17 million to $20 million in the US, enough to at least break even against a $5 million budget plus P&A.

Knives Out decided it wasn’t done yet, and after a one-week drop out of the top ten jumped back in for a #8 finish at $2.4 million, down just 9%. Calling the Rian Johnson-directed whodunit a sleeper hit is an understatement at this point; in eleven weeks it has $158.9 million domestically and $299.6 million against a $40 million budget. It’s looking like a likely $165 million final take.

Little Women slipped a solid 24% in its seventh weekend with $2.3 million. The Greta Gerwig-directed film is up to $102.7 million domestically and $177.2 million worldwide against a $42 million budget, making it a huge hit for Sony. It will likely finish out at $110 million in the US.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spent what is very likely its last weekend in the top ten with $2.2 million, down 31% in its eighth weekend. The blockbuster stands at $510.5 million domestically and $1.061 billion worldwide, still a huge hit against a $275 million budget.

Next weekend will several films hit theaters, with Sonic The Hedgehog targeting #1 at around $35 million. Romantic drama The Photograph should take advantage of Valentine’s Day with a $10 million to $15 million start, the same range Blumhouse’s horror take on Fantasy Island is looking at. Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ comedy Downhill should open in the high single digits range.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) – $33.3 million ($33.3 million total)
2. Bad Boys For Life – $12 million ($166.3 million total)
3. 1917 – $9 million ($132.5 million total)
4. Dolittle – $6.7 million ($64 million total)
5. Jumanji: The Next Level – $5.5 million ($298.5 million total)
6. The Gentlemen – $4.2 million ($26.9 million total)
7. Gretel & Hansel – $3.5 million ($11.5 million total)
8. Knives Out – $2.4 million ($158.9 million total)
9. Little Women – $2.3 million ($102.7 million total)
7. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – $2.2 million ($510.5 million total)