This weekend saw the opening of the latest DC Comics-based big screen adaptation, Birds Of Prey (Or the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn). Despite the popularity of other recent DC Comics-based films like Shazam!, Aquaman and Wonder Woman and the fact that it was featuring Margo Robbie’s popular Harley Quinn character from the otherwise moribund Suicide Squad, Birds Of Prey failed to hit their expected box office numbers.
In the week leading up to the film’s release, pundits were projecting a $52 million domestic weekend for the female fronted film, with a worldwide take in the neighborhood of $110 to $125 million. The film stumbled its opening weekend, only managing to bring in just $33 million in domestic ticket sales and $48 million in foreign sales for a box office total of $81 million.
Needless to say, there were certain pundits who already had their knives sharpened for the film, and they quickly took to the internet to pronounce the film a failure, a bomb and a flop.
But is it really? An actual considered look at the numbers for the film suggests that no, it isn’t.
First of all, yes, the film opened lowered than expected. But analyzing a film’s opening weekend box office to its long term financial success is like comparing a 100-yard dash to a marathon. Birds Of Prey doesn’t have far to go in terms of recouping the studio’s investment in it. The film’s budget was in the vicinity of $80 to $85 million, meaning that it will need to ultimately pull in somewhere between $200 and $215 million at the box office to get into the black. And that is a figure that the film could conceivably meet.
Birds Of Prey has a CinemaScore of B+ from audience polling conducted Friday night as people were exiting theaters. That’s the same score that the two other DC Comics films based on their supervillain characters – Suicide Squad and Joker – have also received. Additionally, the film has a respectable Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%. Both figures translate into good word of mouth for the film. So it is likely that the film will have a good several week run in theaters, especially considering there is not much genre competition on the upcoming release calendar.
So let’s look and see what would happen if Birds Of Prey‘s box office follows a trajectory similar to ones traveled by other recent films in the DC Comics adaptation franchise.
Let’s start at the bottom with Suicide Squad. The 2016 film opened with a $133.7 million dollar domestic weekend. If Birds Of Prey were to follow the same general tracking that Suicide Squad did, the film will tap out its box office run with approximately $185 million world wide. While that does fall a bit short of the film’s break even point, with home video and other ancillary revenue streams the film should just about break even.
But let’s apply the same math to the box office trajectories and see what we get. If Birds Of Prey follows a similar line of business that Wonder Woman had, it will finish up its theatrical run with about $262 million in its worldwide till. If Birds Of Prey follows roughly the same pattern that last year’s Joker did, it could conceivably bring in $368 million at the worldwide box office.
Granted these are extreme possibilities, which leaves the more likely possibility that Birds Of Prey‘s box office receipts will land somewhere in the middle. And that would place it with a small profit, but a profit nonetheless. As the weeks continue on, we’ll see how accurate these predictions turn out to be.