Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has a new theatrical title, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. The change in the theatrical title of the DC Comics movie comes after it bombed at the box office during its opening weekend.
The R-rated movie opened to a disappointing $33.25 million at the domestic box office, far below the projection of about $50 million-$55 million, according to Deadline. This makes it the worst ever box office opening for a DCEU movie, according to multiple sources.
The movie returned disappointing earnings in its first weekend at the box office despite positive critical reviews and high approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
The low earnings at the box office come as a surprise to many industry watchers because the character Harley Quinn is popular among DC Comics fans, alongside other DC superhero characters, such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
The poor opening at the box office forced Warner Bro. execs to return to the drawing board to try to figure out what went wrong.
Why was the title changed to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey?
According to The Verge, Warner decided that part of the reason for the poor performance was that the original title was not SEO friendly. But some industry watchers have also suggested that the R-rating might have prevented a large number of younger fans from buying the tickets to see the movie.
The Verge reported that a representative for Warner Bros said they decided to use a shorter title, and to start it with the keyword “Harley Quinn,” to enhance SEO and generate a “search expansion for ticket sites.”
Warner Bros. reps tell me the recent appearance of Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is "search expansion for ticket sites" when asked if Birds of Prey title change is official.
I have followed up to ask, "lol so it's still Birds of Prey officially or?"
— Julia Alexander (@loudmouthjulia) February 11, 2020
The decision-makers believed that adding the search term “Harley Quinn” at the beginning would also make it easier for moviegoers to understand that the movie is about Harley Quinn.
Other reasons cited for the surprisingly low opening box office earning included bad marketing and bad trailers.
Major theater chains have changed the title to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
However, some sites are reporting that the change only affects the theatrical name of the movie and that the official title of the movie remains unchanged.
Although Warner Bros. was yet to release an official statement about the change, it reportedly took effect immediately. The new title was displayed in place of the original title at ticket sites for the major theater chains, such as Regal Cinemas and AMC Theaters.
This is not the first time that Warner Bros. has changed the theatrical name of a movie for marketing purposes. Warner tweaked the marketing for the 2014 sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow (starring Tom Cruise) by adding the tagline Live Die Repeat.
The tagline Live Die Repeat was added due to the conviction that the poor box office performance of the movie was partly due to poor audience response to the title Edge of Tomorrow.
Birds of Prey stars Australian actress Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
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