In expanding to the deeper parts of its DC universe, Warner Bros is launching Suicide Squad spinoff Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn this weekend, repping the comic book label’s continued march into R-rated fare post Joker and Watchmen. It is projected for a worldwide start between $110 million-$125 million, a take that is just under DC’s $158.6M global opening of Shazam last April.
Birds of Prey follows DC femme heroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya who team with once-upon-a-time bad girl Harley Quinn to save a young child from an evil crime lord. Despite Suicide Squad being an ensemble movie, many would argue that it was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn who carried that film and made it the commercial success it was. Abroad, the DC villains movie had Will Smith working in its favor.
It will be interesting to see in the wake of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, if Robbie’s star power can assist in over-indexing Birds of Prey‘s projections here even if Rotten Tomatoes scores come in low. DC fare has typically bucked its RT scores in regards to opening ticket results with Batman v. Superman earning $166M stateside in its first weekend (off 28%) and Suicide Squad debuting to an August domestic record of $133.6M (off 27%). Birds of Prey is the only wide entry of the weekend with nothing in its path.
We’re told at this point in time that Birds of Prey‘s global start should be fine for ultimately profiting off its gross $97.1M production cost (net $84.5M after $12.6M California tax credits). Previews stateside start Thursday at 6 PM, with full Friday play at 4,200-plus locations (further buffed by PLFs, Dolby Cinema, 4DX Motion Seats and Imax formats) with an eye on a three-day total of $50M-$55M. On the high-end, Birds of Prey is primed to be the 10th-highest opening ever in February.
We’ve heard that domestic advance tickets sales at major circuits are solid and OK, nothing stupendous. Atom Tickets on its mobile app reported robust first-day sales on January 29, selling more tickets than Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad in the first 24 hours. Among DC pics sold by Atom, Birds of Prey had the third best first-day sales after Aquaman and Joker.
The Cathy Yan-directed movie takes flight tomorrow in 73 territories including France, Korea, Indonesia, Belgium and Switzerland, with a forecasted $60M-$70M launch. The rest of the weekend will add all markets save Japan, and China where Birds of Prey has not been expected to factor, regardless of the current coronavirus epidemic (note Suicide Squad never played the PRC). There is potential for upside as the DC title reps the first event pic since Bad Boys For Life. However, the impact of the current situation in Asia because of the coronavirus is difficult to measure.
Looking at Suicide Squad, that film opened to $133.3M abroad (unadjusted) in 57 markets back in 2016 (Warner Bros has since changed the way it counts overseas hubs, though Birds of Prey has a different suite of debuts). Suicide Squad, it’s important to recall, was a summer film. Birds of Prey is expected to follow a similar pattern to DC pics overseas which lean heavily into the European majors and Latin America. The Top 5 markets on Suicide Squad were ultimately the UK ($43.7M), Brazil ($36.6M), Mexico ($27.6M), Australia ($26.1M) and Russia ($25.6M).
That perhaps softens the blow of what is currently happening in Asia and the unpredictability surrounding the coronavirus. There have been cinema closures outside China and we hear that, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan, some of the most affected markets are those with the highest number of Chinese tourists like Thailand and Singapore. There is a reluctance to head out to public gatherings in enclosed spaces.
Birds of Prey had its world premiere in London last Wednesday with Robbie and the rest of the cast including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Rosie Perez on the gold carpet. A few days earlier, pop-up Harley Quinn’s Roller Disco launched at the Steel Yard in London to celebrate the film. Rather than tease the movie at San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros opted for a global bang at Brazil Comic-Con in Sao Paulo, with Robbie taking the stage and showing off the pic’s opening scene.