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‘Birds of Prey’ Lays an Egg at Box Office, Set for Worst DC Opening Since ‘Jonah Hex’

Harley Quinn’s leading turn set to post opening weekend below $35 million

Despite strong critical and audience reception, Warner Bros./DC’s “Birds of Prey” is proving not to be the February box office success industry observers had hoped. The film posted a $33.2 million opening from 4,236 screens — the lowest start for a DC Comics adaptation since the $5.3 million opening of the box office bomb “Jonah Hex” in 2010.

Heading into the weekend, trackers had been projecting an opening weekend of $55 million while Warner Bros. was more conservative with a $45 million start. An opening at that lower figure might not have been the foundation for a particularly strong February box office, but still would have been a decent return on investment for Warner. Reports on the budget for “Birds of Prey” have varied but have tended to be around $85-95 million.

But a $33 million opening makes it difficult for “Birds of Prey” to even cross $100 million domestically, something that should be a given for any DC film and especially one that has a known star in Margot Robbie returning to her breakthrough role as Harley Quinn after 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” Reception for the film has been generally positive too, with an 83% score on Rotten Tomatoes along with a B+ on CinemaScore and a 4/5 on Postrak.

Instead, “Birds of Prey” is turning out to be similar to “Doctor Sleep” in that both Warner Bros. releases earned thumbs up from those who saw it but fell well short of both analyst projections and studio investment. With no other major films coming until May, Warner Bros. faces more pressure on summer releases like “In the Heights,” “Scoob!” and “Wonder Woman 1984” to deliver.

“Birds of Prey” was the only new wide release this weekend, so holdovers fill up the rest of the charts. Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” is estimated to earn $12 million in its fourth weekend to bring it to a total of $166 million, while Oscar favorite “1917” is projected to earn $9 million in its sixth wide weekend, giving the Universal/Dreamworks film a total of $132 million.

Universal’s “Dolittle” is in fourth with $6.5 million in its fourth weekend and a $63.8 million total, while Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” is on the verge of crossing $300 million domestically with $5.5 million in its ninth weekend in theaters. Another Sony film, Oscar nominee “Little Women,” became the fifth film in this year’s Best Picture race to cross $100 million in North America this past Wednesday and is projected to add $2.4 million this weekend.