Birds of Prey has been renamed Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey on some US theater websites, following the movie’s opening as the lowest-grossing DCEU picture yet. This was part of a “search expansion for ticket sites”, a Warner rep told The Verge. You’ll see the new title on AMC’s homepage, for example, or the listing page on Cinemark.
The move suggests that having the name ‘Harley Quinn’ in the title could be better for the movie’s box office performance. The film’s full name is technically Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, but naturally most sensible people shortened the title to just the first three words.
This decision, then, seems motivated by what they assume moviegoers will be searching for. That said, a cursory Google Trends comparison of ‘Birds of Prey’ puts it way above ‘Harley Quinn’, so who knows what difference it’ll make, if any. The decision to put Harley Quinn’s name at the front of the movie’s title should’ve been made a long time ago, really.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this is still a relatively minor change – if you look at the movie’s official website, Twitter and Facebook pages, the film is still called Birds of Prey. The title remains on US ticketing giant Fandango. In the UK, the cinema chain Odeon still uses the name Birds of Prey. It’s not like the movie’s history is being rewritten or anything.
Birds of Prey made $33 million in its opening weekend at the US, after box office tracking suggested it’d make $50-55 million, according to THR.
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Why the change?
Birds of Prey isn’t a mega-budget movie like Batman Vs Superman, but the result is still on the low side for a modern superhero movie. The timing of its release seems a little weird: it released on Oscar weekend, far outside of the usual blockbuster moviegoing season.
It also can’t have helped that it’s technically a spin-off of Suicide Squad, a truly terrible movie. Even though Harley Quinn was a highlight of that film, it’s conceivable that this would be an obstacle to people wanting to spend money on a cinema ticket.