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Harley Quinn at jail cell in Birds of Prey

When examined from a macro perspective, 2020 should be a very strange year for comic book movies. When you think about it, this is the first 12 month stretch since 2014 that cinemas won't see any kind of big superhero team-up/crossover on the big screen, as films like Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Justice League (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) have all been scratching that particular itch for audiences. The offerings this year when it comes to superhero action are of a different breed, with scale being pulled back a bit... and sadly, things are not off to a great start with Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn). The film may have opened at number one, but the numbers are not awesome.

Check out the results of the full Top 10 in the chart below, and join me after for analysis!

Weekend Box Office Birds of Prey February 7-9, 2020 CinemaBlend
1. Birds Of Prey* $33,250,000 Total: $33,250,000
LW: N
THTRS: 4,236
2. Bad Boys For Life $12,005,000 Total: $166,327,207
LW: 1
THTRS: 3,530
3. 1917 $9,000,000 Total: $132,542,909
LW: 2
THTRS: 3,548
4. Dolittle $6,660,000 Total: $63,959,985
LW: 3
THTRS: 3,462
5. Jumanji: The Next Level $5,530,000 Total: $298,460,411
LW: 5
THTRS: 2,729
6. The Gentlemen $4,180,000 Total: $26,851,981
LW: 6
THTRS: 2,557
7. Gretel & Hansel $3,510,659 Total: $11,534,899
LW: 4
THTRS: 3,007
8. Knives Out $2,350,000 Total: $158,941,650
LW: 11
THTRS: 1,443
9. Little Women $2,325,000 Total: $102,673,143
LW: 8
THTRS: 1,805
10. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker $2,226,000 Total: $510,547,478
LW: 7
THTRS: 1,746

Prognostication in recent weeks suggested that Birds of Prey would have a similar box office experience as David F. Sandberg's Shazam! in its first three days, the 2019 movie bringing in $50-55 million last April, but things sadly didn't shake out that way. Instead, the spin-off from David Ayer's Suicide Squad wound up having what we can now call the weakest opening for any title in the DC Extended Universe, and one of the weakest openings for a DC Comics adaptation in general in years.

What particularly makes this so unexpected is the amount of buzz that has been building up around Birds of Prey recently. There was a period last week when the film was rocking a Rotten Tomatoes score over 90 percent (it's since come down to about 80 percent), and it very much seemed like the general comic book movie-going audience was geared up to go see it. Somewhere along the line, though, the bottom fell out. It's particularly strange because the feature is definitely clicking with audiences, as it received a modestly strong "B+" CinemaScore grade from ticket-buyers who were surveyed post-screening this weekend.

So what happened? It's hard to say precisely, but there are a few different hypotheses on the table. The first may simply be a simple cooling attitude towards the DC Extended Universe, and a certain ripple effect from Suicide Squad – which is not really a film that has aged all that well in the last three-plus years. Right now the franchise is in a state of disarray as it's working to figure out its direction toward the future, and it's possible that people don't quite know what to make of Birds Of Prey at this juncture. There are also factors like the movie's R-rating resulting in fewer screenings being held; and one also can wonder if the extensive news coverage about the coronavirus outbreak is encouraging some people to stay inside and make plans to sit inside crowded auditoriums.

The positive way to look at this is that it's possible that the film could still wind up having some strong legs. Going back to the positive reaction from both critics and audiences, it's possible that people will be encouraged by word of mouth to check out the movie in its second weekend, particularly with the Valentine's Day holiday on Friday. As we will discuss later, there are a number of films set to debut in wide release in the next few days, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if film fans decided to check out Birds of Prey instead of the newer offerings.

Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

With most studios concerned by the potential of Birds of Prey, no other wide releases hit theaters on Friday, and you'd expect that would result in the titles in the Top 10 simply shifting down one spot each. As you can see in the chart, however, that's not what happened. Sure, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah's Bad Boys For Life, Sam Mendes' 1917, and Stephen Gaghan's Dolittle followed that pattern, but everything else was given a nice shake. After debuting in fourth place last weekend, Oz Perkins' Gretel & Hansel dropped down to seventh place, and with a box office haul of just $11.5 million so far, it doesn't look like it's going to be sticking around for very long. J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker also experienced a similar three-place slip, and it's possible that it will slip to 11th place or lower before next week's report.

Not every title in release fell in ranking, however, as you may have noticed the triumphant return of Rian Johnson's Knives Out, which fell out of the Top 10 last weekend, but is now back in eighth place (it surely doesn't hurt that the movie got a touch of attention from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, nominating it for Best Original Screenplay). For an original film, albeit one with an absolutely outstanding cast, the movie has been performing extraordinarily well, and to date has made nearly $300 million worldwide. It's an exciting cinematic win for fans of mystery movies, if not especially because Lionsgate has already given the greenlight to a sequel that will see the return of Daniel Craig's Kentucky-fried investigator Benoit Blanc working to solve another case.

In the milestones department, Greta Gerwig's Little Women has now officially found its way into the nine figure club, crossing the $100 million mark domestically in the last couple of days (its global total currently stands at $177.2 million). Jake Kasdan's Jumanji: The Next Level is also on the precipice of reaching another significant total, as it's now it's less than $2 million away from eclipsing $300 million in North America. There's no way that it will ultimately be able to make as much money as its predecessor, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, which made over $400 million in America before it was done with its run in early 2018, but still Sony must be ecstatic with the results.

This was definitely a down week for Hollywood, but things should get very interesting in the coming days as couples potentially plan excursions to their local cineplex. After a week with only one new wide release in theaters, studios are flooding February 14th with three of them, including Jeff Wadlow's horror adventure Fantasy Island, Jeff Fowler's video game adaptation Sonic The Hedgehog, and Stella Meghie's romantic drama The Photograph. We'll be back next week to analyze how everything shakes out, including how Birds of Prey manages to do in its second week, so be sure to come back on Sunday!

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