Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan broke her silence on the perception that her DC movie had “disappointing” box office numbers. She sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about a bunch of the things surrounding the film. One topic that was going to have to be addressed upfront is how the movie was received by larger audiences. Now, Birds of Prey is beloved by the fanbase. (You can see evidence of that with how much fun everyone had during the #QuarantineWatchParty Comicbook.com did around the film.) But, there is still the perception that the movie underperformed, and Yan thinks it is more complicated than that.
"I know that the studio had really high expectations for the movie — as we all did. There were also undue expectations on a female-led movie, and what I was most disappointed in was this idea that perhaps it proved that we weren’t ready for this yet," Yan explained. "That was an extra burden that, as a woman-of-color director, I already had on me anyway. So, yes, I think there were certainly different ways you could interpret the success or lack of success of the movie, and everyone has a right to do that. But, I definitely do feel that everyone was pretty quick to jump on a certain angle."
The narrative point that the director makes here is more than just a case of sour grapes. She has a leg to stand on when you look at the numbers in contrast to messages that surround the film. Comicbook.com’s Nicole Drum summed this up excellently in her analysis of the reception to Birds of Prey. Harley’s outing is only a “flop” if you’re measuring it against the giant tentpole blockbusters from DC and Marvel, and that’s not what the film is:
“Birds of Prey isn't a standard superhero movie and shouldn't be judged as one, but there's something more to consider as well when looking at how Birds of Prey is discussed. On Twitter, a few people have compared the language of how headlines have addressed Birds of Prey to the language used to describe a film with a similar budget and similar opening haul: Ford v Ferrari. In the case of Ford v Ferrari, it's opening weekend was described as "racing to first place" or as a "strong" opening with $31 million domestic while Birds of Prey had distinctly negative phrasing with words such as "disappoints" and "went astray" with its slightly better take of $33 million.”
“Similar budget, both are smaller films with an action-oriented slant (though Ford v Ferrari features cars rather than brawling), Ford v Ferrari even had something that Birds of Prey did not have in the way of major star power with Christian Bale and Matt Damon in starring roles. One can even argue that they are both niche films yet Ford is praised for its modest box office take while Birds of Prey is sneered at for the same dollar amount.”
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