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The original title Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a mouthful and it puts the lead character -- Harley Quinn -- at the very end. Most of us just called the film Birds of Prey out of expedience, but who are the Birds of Prey? It's a Harley Quinn movie starring Margot Robbie's character from Suicide Squad, with backup from other DC characters. Well, why not say that?
So now major theater chains are showing the movie as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. That puts the star up front in the marketing. My local Regal in New Hampshire is one of the theaters to show the new title:
Should that have been the title all along? I would say yes, or something like that. Is this locking up the barn after the horse has been stolen? Eh. Maybe. But maybe it'll help get the word out. After all, Birds of Prey -- or Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey now -- does have good reviews and strong fan scores. The people who saw it seemed to really like it, just not enough people saw it. One reason might be confusing messaging about who and what the movie is about.
Then again, did any Harley Quinn fans NOT know this was a movie starring Harley Quinn? Who was this movie for? That's one question that might've gotten lost. If it was for Harley fans, I think they knew. If they wanted to attract more mainstream fans, yeah, Harley Quinn is a brand name that might've helped sell the movie.
Either way, Harley Quinn's name probably should've been up front all along, since most of the trailers and images focused on her character. She is the one we know from Suicide Squad, and even if Margot Robbie wanted to share the screen with new characters, she is the entry point for fans.
That said, some fans are disappointed at the title change, since they (like Harley Quinn's co-creator) loved DC/Warner Bros.' bonkers original title. It was very Harley.
You can't please everyone. I do think this was a smart move, but one that would've been smarter a few months ago. Not that the title would've been the only reason for the disappointing opening. And plenty of films have disappointing openings for their own reasons. It's never just one thing. And it doesn't have to be a death sentence. One weekend does not make or break a movie. Plus, there's the international box office and the home release whenever Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey shows up on digital/DVD/Blu-ray.