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When the newest DC movie announced its official title, people were certainly surprised to learn it would be called Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). It was certainly an unusual title, but you couldn't fault it for creativity. However, it seems that maybe it was a little too creative, as many theaters have started to display the title with the much simpler Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, and looking the movie up on theater websites also reveal this new title.
While it appears this title change is simply for simplicity when it comes to theater display and search, and not an official title change for the film, which will still use the original complete title in all marketing, Twitter is having a blast with the about face, as you would expect it to. The biggest thing this new title does, it put Harley Qunn's name first rather than Birds of Prey, which makes sense considering that Harley is the true focus of the film. Even people who really liked the movie are calling it out for what appears to be a marketing misstep.
The opening weekend for Birds of Prey wasn't a strong one as it only grossed $35 million domestically, when Warner Bros. was expecting something closer to $45 million, and some box office tracking was indicating the film could do even better than that. While there are any number of reasons for the lower than expected gross, it seems that one of them might be a feeling that some audiences simply couldn't find the movie, or were confused about what it was.
Even though the actual title of the movie has not changed, the details regarding this change in policy, which allows theaters to list the film under the different title, just sort of happened without explanation, so it really does look like a studio trying to fix a perceived problem with the movie after the fact.
Exactly why this decision was made now isn't entirely clear. Since the official film title isn't changing, it seems like this might have been done because theaters requested the change, but it seems unlikely that anybody who is actually looking for Birds of Prey is actually having trouble finding it. Still, if you're in the theater to see something else, and you see Harley Quinn's name on the marquee, that might get your attention more than seeing Birds of Prey. While the comic book movie focused audience will certainly be interested either way, the more casual fan, who almost certainly didn't show up this past weekend, might take notice.
If there's one thing going for Birds of Prey, it's that there isn't a great deal of note coming out over the next couple of weeks that is likely to compete with the film, and those that have seen the movie have largely enjoyed it, so positive word of mouth might be enough to give the film some legs and ultimately make it more financially successful.
And maybe, the lack of competition, combined with this minor tweak will actually be enough to help Birds of Prey, which is still the better shorthand title, no matter what else we're calling it.