Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has a production budget of $75 million, making it the least expensive installment in the DCEU to date. The franchise experienced its fair share of ups and downs in the early going, but one of the definite highlights was Margot Robbie's performance as Harley in Suicide Squad. Perfectly encapsulating the spirit of the character, Robbie became an immediate fan-favorite and one of the most valuable assets WB had at their disposal. It's for that reason the studio explored a number of Harley-centric projects to develop, with Birds of Prey ultimately winning out.
The film hits theaters next year and wrapped filming back in April. When it premieres, it will be entering a very different landscape for DC movies. In the three years since Suicide Squad debuted, the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam all became well-received box office hits and WB seems to have found stable footing with superhero adaptations (the Justice League fiasco notwithstanding). Obviously, there's hope Birds of Prey will be able to keep the hot streak going, and it sounds like it won't have to break any box office records to do so.
In a profile on Robbie, Vogue notes that Birds of Prey cost $75 million to produce, which is peanuts compared to the price tags of other comic book films. This would mean Birds of Prey was the cheapest to make in the DCEU, coming well below Shazam's budget of $100 million. It was previously reported the film would have a smaller budget than other DC offerings.
The long-established general rule of thumb is that a film needs to earn twice its production budget at the worldwide box office in order to make back its money. If Birds of Prey really did cost $75 million, then its break even point is a measly $150 million, which seems like a figure it would be able to top in a single weekend. Harley Quinn was featured prominently in Suicide Squad's marketing campaign, and that film broke records when it came out in August 2016. There's been much interest in seeing the DCEU Harley return in some capacity, so Birds of Prey will be highly anticipated amongst audiences. Additionally, the movie's February release date means it won't face much in the way of direct competition. Birds of Prey debuts against Peter Rabbit 2, but they'll be targeting different demographics. There's also a one-week cushion between a new Kingsman film and Sonic the Hedgehog.
In the last handful of years, 20th Century Fox proved that a studio doesn't need to spend $200 million in order to make a high-quality superhero movie (see: Deadpool and Logan). An argument can be made that a smaller budget is actually beneficial, since it gives the creative team more freedom from an artistic perspective. Birds of Prey sounds like it'll fit that mold, with star Mary Elizabeth Winstead calling it "genuinely funny and weird" and something that could have come out of the 1990s. Since there isn't a fortune or the future of an entire shared universe riding on Birds of Prey, director Cathy Yan and company were able to play around more, hopefully making it a unique entry in the genre.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022