- After a less than stellar opening weekend, Birds of Prey will be renamed in order to boost its SEO quality.
- Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will now be called Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey so that audiences can clearly tell it’s a Harley Quinn film when searching for it online.
- The new title is intended to only be used for its theatrical run.
- Compared to other DC films, it had a poor opening weekend, with some blaming the name, R-rating, and release date as potential reasons as to why.
- The film also received criticism from some for not featuring its cast in “sexy” enough attire.
Birds of Prey’s Name Change
After bringing in a disappointing opening box office haul on its opening weekend, Birds of Prey will be getting a search-friendly name change.
The Harley Quinn-centered film originally touted the lengthy title of Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Now, movie theaters will list it simply as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
This comes after the Margot Robbie-led picture brought in $33 million domestically during its opening weekend, much lower than Warner Brothers’ projections of $45 million. A representative for Warner Bros. told The Verge that the name change is to specifically enhance “search expansion for ticket sites.”
The move is essentially aimed at making the name of the film more user and SEO-friendly for moviegoers looking to see the new Harley Quinn project by making it clear that the film is about the famous character. Now, rather than having her name buried at the end of a parenthetical, it’s the first thing potential audiences will see.
The change will likely not be permanent, though. Once the movie makes its way to DVD and streaming, it could still be called Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). As least for now, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is intended to last only as long as its theater run.
DC Box Office Hauls
In terms of Birds of Prey’s box office numbers, DC and Warner Bros. have reason to be disappointed. Even though it topped the weekend box office and brought in under $80 million worldwide, which is just five million shy of its budget, the bar is set high for films of this nature. Some pictures might be pleased with a $33 million domestic debut, however, superhero– or in this case, supervillain films– typically do better.
DC’s recent film Joker became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, making it past the billion-dollar benchmark by the end of its run. The Oscar-winning Joaquin Phoenix project also had a smaller budget than Birds of Prey and pulled in three times the money in the United States on its opening weekend. Other big movies like Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman ended up raking in over $100 million on their opening weekends.
Potential Factors for Low Box Office
This all leads to the larger question at hand: Why is Birds of Prey not getting the attention that DC and Warner Bros. were hoping for? From the critics’ side, the movie is getting a good amount of praise. On Rotten Tomatoes, it boasts an 80% rating with an audience score of 81%.
The issue of the name is one that Warner Bros. is already addressing. Box office analyst Jeff Book told Variety that “not naming [the film] ‘Harley Quinn’ was a huge misfire.”
“It was a niche comic-book movie,” Bock later added. “Warner Bros. keeps having to learn these lessons.”
Birds of Prey would not be the first comic book movie to deal with titling issues potentially impacting its box office haul. In its early marketing, Dark Phoenix rarely attached the X-Men brand to it in its title. Matched by poor reviews, the movie also brought in a lackluster amount of cash.
It is unlikely that this is the only factor standing in Harley Quinn’s way. The films R-rating does it no favors, as this isolates it from young girls who might be a fan of the anti-heroine. Still, Joker broke records with an R-rating, meaning DC likely still had high hopes.
What Birds of Prey did have to face was a February opening, which can be a dry month as far as box office earnings. Comic book movies, however, do have a good record of breaking that mold. Black Panther broke financial records with a February release. Logan and Deadpool, both of which also had the burden of an R-rating, were massive successes in the month.
Female-Led Comic Book Movies
Some have pointed to the general backlash female-led comic book movies usually face upon their release. This trend extends back to Wonder Woman in 2017 when mainly male fans were upset the film was, for certain showtimes, being screened to all-female audiences. When Captain Marvel came out in 2019, again mainly male fans were upset by feminist messaging used by Brie Larson leading to its release. Some even said they would boycott the movie because of it.
Both those movies did well, so to say their earnings were impacted would be hard. It is worth noting, though, because Birds of Prey is following suit and has gender-based criticism of its own. Some users believed the movie was not sexy enough for a Harley Quinn standalone film.
“They’ve removed any sex appeal these characters had to appeal to a female ‘girl power audience instead of the core male comic book audience,” one Twitter user wrote in a now-viral tweet before the film’s release. “They literally don’t know who they’re making this movie for.”
The idea that the film is for a “core male comic book audience” is only partially true. According to Variety, in its opening weekend, 54% of viewers were male. So while the theaters were filled slightly more by men, it was too close to a 50/50 split to state that the audience was “core” male.
This comment received a lot of backlash online. Some argued that it degrades women to being worth nothing more than their looks, while others argued that the characters in the film did have appeal and were attractive.
One of Birds of Prey’s producers, Sue Kroll ended up responding to this.
“I read that and I thought, ‘Oh my God. That’s so asinine’” she said.
“When you look at the comics, you see these women in there, it’s always very tight clothing, short shorts, boobs pushed up. It’s always very graphic in that way. And we were having none of that,” she added. “But I think they all look beautiful and sexy, and if you look at [Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell] and her costumes, she’s wearing a bustier [bust-ear] but of a different kind. That’s not sexy? She’s not sexy in the club? You bet she is. She’s gorgeous. That’s nuts.”
As was the case with Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, it’s hard to tell if this kind of backlash affected Birds of Prey in terms of revenue. Still, it does show that female-led comic films usually do have a battle to fight every time they come out.
Because of these narratives around it, many are praising Birds of Prey online in hopes that people will see it and save it from its current box office situation.
As the movie enters the weekend under the Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey title, it will face new competition. The weekend encompasses both President’s Day and Valentine’s Day, which could help fill theaters. But movies like Sonic the Hedgehog, The Photograph, Downhill, and Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island will also be opening, meaning more new films could knock it from the top box office spot.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Verge) (Entertainment Weekly)
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)
Twitch Faces Backlash After Booking Megan Thee Stallion At TwitchCon Amid Creator Pay Cuts
The cut in revenue share has ignited severe backlash on Twitch, where users argue pay for creators should be increased, not slashed.
Revenue Share Shake Up
Twitch users are criticizing the company for hiring artist Megan Thee Stallion to perform at TwitchCon just one week after announcing cutbacks to top creator pay.
Last week, the video and streaming platform said that starting in June of next year, some creators will receive less revenue from their subscriptions. While the standard split for subscription revenue is 50/50, some major streamers previously received a more favorable 70/30 share in premium agreement terms.
Many creators have long argued that everyone should get that 70/30 share, but Twitch took a step in the opposite direction. In the future, streamers with premium terms will only get the 70/30 slice for their first $100,000 from subscription revenue. After that, they will get bumped down to the regular 50/50 cut.
The company argued the move was necessary as the premium terms previously lacked transparency and consistency, insisting it tried to modify the policy in a way that impacted the least amount of creators. According to Twitch’s statement, 90% of streamers on standard agreements will not even be impacted by the change.
Still, this move outraged Twitch users who were furious the company was not investing more in the creators that bring so many viewers to its platform. Those frustrations were exacerbated on Wednesday when the company announced Megan Thee Stallion would make an appearance at TwitchCon, a weekend-long event set to take place in San Diego in early October.
Backlash Continues to Mount
While no details of Megan Thee Stallion’s agreement to perform have been disclosed, one can assume she charges a pretty penny to book at an event of this nature. Critics argued that if Twitch is willing to spend money on her, it should be willing to spend it on its own streamers.
“So Twitch can’t afford to pay their creators 70/30, can’t fix their media player that crashes after each ad, can’t enforce their policies so people aren’t doing inappropriate things on stream, but they can afford paying celebrities to promote their streaming site?” one person wrote.
“It’s weird that a company that just announced a bunch of budget cuts due to infrastructure costs goes out and grabs an A-list musician instead of promoting their own musicians that run on their platform,” another person claimed.
“Instead of giving your creators a cut they deserve when they do so much work, this is what you do…?” one user asked. “Maybe give your creators a better deal instead of wasting their hard earned money on things we don’t even want.”
Twitch has not responded to the outrage, but Megan Thee Stallion was not the only music act the Amazon-owned service booked for the event. Kim Petras and Meet Me at the Altar will also take the stage at TwitchCon.
The backlash comes as concerns have been mounting against Twitch for a plethora of reasons including creator pay, gambling streams, and more.
In recent months, some of the platform’s biggest names have left Twitch in favor of rival services like YouTube Gaming.
“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories
Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”
“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix
While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.
According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.
“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story.
Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”
Victims’ Families Speak Out
The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother.
She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”
“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote.
“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued.
Obsession With Dahmer
Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer.
Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own.
“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”
“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”
Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans.