The latest entry in the DC Universe of superhero movies bombed badly at the box office, and feminist critics are blaming the misogyny and sexism of the male audience.
Others say the unwieldy title of "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" might be partially to blame.
Whatever the cause, "Birds of Prey" only racked up a disappointing $33 million in its domestic opening weekend. It is estimated to have cost upwards of $100 million to produce and market.
Actor Ewan McGregor explicitly described the movie as a feminist-themed attack on misogyny in an interview from October 2019.
"What interested me with Birds of Prey is that it's a feminist film. It is very finely written, there is in the script a real look on misogyny," he said. "And I think we need that, we need to be more aware of how we behave with the opposite sex. We need to be taught to change."
McGregor went on to say that the movie tackles "everyday misogyny," as well as overt sexism.
"[I]n the Birds of Prey dialogues, there is always a hint of everyday misogyny, of those things you say as a man you do not even realize, mansplaining," he explained. "All it's in the script in a very subtle way. I found that brilliant."
Feminists agreed, but were angered by the poor showing at the box office and blamed male misogyny and sexism.
"The blatant sexism around the conversations about #BirdsOfPrey is wild," tweeted women's rights advocate Sai Sailaja Seshadri.
The blatant sexism around the conversations about #BirdsOfPrey is wild. It’s funny what kind of standards everyone… https://t.co/OBcd1tzKE9— sai (@sai) 1581310411.0
"It's funny what kind of standards everyone holds women-centric films to, and everything has to be 'perfect' but dude-bro movies can lack good actors, story lines and logic and still be praised," she added.
Comic book legend Gerry Conway agreed that sexism was to blame.
"I'm so disappointed by 'Birds of Prey' box office and what it says about the male audience for superhero films. Here's my controversial take (don't hate me): the movie didn't pull teenage boys because Margot Robbie didn't want Harley Quinn to be sexualized as she was in [Suicide Squad]," he tweeted.
"Unfortunately what she may have proved (who can say off one movie) is that the male audience for superhero movies isn't as mature as we'd like to hope, and the female audience isn't large enough to compensate," he added.
Warner Bros. is changing the title of the movie to "Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey"in hopes of raising audience interest.