Birds of Prey director says there were ‘undue expectations’ on Margot Robbie film

Annie Lord
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, right) with 12-year-old pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) in 'Birds of Prey: AP

Cathy Yan, the director of Birds of Prey, has spoken out about the film’s disappointing performance at the box office, saying that it had “undue expectations” on it.

The DC film saw Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn join fellow women of Gotham in a fight against the evil mob boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Birds of Prey cost around $80m (£62m) to make and was projected to take $110m-$125m (£97m-£110m) at the box office, but instead took $81m (66m).

Prior to this, Margot Robbie appeared as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, a film which had a record-breaking $133.6m ($103.6m) opening.

“I know that the studio had really high expectations for the movie – as we all did,” Yan told The Hollywood Reporter. “There were also undue expectations on a female-led movie, and what I was most disappointed in was this idea that perhaps it proved that we weren’t ready for this yet.”

She continued: “That was an extra burden that, as a woman of colour director, I already had on me anyway. So, yes, I think there were certainly different ways you could interpret the success or lack of success of the movie, and everyone has a right to do that. But I definitely do feel that everyone was pretty quick to jump on a certain angle.”

After the film was released in February, cinemas altered its title in a bid to encourage ticket sales. The original name was Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, but representatives from Warner Bros shortened it to Birds of Prey to make it easier for fans to find the movie.

It’s possible the film’s R-rating held back younger female audiences from being able to enjoy the film.

The Birds of Prey comic writer Gail Simone criticised the film’s depiction of the character of Cassandra Cain. While in the original comics, Cass struggles with speech, reading and socialisation, this aspect of her character was largely missing from the film.

Simone said in a Twitter thread that she sees this as a “missed opportunity”, adding: “I love Cass dearly, and this is not a Cass I recognise.”

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