LOS ANGELES, Calif. – “Birds of Prey,” the DC Comics' Harley Quinn spinoff, made a tepid debut in theaters over the weekend, opening in No. 1 but below expectations with $33.3 million domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday.
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)," an R-rated Warner Bros. release, arrived in theaters while its star — Margot Robbie — is nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “Bombshell” and the previous DC film, the $1 billion-grossing “Joker,” is up for a leading 11 Oscars.
But despite those lead-ins, “Birds of Prey” came in for a rocky landing. It had been expected to open around $50 million. It fared similarly overseas, grossing an estimated $48 million from 78 international markets.
Warner Bros. said the coronavirus impacted sales in Asia, though in South Korea, where “Birds of Prey” made $1.9 million, it came in second to a local release. “Birds of Prey” doesn't have a China release scheduled, and "Suicide Squad" never opened there. Cinemas in the country, the world's second largest movie market, have shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“Birds of Prey,” the week's lone new wide release, cost approximately $100 million to make. Cathy Yan directs the “Suicide Squad” spinoff, which Robbie also produced. Robbie stars as Quinn, the crazed criminal who after splitting with Joker is a solo vigilante. Reviews were mostly favorable, with an 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it a B-plus CinemaScore.
After three weeks atop the box office, Sony Picture's “Bad Boys for Life” dropped to second with $12 million in its fourth weekend. The action comedy, which reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, has grossed $336 million worldwide.
Though analysts are forecasting a down year for Hollywood at the box office, the success of “Bad Boys for Life" has helped drive the year's ticket sales to an almost 10% uptick over the first five weeks of 2019, according to data firm Comscore.
Ahead of the Academy Awards, several nominees padded their ticket-sales totals. Universal's “1917,” the Sam Mendes-directed World War I film, took in another $9 million in its seventh weekend, good for third place. The film, a favorite for Sunday night, has grossed $132.5 million domestically and $287.4 million globally.
Rian Johnson's “Knives Out,” nominated for best screenplay, added $2.4 million, bringing its North American total to $158.9 million. Lionsgate earlier this week confirmed a sequel to the acclaimed whodunit.
Greta Gerwig's Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women,” up for six Oscars including best picture, also ranked in the top 10 with $2.3 million. Its seven-week domestic total is $102.7 million. That gives the best-picture category five $100 million-grossing movies, including “1917," “Joker,” “Ford v Ferrari” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.” (Counting overseas sales, “Parasite” has also surpassed $100 million.) Netflix hasn't reported box-office data for its two best-picture contenders, “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.”
Holdovers “Doolittle” ($6.7 million in its fourth weekend) and “Jumaji: The Next Level” ($5.5 million) rounded out the top five.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore.
1. "Birds of Prey," $33.3 million ($48 million international).
2. “Bad Boys for Life,” $12 million.
3. “1917,” $9 million.
4. “ Doolittle,” $6.7 million.
5. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $5.5 million.
6. “The Gentlemen,” $4.2 million.
7. “Gretel & Hansel,” $3.5 million.
8. “Knives Out," $2.4 million.
9. “Little Women,” $2.3 million.
10. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” $2.2 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP