Birds of Prey, the latest comic book movie adaptation from DC comic, was supposed to make $55 million this weekend but came up short on it’s Thursday night debut, leaving some industry insiders and fans scratching their heads. The benchmark, we’d been told, was the near $6 million Thursday performance by Shazam! last year. But as Thursday’s box office take materialized Friday morning, Warner Brothers’ only consolation was that Shazam! had the benefit of earlier showings and a more family-friendly PG-13 rating. But now Deadline Hollywood has thrown another factor into the movie’s disappointing opening weekend performance: Donald J. Trump.
“Last night Birds of Prey over-indexed in the West & Southwest as expected,” explains Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. “Unfortunately, I’m told by distribution sources that these female charged event pics are challenged in the divisive, conservative leaning flyover states were Birds of Prey under-indexed.”
The liberal vs conservative mindsets on movies and TV have been on full display on social media and blogs since Comicsgate was born at almost the exact time Donald J. Trump was elected. For those who aren’t familiar with comicsgate, it’s described as part of the alt-right movement, and as a harassment campaign which targets women, people of color, and LGBT folk in the comic book industry. It has faced blame for the vandalism of stores that did not stock comics created by its members, and for threats of violence/rape against others.
Comicsgate’s hate speech might not have ever boiled to the surface of online political discourse had it not been for Trump’s election. The vitriol spewed at women, minorities, and LGBT daily from various blogs often mirror the hate speech that’s been the hallmark of his first campaign and months in office. The President’s behavior has only emboldened conservative America, and Comicsgate’s philosophy is now influencing the ratings and box office take of TV and movies.
Still, Birds of Prey debuted with the DCEU’s second highest Rotten Tomatoes score, and is Warner’s third straight well-reviewed film based on DC comics characters. It appears to have legs, and will likely benefit from good word or mouth.