'Birds Of Prey' Got A Title Change Because Moviegoers Are Apparently Idiots

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has proven to be a contentious property, less in the usual way that woman-led action movies divide a moviegoing public and more in the way that you might argue over whether the figure in the optical illusion is a duck or a rabbit. Depending on who you ask, it's a flop, or it's not a flop. It's the worst opening weekend the DC Extended Universe has ever seen, and/or it's a lower-budget niche film that did as well as could be expected. The people who finance movies don't tend to appreciate nuance, though, so again, depending on who you ask, either Warner Bros. or movie theater chains decided to change the name that appeared on their websites and marquees from the original, admittedly stupid title to the boring but much more straightforward Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.

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You might think that one dumb neologism couldn't have been keeping people away from a hugely anticipated movie, and you would be right. The reason behind the change was less philosophical disagreement and more the cinematic version of search-engine optimization. Apparently, people were searching movie theater websites for the Harley Quinn movie and couldn't find it. Others were confused about what the movie was about because reading to the end of a sentence is hard (and probably because it doesn't fit on a lot of marquees). This might seem like an absurdly pessimistic evaluation of viewers as a whole, but these are people who have gotten very rich knowing how to sell movies, so this is apparently the state of things. It was one of the reasons cited for the perceived failure of Dark Phoenix, too. People just didn't know it was an X-Men movie.

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If we trust that the people who run movie studios and theater chains know what they're doing, this raises a number of alarming questions about the people who make or break a movie's success. Who are these people who are just showing up to the theater without knowing anything about the movies currently playing and thinking "Birds of Prey? I don't want no nature documentary"? Are they the same people who know they want to see the Harley Quinn movie but spend .3 seconds scanning the search results before giving up and watching 1917? Bring them forth. They must be studied.

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