Margot Robbie’s test

Sarah Posted by Sarah at January 20, 2020 20:07:39 January 20, 2020 20:07:39

Margot Robbie is having a busy winter. She’s in the middle of award season as an Oscar nominee, and she has Birds of Prey opening on February 7, which is Oscar weekend. Over the next few weeks she’ll be splitting her time between nominee appearances and Birds of Prey press, which, as a person who doesn’t like going places or doing things, sounds like a nightmare. But let’s examine the next few weeks in Margot Robbie’s life. First: the Oscars. It’s a big deal to be a nominee and everything, but let’s admit that this is not Robbie’s year, and she will continue to watch Laura Dern’s acceptance speeches like the rest of us. We will be seeing a lot of Nominee Margot Robbie, but this is not the area in which she dominates.

Where she is dominating is Birds of Prey. This is the project she pitched and made happen as a producer. (She is also the producer of Promising Young Woman, which is headed to Sundance next week.) She is the star as Harley Quinn, but she is also the power player creating all this work. Robbie has wasted no time on this front, almost as soon as she was established as a star, she started putting that status to work as a producer, and she didn’t start with little projects and work her way up, she started with prestige bio-pics and freaking comic book movies. My absolute favorite thing about Margot Robbie is that she refused to “wait for her turn”, she just stepped right up and started swinging for the fences.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is enchanted with her gutsy power moves. I have heard, for instance, that there is not a lot of confidence at Warner Brothers regarding Birds of Prey (or Wonder Woman 1984). I don’t know how much of that is really to do with the movie, though, and how much is just down to dude studio flaks who don’t really know how to gauge for female audiences and interest—they didn’t have confidence in Wonder Woman, either, and that worked out more than fine. So this is not a knock on Birds of Prey, I have heard nothing about how the movie actually is, just that dudes don’t trust it. 

Odds are in Robbie’s favor, though. For one thing, Birds of Prey has a sub-$100 million budget. It’s a more moderate proposition and doesn’t have to earn a billion dollars to be a success. And to that end, the early tracking has it opening between $40-60 million, which would be a solid-to- good opening weekend. And Birds of Prey has the entire month of February to itself, with no direct competition except for Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, which looks f-cking TERRIBLE. If the word on Birds is even just mediocre, it can still leg it out for lack of better options in February. I don’t really get the lack of confidence wafting from Warners because Birds is pretty well insulated from true failure, except that some guys are still really confused about this whole “women also like to see comic book movies” thing. 

But it does feel like there is still some ground to cover when it comes to promoting Birds of Prey. I don’t think non-superhero fans really have awareness of any of these characters beyond Harley Quinn, and even then, Harley might be tainted for some by her association with Suicide Squad, which is not beloved. I’m not convinced the marketing has really made up for those things. And as we enter the final stage of the marketing push for this movie, I’m not really feeling an increased sense of urgency to get people out to see it. Again, none of this is about the movie itself, just the way the studio is positioning it. It feels like Warners is taking for granted that Harley Quinn fans will show up, and not working to win over anyone else. They are selling Birds of Prey entirely on Margot Robbie’s appeal, so this is a real test of her star power, and she could not be more visible over the next few weeks. Time to find out how big of a star she really is.

Attached: Margot Robbie at the SAG Awards last night.

Photos:
Axelle/ Bauer-griffin/ Jon Kopaloff/ Steve Granitz/ Gregg Deguire/ Kevin Mazur/ Emma Mcintyre/ Getty Images

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