Box Office: 'Birds of Prey' Eyes $50M-Plus U.S. Launch

DC's female-led, R-rated pic is the first studio superhero offering of 2020.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will easily soar to No. 1 in the U.S. this weekend with a domestic box office of $50 million or more.

Warner Bros. and DC's female-led feature is the year's first studio superhero pic and sees Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn following 2016's Suicide Squad. Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez and Mary Elizabeth Winstead star as her superhero pals.

Directed by Cathy Yan, the R-rated offering is the weekend's only new wide release and will have to compete with Sunday's Academy Awards telecast, where Robbie herself is up for best supporting actress for her performance in Bombshell (she also starred in Quentin Tarantino's award contender Once Upon a Time in Hollywood).

Birds of Prey follows hot on the heels of DC's global blockbuster Joker, which is up for numerous Oscars (star Joaquin Phoenix is a frontrunner for best actor). Joker is not part of the DC Extended Universe, while Birds of Prey will be the eighth such film in the DCEU.

The pic, which cost $80 million to $90 million to produce after tax incentives and rebates, also flies into numerous markets overseas, where it is hoping to take off with $60 million-plus. The rest of the cast is led by Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong and Ewan McGregor. Sue Kroll, Robbie and Bryan Unkeless produced.

February has transformed into a launching pad for superhero movies following the success of 20th Century Fox's R-rated Deadpool (2016) and Black Panther (2018). Both of those titles opened over Presidents Day weekend; Birds of Prey is leaving the nest a week earlier.

Deadpool shattered records when posting a three-day debut of $132.4 million over the mid-February holiday weekend in 2016 and $152.2 million for the four-day holiday. Two years later, Marvel and Disney's Black Panther blew past that with $202 million for the three days and $242.2 million for the four.

Suicide Squad opened in summer 2016 to $133.2 million, but  comparisons to Birds of Prey are tough, since the former went out in August.

Birds of Prey should benefit from strong reviews (presently, its Rotten Tomatoes score rests at 90 percent), and it hopes to maintain momentum over Presidents Day weekend.