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Cathy Yan Cites Warner Bros.’s Creative Control As Reason Birds of Prey Failed

Damage control for the performance of Birds of Prey continues a year after it came and went from theaters. 

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Talking to The Playlist [2], director Cathy Yan stated Warner Bros. got their way but insinuated it might have been better if she had creative control.

“It was definitely challenging,” said Yan. “Dead Pigs [her debut feature] was such a singular, pure version of myself.”

She continued, “And I think when you’re dealing with a budget like [Birds of Prey had] and the sort of pressures of a studio, especially a studio that is undergoing a lot of change, inevitably you end up having to compromise and fight for stuff. And you win some and you lose a lot. It’s just kind of how it is.”

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Yan “would have loved to have more control over the edit” and went into what “insanely wonderful opportunity” it would be to see David Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad which she champions.

“I do know that there was a very different tone of [the] movie that [Ayer] had planned for Suicide Squad that never really made it,” she said.

Zack Snyder got to complete his version of Justice League. David Ayer being allowed the same luxury would further a precedent with WB of restoring a director’s vision. 

Related: David Ayer Says Suicide Squad Was ‘Ripped to Pieces’ And Missing 40 Minutes Of Footage [4]

Yan isn’t sure that will happen with BOP which experienced issues of reshoots like the other two films, supervised by stunt coordinator and John Wick director Chad Stahelski.

“I don’t know if there’s a Cathy Yan cut out there, but I think for any filmmaker, all of us are in it because we want to express ourselves as wholly as possible,” she said. “And to match what you ultimately see on screen with what’s in our head.”

Yan isn’t ruling out doing another blockbuster, or working with Warner again, as long as she finds the story compelling and has “a little bit more control over the story I’m telling.”

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YouTuber Mr H Reviews sounded off on Yan’s comments in a recent news video. He called her commentary “damage control” and “hilarious.”

What he found particularly funny was the way the film was pitched compared to other DC movies. Yan is on record stating the pitch for BOP was a sizzle reel of moments depicting, as Mr H puts it, “women power, man bad” or “everything anti-female. It was misandry.”

Consequently, he finds it hard to blame the studio in most respects when their meddling is a fact of life and directors getting final cut is rare. “No, love, you pitched it as misandry, hate men, girl power,” he said, later pointing out nobody wanted to see her movie, men or women.

Related — Birds of Prey: Cathy Yan Says “Undue Expectations” for Birds of Prey Were an “Extra Burden” on Her [6]

Warner is to blame insofar as they greenlit it. “They’re idiots. They never should have greenlit it in the first place,” said Mr H, adding as proud as Yan was of her sizzle reel and work on the film, walking back her sentiments looks bad.

Birds of Prey fell well below expectations at the box office upon opening weekend. When it was released, COVID hadn’t knocked the entire world off its axis just yet, so the pandemic can’t exactly be blamed.

BOP enjoyed some success on the VOD market but would have gone down as the worst-rated loser of 2020 for DC Films if not for Wonder Woman 1984.

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When you look at the numbers, WW84 was a bigger disaster in every way primarily due to the fact it’s not recouping its budget. Although it has the pandemic as an excuse Stateside, the sequel did very poorly overseas, especially in China, when logistically it shouldn’t have.

It also scores lower among viewers on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB than any other DCEU entry.

BOP, meanwhile, managed to eke out a modest $201.8 million worldwide on a reported $82 million budget. That aside, we probably won’t see any follow-ups.