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HBO Max Censors Birds of Prey: R-Rated Version Replaced On Streaming

HBO Max replaces the Birds of Prey R-rated cut with an edited TV-14 version, removing Harley Quinn’s explicit language and visual gags.

HBO Max replaces the Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) R-rated cut with an edited TV-14 version on streaming. A loose spinoff from 2016’s Suicide Squad – insofar as it follows Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) after the events of that movie – Birds of Prey wasn’t the first R-rated superhero movie, but it was the first entry in the DC Extended Universe continuity to be rated R. Additionally, it was the DCEU’s first fully female-fronted movie, with Robbie leading a cast that included Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. The movie being female-led even extended behind the camera, with Robbie serving as a producer and Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) directing from a script by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee).


However, despite largely positive Birds of Prey movie reviews, the movie underwhelmed at the box office, earning $201 million worldwide against a reported budget of $100 million. Although there are a few factors that may have contributed to the disappointing box office performance – including the film’s title obscuring Harley Quinn as well as the widespread shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic less than two months after Birds of Prey’s release date – its R rating is one such factor. A great deal of superhero movies are rated PG-13 so that they can be widely available to families and viewers under 18, but Birds of Prey being R-rated meant it was limiting that segment of its potential audience. Now, a censored version of the movie has replaced Yan’s original theatrical cut on Warner Bros’ streaming service HBO Max.

Related: Birds of Prey Was A Box Office Disappointment (But Can It Be Saved?)

Reported by CBR, as of this writing, Warner Bros. has a censored version of Birds of Prey on streaming platform HBO Max. It includes a card at the start saying: “This film has been modified as follows from its original version: it has been edited for content.” Within the film, curse words have been removed or dubbed over, and explicit visuals have been edited, like Harley Quinn giving a two-finger hand gesture instead of the middle finger and Renee Montoya’s “I shaved my balls for this” shirt blurred out. Per CBR, this is the TV-14 version of Birds of Prey running on broadcast network TNT despite the HBO Max landing page for the movie claiming it’s the R-rated version. See photos of some of the changes below:

It’s unclear if this censored version of Birds of Prey being the only available cut on HBO Max was an intentional decision by the streaming service or some kind of technical mixup as WarnerMedia has not yet commented on the situation. It’s frustrating that Yan’s original R-rated vision for Birds of Prey isn’t the one easily available on WB’s official streaming platform, especially since the landing page for the movie doesn’t say so – it’s only when a viewer starts the movie that they find out the film’s been edited. Unless this was a technical error that will be fixed, those who want to view Yan’s R-rated Birds of Prey will have to look elsewhere or buy a physical copy.

It’s possible, if it wasn’t an error, that Birds of Prey’s censored version being on HBO Max is an indication of the streaming service trying to build out a wider audience for the Black Canary movie that’s reportedly in development. Since the Black Canary film is reported to bring back Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance, if it’s going to be a more family friendly outing than Birds of Prey, HBO Max might want to make sure their full targeted audience can watch the movie where the character was first introduced. However, there’s no indication the censored Birds of Prey movie being on HBO Max is tied to the Black Canary film. Until WarnerMedia offers any insight, it remains uncertain why HBO Max has a censored version of Birds of Prey on their streaming service.

Next: How HBO Max Is Setting Up A Better Birds of Prey Movie

Source: CBR

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