Streaming Wars

Birds of Prey unexpected digital debut may mean early streaming release

Harley Quinn's starring role didn't do much at the box office, but 'Birds of Prey' could blow up on streaming.

With Hollywood in chaos over the coronavirus pandemic, movies are being delayed, rescheduled, and sometimes sent straight to digital release. Anything already on its way to a streaming debut is also getting pushed up for an audience of bored, quarantined movie fans desperate for something new to watch. Enter, Birds of Prey. The Harley Quinn movie from DC and Warner that hit theaters in early February just arrived in digital shops a few days early, and it could signal an early streaming release as well.

But where will Birds of Prey stream? Could it get a Netflix release date? Amazon? Hulu? HBO? Here's everything we know — or think we know — about the Harley Quinn movie's streaming debut.

Warner Bros. announced this week that Birds of Prey would release digitally on March 24, pushing up the video-on-demand debut. A digital copy of Birds of Prey will cost $19.99.

Here's the official announcement:

On March 24, Birds of Prey and the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others.

That's exciting news for anyone bored at home and eager to check out the Harley Quinn movie. And while Birds of Prey is far from perfect (the beginning really drags and the action often feels uninspired with a few sparkling exceptions), it's still a fun movie worth checking out.

But what if you don't feel like dropping $20 on a movie you'll probably only watch once? In other words: When will Birds of Prey get a streaming release date? We don't have an answer, but this early digital release raises some interesting questions.

Will Birds of Prey get a Netflix streaming release date?

Don't count on it. Warner, which owns the right to DC movies, is owned by the same company that controls HBO. That means these comic book movies all end up on HBO Now/Go eventually — and once HBO MAX launches that's likely where they'll end up.

So when will Birds of Prey release on HBO Go/Now?

Again, we can't say for sure. These movies typically take nine months to go from theatrical release to streaming. On that schedule, Birds of Prey won't hit HBO until October 2020 — just in time to spark a fresh wave of Harley Quinn Halloween costumes. But with the digital release moved up, streaming could get pushed forward too.

Disney just released Frozen 2 on Disney+ ahead of time, and you can probably expect more of the same as this pandemic drags on. We still don't expect Birds of Prey to hit streaming in the next few weeks, but maybe in the next few months?

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