Perhaps you decided to spend the holiday weekend watching some good old fashioned superhero violence in the form of last year’s pretty good (and perhaps poorly named) Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on HBO Max. If you’re one such person, you were greeted with a card saying that the film had been edited from its original version and may have noticed it was considerably more tame compared to its R-rated theatrical cut. (Basically, the same version they’ve been playing on TNT every other weekend for about a month or so.)
You’re not alone, and the news quickly spread on social media about this sudden change. From raunchy visual gags and swears to Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn flashing her middle fingers, the things that partially make the movie what it is are currently absent in the streaming version. Since it was the first R-rated movie of DC’s cinematic universe that wasn’t an alternate edition of a film that already released, fans were worried that the original version may be forever lost on the service, but that’s fortunately not the case. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. confirmed to IGN that Birds’ broadcast version was added on accident, and the R-rated film will be “available on HBO Max instead,” though at the time of writing, the PG-13 version remains.
In the long run, this is nothing more of a minor irritation and the issue should hopefully be resolved before the weekend ends. But if you’re more interested in the preservation of film, it’s a reminder that streaming services, even on accident, run the risk of erasing film history. Fans of film as a medium have felt more than a little vindicated about this, and have taken to social media to remind folks to grab physical copies of their favourite films when possible. The alternative is…well, this, but more deliberate.