After a more than modest start and a rapid collapse at the box office, Morbius confirms Sony’s disaster and further jeopardizes the studio’s already wobbly Spider-Verse.
Just a few months after Spider-Man: No Way Home became the biggest hit of all time for Sony Pictures, the exit of Morbius has everything of a violent reversal of medal. Building on the success of Venom: Let There Be Carnage and the excitement around Marvel’s Multiverse, the studio promised to expand its Spider-Verse with a new character, but also to bring its universe a little closer to the MCU by recovering the Vulture by Michael Keaton introduced in Spider-Man: Homecomingwhile winking at the events of Spider-Man: Far from Home.
But unlike Venom and Venom 2 which made up for their negative reviews and failed ambitions with a strong box office, Jared Leto’s vampire badly broke his teeth in theatersweakening a little more the “extended” universe of Sony.
From the outset, it seemed unlikely that Morbius has the same success as Venom, the first film in the Spider-Verse and the first installment in the franchise starring Tom Hardy. If the symbiote is among the most emblematic enemies of the Spider-Man and has been popularized with the general public in the Spider Man 3 by Sam Raimi, the doctor Michael Morbius is a much more anecdotal villain in the Spider-Man universewhich primarily got a guest appearance in the 1994 anime series.
Take a near-unknown supervillain to the battalion and headline Jared Leto after outcry and mockery over his Joker in Suicide Squad so was not probably not the best sales or promotional arguments to sell the project to the public.
Neither do these kinds of images…
In addition to the anti-hero’s lack of notoriety, Morbius was also a victim of the pandemic which hit the industry hard right from the start of 2020. The Daniel Espinosa-directed film was originally scheduled for release on August 5, 2020, but was postponed to 2021 and then 2022, counting five reports that required a relaunch the promotional campaign several times, while adapting to the Marvel films released in the meantime.
At some point, the feature film was to land before Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home, but did not land in theaters until April 1, 2022 in the United States, more than two years after the first trailer aired and a few months after the opening of the Multiverse which it was therefore forced to integrate to the story. Except that the trailer for the film which confirmed the presence of the Vulture was actually false advertising since the villain ofHomecoming only appears in a shameful post-credits scene of Morbius who doesn’t care about fans and any form of consistency between the Spider-Verse and the MCU, which partly got the better of its disastrous theatrical run.
The ugly lie to stir up the fans
THE FALSE START
Even though Morbius is not a very attractive character on paper, previews held in the United States the day before the national release still made $5.7 million. This sum is obviously far from the 50 million dollars collected by No Way Home in preview, and represents only half of the first receipts of Venom and Venom 2but exceeds those of the company’s other blockbusters, including Uncharted (3.7 million) or Ghostbusters: Legacy (4.5 million).
The enthusiasm of the North American public was therefore not comparable to that of an MCU film, but not non-existent either. However, the first projections were double-edged since they were followed by negative reactionsespecially from usually more lenient influencers who were not subject to an embargo.
Normal skin reaction after viewing
Not surprisingly, Morbius therefore only pocketed $39 million for its first weekend of operation, slightly more than the 33 million forecast by Sony (which we can imagine having deliberately underestimated the figures so that the shower seems less icy). The result, however, is far from glorious: in comparison, Venom raised over $80 million for its home opener and Venom 2 over 90 million.
The film thus achieved the worst start of a Marvel – Spider-Verse and MCU combined – even though it was the most distributed in the territory for its opening with 4200 theaters available. The vampire also took advantage of a clear poster with The Batman at the end of its course for its fourth week of operation.
On the other hand, even if the result is feverish, Morbius cringed less than some Marvel or DC superheroes like Fantastic Four of 2015 which made only 24 million for its launch, or more recently Birds of Prey (33 million), The Suicide Squad (26 million) and The New Mutants and its 7 million, although the pandemic context has contributed to these missed appointments.
But additional proof that the public did not catch on: as soon as sonic 2 landed the following week, Morbius collapsed while recording a 73% drop in audience which marked a new record for a blockbuster of the genre before X-Men: Dark Phoenix (-71.5%) and The Suicide Squad (-71.5%). To find an even bigger second week drop, you have to go straight back to the movie. Steel of 1997 which had suffered a loss of spectators of almost 78%.
Morbius, or how to reassess Suicide Squad on the rise
Even though Morbius has a lower budget than the average blockbuster – $75 million excluding marketing costs compared to $100 million for Venom or 200 million for No Way Home and dark phoenix -, the flop of the film was not amortized for all that. Throughout its theatrical run, the anti-hero only made $73 million from homewhich is less than Birds of Prey (84 million) and both Venom (213 million each), but more than The New Mutants (23 million), The Suicide Squad (55 million) or Fantastic 4 (56 million).
Just to remind the existence of this scene
The failure is even more convincing at the level of the world box office, the exploitation abroad having brought in only 90 million dollars (compared to 117 million for Birds of Prey186 million for dark phoenix or 111 million for The Suicide Squad). The film was not distributed on the Chinese market, thus ignoring a significant financial windfall (269 million dollars for Venom in China alone, 59 million for Dark Phoenix).
Therefore, the worldwide box office of Morbius is only $163 millionthat is, less than Birds of Prey (201 million), dark phoenix (250 million), Fantastic Four (167 million) and even The Suicide Squad (167 million also), while he had to pass the 225 million dollars to reach his point of profitability. Next to a Venom 2 at 506 million dollars despite the pandemic and the ban in China, as well as a first part at 856 million, the disappointment is immense for Sony.
Neither Matt Smith’s nor Jared Leto’s chest saved the movie
If we can always find worse results elsewhere (especially on the side of New Mutants), the flop of the X-Men spin-off (like that of dark phoenix) ultimately had little impact on the X-Men saga, anyway doomed to be rebooted to be fully integrated into the MCU. Both projects were somehow sacrificed and evacuated by Disney after the Fox takeover, without them being thought of as the starting point of a new franchise or as a major new offshoot of a rapidly expanding universe. Quite the opposite of Morbiuswhose origin story clearly left the door open to a largely compromised sequel.
Rather than indifference, the film above all aroused numerous mockeries on social networks, to the point where Sony – completely at the pick-up – believed that it was experiencing a real resurgence of interest and thata re-release in 1,037 theaters could save its box office – even though it is already available on VOD in the United States. Except that those who made fun of the film with great memes and GIFs on Twitter obviously did not go to theaters to re-inflict a 1h45 crap on themselves.
The final blow for Morbius
Fatally, according to Forbesthis return to the big screen has only paid off the paltry sum of 300,000 dollars, i.e. less than 300 dollars per room, Top Gun: Maverick having monopolized 75% of national revenue over the weekend of re-emergence. An even more violent slap when No Way Home is about to hit theaters again. In addition to nipping a potential franchise in the bud, the failure of Morbius is also a severe blow to the universe that rests only on Venom’s antics and the hope that Spider-Man will one day join the Spider-Verse.
The shoddy film further supports the idea that Sony’s Marvel movies are just by-products of the MCU, which rely on unpopular and identified characters. The next, Kraven the Hunter and Madame Webwill therefore crawl on a thread to get to the cinema and will be decisive as to the future of this universe which is already threatening to collapse in on itself because of a single film.
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Morbius: Jared Leto’s Vampire Is A Shame For Marvel And A Disaster For Sony