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‘Morbius’ Box Office Feels the Bite of Terrible Reviews and a C+ Cinemascore

Not every Sony film exceeds expectations. "Morbius" opened well for its $75 million budget, but below hopes that it would propel a strong April.

Jared Leto in Morbius

“Morbius”

Sony

The first weekend of April was a dud. There was reason to hope it would launch a comeback month with multiple breakout openers, but “Morbius” (Sony) failed to live up to expectations and with a must-see North Carolina/Duke basketball game competing for attention Saturday night, the box office struggled.

“Morbius” is the third entry in the Sony Pictures Universe of Movie Characters (also known as the terrible acronym SPUMC, for future reference). After its SPUMC predecessors “Venom” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Morbius” is a disappointment only compared to its potential. At $39 million, it grossed just under $10 million more than “The Lost City” (Paramount), which had a similar $75 million production budget.

So why does the Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum adventure/comedy get credit for a decent opening and “Morbius” doesn’t?  It’s all in the Marvel factor, combined with Sony’s recent string of hits (“Spider-Man: No Way Home” as well as “Carnage” and “Uncharted”). All these opened much better than expected, then held well.

As a Marvel offshoot and with recent Sony precedent, the not-unreasonable hope for “Morbius was a $50 million opening or better. So what happened?

Originally set for release in July 2020, fans have been waiting a long time. They embraced the first trailer when it appeared last November. But terrible reviews (a dreadful 36 score on Metacritic; “Carnage” was a mediocre 49) paralleled a equally bad audience response with a C+ Cinemascore, the second lowest for any Marvel character film — even “Howard the Duck” did better!

A $5.7 million Thursday preview gross projected to at least $45 million for the weekend, possibly more, but word of mouth is faster than the box office. On Saturday night, all films ran into one of the must-see sporting events of the year with the NCAA basketball semi-final.

The biggest disappointment is the lost opportunity to boost theaters, which are still underperforming by any reasonable standards. The $100 million weekend remains elusive; the box office total was $83 million, or 55 percent of the same dates in 2019. And with our four-week rolling comparison losing the “The Batman” opening weekend, it drops to 54 percent compared to three years ago.

The rest of the month holds promise with “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (Paramount) next week and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (Warner Bros.) the following, but theaters can ill afford ongoing shortfalls.

Holdovers generally dropped more than in recent weeks. “The Lost City” dropped 51 percent to take second, “The Batman” was down 47 percent.

"RRR"

“RRR”

DVV Entertainment

Indian epic “RRR” (Sarigama), a surprise #3 last weekend, lost most of its heft (-83 percent) but still managed to place #6 with under $2 million. That wouldn’t make the top 10 three years ago. The third weekend of anime “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” (Crunchyroll) held better, down 58 percent, with an impressive $31 million total.

A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” in only 38 theaters, came in #10 with about $1 million and a per-theater average over $26,000. The acclaimed Michelle Yeoh-starring fantasy adventure continues to impress as it attracts younger-than-usual viewers for a specialized film. Its bigger test comes this week when it goes wide.

New and falling outside the top 10 were “The Contractor” (Paramount) and “You Won’t Be Alone” (Focus). The Paramount title starring Chris Pine as an ex-military mercenary was #12 with about $550,000 in 489 theaters, though it went unreported. It is also on PVOD.

“Alone” is a subtitled Macedonian horror film with outstanding reviews that managed $125,000 in 147 theaters. Focus just announced its acquisition of director Goran Stolevski’s second film, “Of An Age.”

Other new limited specialized releases from top distributors incuding “Nitram” (IFC, also on VOD), “Gagarine” (Cohen)  and new dates for “Memoria” (Neon) went unreported. Sources indicate only “Memoria” with five new dates showed much life.

CODA, Emilia Jones, 2021. © Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

“CODA”

©Apple TV/Courtesy Everett Collection

“CODA” (Apple) expanded to a much larger number of theaters than its barely visible run last August, but it again went unreported. Spot-checking sales at some individual theaters (reportedly between 500-600) suggested far under $1,000 on average.

The Top 10

1. Morbius (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 36; Est. budget: $75 million

$39,100,000 in 4,268 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $9,161; Cumulative: $39,100,000

2. The Lost City (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$14,800,000 (-51%) in 4,253 (no change) theaters; PTA: $3,456; Cumulative: $54,581,000

3. The Batman (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #2

$10,800,000 (-47%) in 3,732 (-235) theaters; PTA: $2,894; Cumulative: $349,000,000

4. Uncharted (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #4

$3,605,000 (-28%) in 3,064 (-352) theaters; PTA: $1,177; Cumulative: $138,913,000

5. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (Crunchyroll) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$1,945,000 (68%) in 2,070 (-401) theaters; PTA: $940; Cumulative: $31,420,000

6. RRR (Sarigama) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$1,600,000 (-83%) in 1,200 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,850; Cumulative: $12,558,000

7. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) Week 16; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$1,400,000 (-30%) in 1,705 (-298) theaters; PTA: $821; Cumulative: $802,704,000

8. Dog (United Artists) Week 7; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,319,000 (-38%) in 2,053 (-786) theaters; PTA: $642; Cumulative: $60,138,000

9. X (A24) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$1,022,000 (-53%) in 1,799 (-1,121) theaters; PTA: $568; Cumulative: $10,393,000

10. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #13

$1,012,000 (+102%) in 38 (+28) theaters; PTA: $26,631 ; Cumulative: $1,759,060

 

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases 

You Won’t Be Alone (Focus) NEW – Metacritic: 79; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$125,000 in 147 theaters; PTA: $850

The Rose Maker (Music Box) NEW

$7,714 in 6 theaters; PTA: $1,286

Infinite Storm (Bleecker Street) Week 2

$278,478 in 1,509 (-6) theaters; PTA: $185; Cumulative: $1,386,000

Mothering Sunday (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$14,736 in 19  (+14) theaters; PTA: $776; Cumulative: $30,375

The Outfit (Focus) Week 3

$140,000 in 416 (-912) theaters;  Cumulative: $3,186,000

Alice (Roadside Attractions) Week 3   119

$19,610 in 38 (-81) theaters; Cumulative: $364,540

Ahed’s Knee (Kino Lorber) Week 3

$13,000 in 18 (+17) theaters; Cumulative: $45,926

The Automat (Slice of Pie) –  Week 7   8

$20,050 in 20 (+12) theaters; Cumulative: $125,834

The Worst Person in the World (Neon) – Week 9; also on PVOD

$41,000 in 76 (-140) theaters; Cumulative: $3,007,000

 

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