Morbius finds itself in an odd situation of having done well enough not to be an outright failure, but still not well enough to be a success. Elsewhere, films have higher drops than usual as the market shifts in anticipation of a new wave of films.
Weekend Box Office Top 10 (Apr 1st-3rd) / 3-Day Weekend Gross / Percent Change from Last Week / Weekend # / Distributor), Weekend Estimates:
- Morbius / $39.1 million / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Sony (Columbia)
- The Lost City / $14.8 million / -51% / Weekend 2 / Paramount Pictures
- The Batman / $10.8 million / -47% / Weekend 5 / Warner Bros.
- Uncharted / $3.6 million / -28% / Weekend 7 / Sony (Columbia)
- Jujutsu Kaisen 0 / $1.95 million / -57% / Weekend 3 / Funimation (Crunchyroll)
- RRR: Rise, Roar, Revolt / $1.63 million / -83% / Weekend 2 / Sarigama Cinemas
- Spider-Man: No Way Home / $1.4 million / -30% / Weekend 12 / Sony (Columbia)
- Dog / $1.32 million / -38% / Weekend 6 / United Artists (MGM)
- X / $1.02 million / -53%% / Weekend 3 / A24
- Everything, Everywhere, All At Once / $1.01 million / +102% / Weekend 2 / A24 ($26K per-theater in 38 theaters)
11. Sing 2 / $830K / -40% / Weekend 15 / Universal
12. The Contractor / $535K / (N/A) / Weekend 1/ Paramount Pictures
13. Infinite Storm / $278K / -63% / Weekend 2 / Bleecker Street Media
15. You Won’t Be Alone / $125K / (N/A) / Weekend 1 / Focus Features ($850 per-theater in 147 theaters)
In my last post, I stated that I didn’t have strong feelings or any real inclination to see Morbius. Being a fan of neither Jared Leto nor vampire films, my hope was that Morbius would, even if slightly, overperform so that I’d have something of interest to talk about with regard to its release this weekend. Well, my wish came true…..to a degree. Morbius did technically overperform, at least by Sony’s internal estimates (which were likely understated, as is a typical studio practice) but it fell just short of industry estimates at large; not short enough to not warrant merit, but short enough that I am not comfortable calling the film a success either. At least this will indeed be interesting….
Morbius, according to this weekend’s estimates, came in at around $39.1 million for its opening weekend haul. In my last post, I admittedly was not kind to the film (once again, I’ve no strong inclination to see it). Sony pictures had undershot industry projections, estimating a potential $33 million opening versus most pundits’ $40-50 million, but I personally hadn’t seen a lot of interest in the picture and promptly further undershot with my own projection of $30 million flat. To Morbius‘ credit, it overperformed against my expectation by quite a bit and, technically, came in more or less on par with industry estimates (on the lower end, but still not embarrassing). Worldwide, its total intake was $84 million.
So, why is there an issue when calling the film a “success”? Well, undeniably, the fact that the film saw a two-year delay in its theatrical release muddied the waters and made it much harder to pinpoint what “success” would look like here. Conventional wisdom would dictate that a release delay like this should make the film essentially dead on arrival, yet it still managed to make a “not embarrassing” showing that was relatively in line with industry projections. That said, Morbius unfortunately still falls short by comparison as its best comp in this regard is a much more successful film, Venom from 2018. Not only are their set-ups quite similar as two films centered around characters from the Spider-Man Rogue’s Gallery which each tell standalone stories without (for the most part) any inclusion of the wall-crawler himself, but the conditions surrounding their releases are also remarkably similar. In the lead up to their releases, actors who were considered to be relatively strong fits with their respective roles, Tom Hardy as Venom and Jared Leto as Morbius (he looks like a vampire already), were cast and most pundits sneered at the films, questioning just how they would function without Spider-Man or any other characters to bounce off of. Both were also not well received by critics in the lead up to their debuts, with Venom debuting with a Rotten Tomatoes score in the mid-20%s and Morbius receiving notably worse notices with a Rotten Tomatoes score of, as of now, 17%. However, it would seem upon the start of Thursday previews that each film’s reviews would not be preventing it from connecting to an audience as Venom roped in $10 million in preview grosses while Morbius pulled in a pretty surprising $5.7 million. One Friday morning later and each film was projected by pundits to overperform on opening weekend.
That, however, is where the stories of these two films diverge. Technically, Morbius would never be able to reach the heights of Venom, which managed to pull in 8x its Thursday night preview gross and debut with $80.25 million, one of the best October opening weekends of all time. Morbius, on the other hand, was a smaller film in every way. It has a smaller budget (a reported $75 million vs. Venom’s $90-110 million) and is based on a character with a much smaller fanbase. Still, had the film been performing like Venom, Morbius would undoubtedly have an opening gross with a “4” in front of it; most likely a $45 million opening if it had maintained the same multiplier from Thursday previews to full-weekend grosses that Venom had. So, if the two films were following so closely together, what happened? Personally, I find this to be a case where curiosity was both blessing and a curse. As mentioned prior, Morbius had a massive delay on its way to screens thanks to the pandemic with the film having been shot in 2019. As ill as the public sentiment was towards the film, for a variety of reasons (people not loving Jared Leto all that much, Morbius the “Living Vampire” being a strange character to adapt for a standalone feature, the film’s trailers making it look like a ’90s/2000s film, etc…), I would argue that the success of Venom definitely generated a glimmer of hope that Morbius would have some level of quality. No one on earth will argue that Venom is as good a movie as the best comic book superhero films, but it was quickly discovered in 2018 that, far from the dumpster fire that most critics had made the film out to be, Venom was actually a competently made, very fun, surprisingly funny film that benefited immensely from a go-for-broke dual performance from Tom Hardy as both Eddie Brock and the titular Venom. Smartly, Sony recognized the zany, over-the-top appeal of the film with audiences and made sure to double down on all the elements they loved for Venom: Let There Be Carnage in 2021, and the result was a movie that managed to open bigger than the original with $90 million and leg out really nicely in the midst of a pandemic. Combined with Sony riding high (and still riding) off the success of No Way Home, I feel that audiences at least had something of a “let’s give this the benefit of the doubt”-type attitude towards Morbius, which would explain the higher than expected previews and the $17.5 million opening day contributing to higher projections.
Of course, with high curiosity, there is always a chance for a letdown, and it would seem that’s exactly what happened to Morbius. Unlike Venom‘s surprise status as a “wait, that’s actually a lot of fun!” blockbuster, which created positive buzz, thereby generating more curiosity and driving more people to see it in theaters in a wonderful positive feedback loop, Morbius’ reception was deemed more “as bad as expected”. Bad might be relative here as there have been some critics who’ve come out in defense of the film, but the general consensus seems to be that even if it is not a complete trainwreck, it’s still nothing of merit. You can see that sentiment reflected even in the day-to-day changes in this weekend’s grosses, with Morbius dropping -24% dorm Friday to Saturday, and a further -35% from Saturday to Sunday as opposed to Venom’s -19% drops across both days. Now, this doesn’t completely sink the film. It still technically came in around what pundits had projected (so it didn’t necessarily underperform), and an $84 million worldwide opening is not a bad start for a movie that costs just about $75 million. Still, given that we can already numerically see that word-of-mouth isn’t all that great, the likelihood of Morbius legging out is limited. At best, it seems like just breaking even is in the film’s future, but we’ll just have to see about next weekend to get a better picture of how it’s holding up. Still, kudos to the Morbius cast and crew for at least putting up a fight (it gives us something to talk about).
In second place, we find The Lost City, which slightly disappointed in its second frame. Disappointment might be a bit too strong for the film as it’s still doing solid business, but I have to admit that I was hoping for a bit better. In the best-case scenario, The Lost City would be performing more akin to The Proposal than anything else, especially as it was originally designed as a reunion film for those two stars. Alas, the performance here is much more akin to that of Ocean’s 8 with The Lost City dropping -51% in its second weekend for a gross of $14.8 million in second place. Now, let me be crystal clear. No, the movie is not starting to fail. I worry that might dower tone might suggest such but I want to be clear that this is not the case. In fact, Ocean’s 8, which continues to be a delightfully fun movie by the way (I caught it on TNT not to long ago), is not at all a terrible film to be compared to as it opened well backing 2018 and managed to leg out nicely with a x3.37 multiplier for a domestic gross of $140 million and nearly $300 million worldwide (over 4x its budget). If The Lost City were to leg out the same way, it would be guaranteed to clear $100 million domestic (becoming the first non-comic book/existing property-based film to do so since the pandemic started) and likely $200 million worldwide. As of yet, The Lost City is already a huge success in its own right as it has bested House of Gucci‘s domestic gross of $53 million (our previous best performing film not based on an existing IP) in just two weekends, having grossed $54.58 million to date, and will likely be topping Dog‘s $60 million domestic gross by next weekend. As of now, the film is the best performing female-led movie of the pandemic era and still firmly cements that Sandra is a true movie star with audience pull.
My only gripe here really comes out of my admittedly oversized expectations not being met. I’d personally thought, given The Lost City‘s positive notices and it being embraced by the public with open arms last weekend, that the film would hold closer to -45% (maybe even -40% if we were lucky), following that The Proposal road map and giving a little more hope to “just a movie”-type movies that aren’t based on an existing IP. To be fair, The Lost City still is a beacon of hope for those who want movies that aren’t comic book movies or remakes/reboots/sequels in the market. The truth is, however, that its promise only goes so far. The market has changed a lot since The Proposal and movies like The Lost City are at a disadvantage when trying to compete. Paramount should be applauded here as they have done a brilliant job of distributing and marketing this film and setting it up for success, I just wish that success were slightly bigger than that a drop of “just” -51%. Still, the game is not over yet, and The Lost City still has time to show its legs. We noted last weekend that its appeal skews towards older women and that should be a blessing going forward as the film continues to play through April. Next week is a much more boy-centric weekend, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 playing to younger, more videogame-savvy boys while Michael Bays Ambulance (which I actually am a bit interested in seeing, especially since the reviews are solid). is guaranteed to skew towards older men. That sets The Lost City up as the perfect counterprogramming title to reel in the ladies who are likely to get left behind (not exclusively, of course, I know girls love Sonic as well, but you know what I mean). Fantastic Beasts 3 may pose a challenge as that film will likely be more of a family/four-quadrant film, but by then The Lost City‘s audience should have stabilized enough to hold its own. We’ll see, but I’m still rooting for this one!
Coming in third place is The Batman, which had a solid hold of -47%, though I would argue that is still steeper than expected. It grossed $10.8 million this weekend, taking its domestic total to $349 million. Worldwide, the film celebrated passing the $700 million mark, though it is becoming harder and harder to imagine it getting to $800 million. It’s not impossible, but this all feels like further evidence that The Batman is slowing down more than expected. It’s still a good performer, and it still has runway, but I am getting more and more surprised that it’s not pushing into the box office heights one would normally expect it to. A best-case scenario domestic haul of $370 million is looking more and more likely which, assuming the film maintains a relative 50/50 domestic versus international gross split, would result in around a $740 million final worldwide tally. We have to keep waiting, but I grow more curious about this film by the day.
Fourth place belongs to the best hold in the top ten (technically the second best hold, but we’ll discuss that later), Uncharted with a great -28% drop for a gross of $3.6 million in its seventh weekend! That takes its domestic haul to $138.9 million and its worldwide gross to a strong $363 million. While I’d originally thought that Uncharted would be following the same path as Lara Croft Tomb Raider back in 2001 (sure enough they were actually running neck-and-neck until just two weekends ago), the Tom Holland/Mark Wahlberg adventure film has long surpassed the pioneering Angelina Jolie film and has now set its sights on greater videogame movie glory. As of now, it’s a mere $3 million away from catching up with Detective Pikachu‘s gross for the same point that film’s release cycle and will likely be overtaking it domestically by the end of its run. The real question is whether or not Uncharted can outrun Sonic the Hedgehog‘s $146 million gross and become the highest domestic earner amongst all videogame films. I think it just might do it!
Rounding out the top five is Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which saw another pretty staggering drop of -57%, though, still not bad for an anime film. Currently, it stands at $31.3 million which officially cements it in the number four spot among all-time anime domestic earners, surpassing Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Its time in theaters should be coming to an end soon, but Jujutsu Kaisen certainly made a great impression while it was here. Interestingly enough, as we leave the top five, we transition to another big deal foreign film, RRR: Rise, Roar, Revolt. The Teglu epic had a much bigger drop-off than I think anyone could have ever imagined with a staggering -83%! Even though I’d predicted it to have much stronger legs given the performances of the Baahubali films but I guess RRR truly was just a one-weekend-wonder. Still, its $12.3 million domestic total (as of yet) is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s within striking distance of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion‘s roughly $19 million total haul so S. S. Rajamouli hasn’t lost his touch. I eagerly look forward to his next film when it arrives in the States.
As for the rest of the top ten, usual suspects like No Way Home and Dog maintained their presence, though each fell a bit more than expected with No Way Home dropping -30% for a gross of $1.4 million in seventh place and Dog falling another -38% for a gross of $1.3 million in eighth. Both have nothing to worry about as No Way Home is, well, No Way Home, and as mentioned above, Dog has already grossed over $60 million domestically (and about $70 million worldwide on a $15 million budget, cha ching!), but their larger than usual drops speak to a transition as theaters prep for an upcoming onslaught of new features like the aforementioned Sonic 2, Ambulance, and Fantastic Beasts 3 as well as The Bad Guys, The Northman, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and of course, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Both flicks lost several hundred theaters this weekend and expect that to continue (particularly for Dog) as April rolls on.
Finishing off the top ten were, interestingly enough, two A24 flicks; both passing like ships in the night as one, X, winds down its theatrical release and the other, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, is just warming up. Coming in ninth place, X fell -53% for a gross of $1.02 million, taking is domestic total to $10.4 million and putting it on par with, more interestingly, A24’s own The Lighthouse. The two wildly different films each had little chance of matching the heights of Midsommar or Hereditary but X is still likely to find a solid audience in the ancillary market. The much impressive story here is that of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, which expanded from 10 to just 38 theaters in the US, yet amazingly managed to pull in $1.01 million this weekend and place tenth! That works out to a per-theater average of about $26K, which is on par with some blockbusters and suggests to me some real breakout potential for the Michelle Yeoh alternate dimension adventure movie. I have to temper my expectations, of course, as we won’t likely be seeing a Lost City level breakout when the film goes wide next weekend (in about 1,200 theaters), but perhaps (and that’s a big perhaps, but still…) we could be looking at an A24 film that could actually mirror the run of previous hits like Hereditary and Midsommar. The Hereditary comparison is likely a huge stretch as it debuted at $13.5 million its opening weekend, but Midsommar opened to just $6.56 million and managed to leg out to $27 million domestic. That’s not a ton, but for a film as wild as Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, that would be a really strong run, and I truly think that there is a chance that it could make it next weekend. Cross your fingers!
As for the rest of the box office, we must take a moment to salute Sing 2, which has officially bowed out of the top ten with grace as well as its biggest drop: -40%. It’s a bit surprising given that Sing 2 is still the only real kid-friendly movie option in town right now and it didn’t lose all that many theaters (it’s still in wide release with over 2,000). What is likely happening is the same thing as with No Way Home and Dog as theaters are shifting their resources to accommodate other films coming down the pipeline, and the audience or gearing up for new titles. I would bet money that a number of parents are opting not to take their children to the movies this weekend and instead save that ticket money for Sonic 2 next week. Still, Sing 2 had amazing legs and managed to make it $161.7 million domestic/$395.38 million worldwide, even whole concurrently available for online purchase. What a run, Congratulations to Universal and Illumination Entertainment!
Elsewhere in the specialty market, no other titles made any real impact. Unless some surprise grosses have yet to roll in, the Oscars managed to do nothing for any of the winning titles (CODA was re-released in theaters but no grosses were reported), understandably so as all anyone is talking about from that night is Will Smith’s slap and crumbling personal image. Paramount did debut The Contractor, a nifty action thriller starring Chris Pine that was originally on my radar given its status as a STX film. However, just as they did with the outrageous yet still fun Queenpins, STX sold the distribution rights to The Contractor to Paramount, who are handling the limited release and simultaneous PVOD release of the film this weekend, as the streaming rights to Paramount+ and Showtime. It’s a sad move, especially given that STX just had to file for bankruptcy protection on the film (as they did with the upcoming Greenland: Migration) to protect the rights from a seizure while they handle financing related issues from their impending acquisition by the Najafi Companies because there is a world where this movie could’ve made a little bit of splash in theaters. Instead, it’s relegated to a limited theatrical run which only grossed $535K this weekend. Similarly, Focus also debuted an original film, the arthouse title You Won’t Be Alone. Following a witch (played by Noomi Rapace) who steals the skin of a young villager girl to wear it and learn what it is like to be human, the film has been praised by critics as a unique take on a horror film, but this one what never likely to break out (it’s even spoken in an ancient Macedonia dialect, so the appeal is decidedly niche). It took in a pretty measly gross of $125K in 147 theaters (that’s a per-theater average of just $850), so expected it to pop up on streaming for rent, alongside The Contractor, in about two weeks.