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The ‘Morbius’ Double Box Office Bomb May Be the Year’s Funniest Story

Ask for whom the bell Morbs, it Morbs for thee. Morbius, the $75 million vampire bomb starring Jared Leto as a Marvel c-lister is another one of Sony’s MCU-adjacent attempts to get their own superhero universe off the ground. And it may be the first ever Hollywood product to bomb twice. It’s not great news for Sony, where attempts at an independent superhero franchise just can’t quite gain traction. But it is very good news for enjoyers of high comedy.

First of all, the movie itself. Originally targeting a July 2020 release, the movie fell prey to COVID-19 delays that bumped it back first to March of 2021, then to October, then to January of 2022 and finally to April. Sony had hoped that the box office domination and good vibes of Spider-Man: No Way Home would carry Morbius aloft, since Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and Morbius kind of, maybe, sorta share the same multiverse depending on who you’re asking and what time of day you ask them.

The movie tanked with critics and failed to generate any serious box office buzz, but that’s where the story zigged instead of zagged. Like the living vampire that is this movie’s namesake, its cultural cache defied death and found a bizarre new life on social media. Thousands of tweets and TikToks turned Morbius into an ironic folk hero, praising the movie’s (not actually real) signature catchphrase “it’s morbin time” and celebrating its box office haul of “morbillions of dollars.”

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Like a lot of the best internet humor, the jokes weren’t strictly mean-spirited but nor were they entirely sincere. Instead, the joke was meta commentary on Hollywood and acted as a Schrodinger’s Cat for the viewer. If you sincerely responded about hating Morbius, social media pranksters would get on your case to defend “the movie event of the century.” If you sincerely praised it, you’d get staked through the heart with an avalanche of memes.

But the powers that be at Sony evidently failed to navigate the slippery nuances between earnestness and pranks. All Sony’s distribution office saw was that their movie continued to trend on social media platforms long after a lack of interest had pushed it out of the theaters. Apparently figuring that a legion of fans wanted more or maybe just deciding there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Sony re-released the movie into theaters in an attempt to see if online goofballery could translate into ticket sales.

No such luck. Morbius pulled in $300,000 in three days — a dismal $289 per theater.

A good reminder to Hollywood (and the rest of us) that the internet is not real life. But it is, often, very funny. Let us all learn a valuable lesson here about the dangers of morbing too close to the sun.

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