“Morbius” was one of the most talked about movies of the summer among Internet dwellers, but not for the reason you might think. Now, “Morbius” is getting its third (yes, third) act when it debuts on Netflix for viewers in the US and India.
A new installment in the Marvel Comics Universe, “Morbius” was probably expected to make money at the box office. But as we learned from the disappointing and absurd “Fantastic Beasts” spin-offs of the “Harry Potter” series, it takes more than popular IP to make a good movie.
Upon its release, critics panned the film. Catey Sullivan of the Chicago Reader wrote: “If it were just a theme park ride, Morbius would be fun enough. But it’s not.” Esther Zuckerman of Thrillist wrote: “Not bad in the haha you have to see this is so ridiculous kind of way. It just feels underbaked.”
So “Morbius” became one of the funniest memes of the summer, but the butt of the joke was that no one was watching the movie. Potential moviegoers avoided his attendance in exchange for making up things that might have happened in “Morbius”, which no one could refute since no one had seen the film. If you’ve seen stray tweets making jokes about how cool it was when Jared Leto, playing Dr. Morbius, said, “it’s Morbin time,” now you’re in on the joke.
“Morbius” bombed twice in theaters, a rare but not surprising occurrence, as the Jared Leto-directed flick made everyone who actually saw it cringe. After six delays to its release date, “Morbius” made its debut on April 1, 2022, an April Fools’ joke that no one really wanted. The film had a budget of $75 million and earned $163 million worldwide and $74 million domestically. To make a decent profit, the movie had to make three times its budget. It’s possible Sony turned to the internet to boost its ego, likely mistaking memes for audience demand. Two months later, “Morbius” was subsequently “mem” back in theaters. The film was re-released in more than 1,000 theaters in the US and only made $85,000 in one day, just $270 per theater, Forbes reported.
For both new and legacy brands, going viral online is a windfall that can make or break a franchise. But “Morbius” went viral in a way that discouraged viewers from seeing the movie; it was more fun not seeing it while it was joked that the movie would sell 1 billion tickets.
Three months later, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” hit theaters, sparking another viral meme inspired by the film: the Gentleminions. Groups of teenagers dressed in formal attire to attend screenings of the children’s movie as if it were their prom. Some groups took the meme a little too far, throwing bananas at movie screens and generally giving everyone around them a hard time. But whether it’s because of the Gentleminions, or simply the fact that “Minions” is such a hugely popular franchise, “The Rise of Gru” broke records to become the biggest opening during the July 4th holiday weekend, winning $125 million nationwide in just four days.
Will the members of “Morbius” finally see the movie, now that they can stream it from the comfort of their home? Maybe. But as for the future of the meme’s channeling to the box office, we can’t wait to see how the fate of “Don’t Worry Darling” plays out.