Box Office: Jared Leto’s “Morbius” starts at #1 with $39 million

“Morbius,” the latest comic book adventure from Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, opened at number one at the domestic box office, despite ticket sales being significantly weaker than recent superhero blockbusters.

Overwhelmed by hilariously horrific reviews, “Morbius” raked in $39.1 million in its first weekend of release in 4,268 North American theaters. This initial tally is both a sign that audiences genuinely love comic book movies (in pandemic times, a non-superhero movie wouldn’t have a chance at the box office with a 17% hit on Rotten Tomatoes) and an indication that not every superman becomes a character on the big screen equally welcomed. (Sony’s 2018 anti-hero origin story Venom was similarly planned, but still made the domestic box office with $80 million at launch and $213 million overall).

“Morbius” grossed $44.9 million at the international box office, taking its total to $84 million.

Sony spent $75 million to produce Morbius, which is less than studios typically spend on superhero blockbusters. Marketing and other advertising costs added many millions to spending. Since Morbius the living vampire isn’t nearly as well known as Spider-Man, Batman, or even Venom – who was introduced to mainstream audiences in Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man 3” and later played by Tom Hardy in the standalone films – film industry analysts had had didn’t expect “Morbius” to break box office records.

Still, Sony has a lot to do with Morbius, which stars Jared Leto as Michael Morbius, a renowned biochemist who becomes a deadly vampire after trying to cure himself of a rare blood disorder. The studio notably scored with Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.88 billion at the global box office) and successfully turned Venom into cinematic gold (the 2021 sequel Let There Be Carnage grossed $501 million US dollars at the worldwide box office). But Sony is making bigger attempts to create a viable rival for Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a so-so turnout for Morbius signals that these films need to be actually watchable to entice audiences to go to theaters. Following Morbius, Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters chugs along with standalone stories through Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kraven the Hunter and Dakota Johnson’s Madame Web.

There’s more to come… Box Office: Jared Leto’s “Morbius” starts at #1 with $39 million

Charles Jones

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