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‘Morbius’ Memes Mangle Mission to Motivate More Money from Moviegoers

It's never Morbin' time in the movie theaters.

Jared Leto plays ball in 'Morbius'

Sony’s latest comic book movie Morbius was a critical and commercial flop for the studio, earning a 17 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a paltry $163 million at the box office (which is very low for superhero fare). The film’s only success came online, in the form of memes making fun of the film. Everyone was eager to get in on Morbin’ Time, Jared Leto jokes, and even corporate accounts like KFC were having fun with the viral memes. In fact, the memes were so successful that Sony began thinking about not only a Morbius sequel (please God no) but they re-released the film in 1,037 theaters to capitalize off of its online popularity.

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And it went about as well as you’d expect. Apparently, the popularity of memes trashing the film doesn’t translate into box office receipts, which is surprising to literally no one. The Morbius re-release earned a paltry $85,000 on Friday, achieving a rare double-bomb from one movie. So much for those Morbius 2 talks. It’s a bewildering decision in a film jampacked with confounding choices. Did the executives at Sony really think these memes would be enough to drag people to the theaters, especially after a SVOD release? And do they not realize that, while a movie ticket is $15-20, mocking Jared Leto on Twitter is free and eminently more satisfying?

But what if the gambit had worked? Would we see Cats return to theaters with the butthole cut? Would Dear Evan Hansen get midnight sing-a-long screenings? Would The Adventures of Pluto Nash get a 3D upgrade? Thankfully, these are questions we will never have to answer. The Morbius re-flop is a reminder that studios can’t elbow their way into cult classic or so-bad-it’s-good status. That’s entirely up to a combination of fandom whims and the passage of time.

Thanks to the ever-cyclical nature of the internet, the re-bombing of Morbius inspired plenty of jokes of its own. Maybe Morbin’ Time was the friends we made along the way.

(featured image: Sony)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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