Morbius Made $5.7 Million In Thursday Previews

Originally slated for release in July of 2020, but delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel Espinosa's film "Morbius" was finally released in theaters today. Sony's "Morbius" is the latest film in what was formally named the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, or SPUMC, but is now called Sony's Spider-Man Universe. In "Morbius," Jared Leto plays the title character, a doctor who blends his own DNA with that of a vampire bat in order to cure a rare unnamed blood disease, but who ends up transforming himself into a vampire by mistake. The character originated in Spider-Man comics in the 1970s, and the "Morbius" feature film occupies the same continuity as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thanks to some tricky contractual deals between Disney and Sony.

According to Forbes, "Morbius" has already earned $5.7 million in Thursday night previews, keeping it on track to attain the previously-predicted $40 million opening weekend. To relay some of the math from Forbes (calculated by Scott Mendelson), "Morbius" may track similarly to Sony's other Spider-Man villain solo film, "Venom: Let there Be Carnage," which opened to a $90 million weekend after $11.6 million Thursday. This would mean a $45 million opening. 

The bad reviews

"Morbius'" numbers are being made in the face of some very bad reviews. As of this writing, "Morbius" has achieved a mere 16% approval rating, compared to the relatively positive 58% of "Let There Be Carnage." This may translate to bad word-of-mouth and could keep audiences away. But that is mere speculation. Additionally, Jared Leto's performance of the title character is not nearly as much fun as watching Tom Hardy bicker with his creature/boyfriend, who happens to be a black alien tentacle living inside his body. "Morbius" is simply lacking a "weird" factor that can give a mainstream but relatively low-budget film like "Carnage" the legs it needs for an extended theatrical run. 

The reported budget for "Morbius" is a "mere" $75 million, which is minuscule compared to other tentpoles from the genre. Despite the bad reviews and the generally crummy quality of the film, "Morbius" may be a test to see how resilient the Spider-Man associations are in spite of quality. The unending runaway success of the MCU has led to continued enthusiasm for more than a decade, and most of the films released under its auspices tend to be hits. 

Although that is not always the case. Time will tell if "Morbius" is the next "Venom," or will be remembered as well as "Helstrom."