For those keeping track, Vudu has announced that Morbius has topped the VO
Sure, the $505 million gross of Venom: Let There Be Carnage (with no release in China) and the $854 million gross of Venom (including $269 million in China) was never in the cards, but the film’s lightning-fast drop (a miserable 1.87x weekend multiplier from a $39 million domestic debut) shows audiences didn’t like it any more than critics did. It’ll break even in the end thanks to post-theatrical revenue streams, but there’s a reason Tom Rothman didn’t announce a Morbius sequel at last month’s CinemaCon. Maybe Morbius can pop up in some future installment of the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters,” but that’s about it for the not-so-good doctor.
This isn’t Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which earned $197 million worldwide (including $128 million domestic) on a $75 million budget while earning decent reviews and solid consumer word-of-mouth. I’d argue there’s room to grow in terms of centering McKenna Grace, Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd in a new supernatural adventure that doesn’t turn into a remake of Ghostbusters. While a theoretical Uncharted 2 may suffer from the dreaded Tomb Raider Trap (when a superior sequel pays for the sins of its mediocre predecessor), when a $120 million non-sequel earns $400 million global, you roll the dice and make a sequel. I hope Sony realizes that Morbius is not a franchise begun but a bullet dodged (and that Venom may be a fluke).
The Bad Guys continues to show that Universal’s kid-targeted toons can concurrently thrive on PVOD and at the box office, while Ambulance will hopefully earn just enough in explicit post-theatrical revenue and implicit Peacock streaming viewership to make it “worth it.” The $40 million Michael Bay-directed actioner, one of Bay’s very best action movies, earned $51 million worldwide, or about half of what it would have needed to reach the “2.5x the budget” safety zone. However, Universal gets 80% of the money from VOD and related post-theatrical revenue, and any bump in Peacock viewership is going to be a modest win for the Yahya Abdul-Mateen II/Jake Gyllenhaal/Eiza Gonzales thriller.
Moreover, Ambulance will perform better on VOD/DVD and streaming because it had the marketing and awareness that comes with being a wide theatrical release. That doesn’t mean The Northman, which cost Regency and Focus $70 million and grossed around $70 million worldwide, is going to magically become profitable via PVOD and streaming ratings, but it’s a new variable to consider in this new world. And yes, titles like The Lost City are taking small theatrical drops even as they coexist on streaming and PVOD/EST platforms. Whether that’s because of viewer ignorance, a lack of theatrical releases or consumer preference I can only speculate.
Finally, Liam Neeson’s Memory arrived on PVOD just weeks after its theatrical release. While the Martin Campbell-directed actioner is better than any of Neeson’s thrillers since Cold Pursuit in early 2019 (or, if you count that one as a black comedy, The Commuter in early 2018), audiences have been burned by a slew of recent star vehicles (Honest Thief, The Marksman and Blacklight from Open Road and Briarcliff along with Netflix’s