Weekend Box Office Forecast: Morbius

Photo Credits: Sony Pictures & Marvel ("Morbius")

Friday Update: Sony Pictures reported this morning that Morbius earned $5.7 million from Thursday’s domestic previews beginning at 4pm in 3,583 theaters.

That figure lines up with pre-release expectations outlined below, showcasing the drawing power of the comic book fan base in the face of 15 percent critics’ and 64 percent audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes as of Friday morning.

All eyes now turn to how word of mouth impacts the true portion of the weekend as the film becomes more reliant on general audiences and casual fans.

Against similar films, here’s how Morbius stacks up based on Thursday shows alone:

  • 40 percent behind Eternals ($9.5 million)
  • 51 percent behind Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($11.6 million)
  • 35 percent behind Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($8.8 million)
  • 39 percent ahead of The Suicide Squad ($4.1 million)
  • 42.5 percent ahead of Birds of Prey ($4.0 million)
  • 43 percent behind Venom ($10.0 million)

More updates to follow throughout the weekend.

Wednesday Report: Sony has been on a box office hot streak thanks to their delivery of theatrically exclusive, crowd-pleasing hits throughout the pandemic recovery. This weekend, as 2022 turns the page into its second quarter, the studio returns with Morbius.

Produced in association with Marvel, Morbius will transition another anti-hero character from comic books to the big screen. Still, this film is not yet officially confirmed to be part of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The tangential brand association remains a possible strength for the Jared Leto-led film, but as discussed previously, this origin story has had a challenging road to release.

Unfortunately, pre-release tracking hasn’t improved since the initial long range outlook. Morbius has yet to capture widespread mainstream interest in the way both Venom films did leading up to their debuts, and that portends a much more conservative box office result than is usually expected of Marvel-related films.

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The lack of any significant connection to the MCU (we’ll look past the brief inclusion of Michael Keaton in a recent trailer) makes this a horse of a different color. Fans and casual moviegoers are approaching it as more of a standalone comic book adaptation without the kind of snowballing, enthusiasm that’s typical of MCU films and their connective episodic tissue.

Even the Venom series itself saw a massive pick-up in interest close to release for both of its films, driving box office over-performances in both instances. Such a development has not yet occurred in Morbius‘ case as pre-sales have stalled at a slow pace for post-Thursday shows following an already muted launch.

The lack of growing momentum is made further cautionary by the film’s two-year exposure. A first teaser trailer arrived, to mixed reactions, two months before the pandemic shut down theaters in 2020.

Budgeted at $75 million before marketing and distribution, Sony doesn’t necessarily need this film to reach the stellar heights of prior Marvel-related pics for it to become a financial success, and global play will have the ultimate say as to whether or not Morbius warrants a direct sequel in the studio’s spin-off from the MCU with their own Spider-Man-related universe.

By comparison, Venom: Let There Be Carnage reported cost over $110 million to produce.

Across the universe of social metrics, sentiment, pre-sales, tracking, and trailer views, models indicate Morbius is lining up on a trajectory with the likes of Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad, and Uncharted rather than Venom or the recent MCU debuts of Shang-Chi and Eternals. It has also fallen behind tracking models for April 2019’s Shazam!, which Warner Bros. and DC sent to a $53.5 million domestic opening.

A review embargo is also in place until late Wednesday, just one day before preview shows begin, further exacerbating concern about a lack of confidence in how word of mouth may play out.

The Marvel association always presents an opportunity for strong walk-up business as the weekend hits, and audience reception could surprise with a stronger reaction than early screenings indicate, but the film’s darker tone and lack of an identifiable humor element (ala Venom) may unfortunately hold this origin back from the the upper and middle tiers of comic book movie launches.

Sony reported on Tuesday that they expect a domestic opening weekend around $33 million.

This weekend will also see the re-expansion of Apple Studios’ CODA fresh off its Best Picture win at the Academy Awards. Reports and internal projections suggest the film could reach 600 or more locations domestically this weekend.

Traditionally, this would probably be enough of a footprint to bring a prestige title into (or back into) the weekend top ten, but Apple has yet to provide box office reports for the film at any point during its distribution. As such, we’re not offering CODA forecasts at this time.

Meanwhile, Paramount will send The Contractor into limited release as part of its hybrid strategy for the Chris Pine-led thriller. The studio purchased the film from STX recently. Expectations are modest given its low profile and minimal marketing push in conjunction with at-home availability.

Last but not least, A24’s platform sensation Everything Everywhere All at Once will expand to a reported 38 locations this weekend, via studio confirmation. The film scored a stellar $510K debut from just 10 locations last weekend and is in the middle of a staggered nationwide rollout that will culminate with a wide release on April 8.

The film is a sleeper candidate to crack the top ten this weekend, but we’re not offering forecasts at this time since the studio has not been reporting daily box office updates and has yet to confirm how Wednesday’s IMAX shows will be included.

Weekend Forecast Ranges

Opening Weekend Range: $36 — 46 million

The Contractor
Opening Weekend Range: <$1 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Counts

Boxoffice projects between a 1 to 10 percent increase for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $78.5 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 3 Location Count Projection (as of Wednesday) % Change from Last Wknd
Morbius Sony Pictures / Columbia $40,200,000 $40,200,000 ~4,000 NEW
The Lost City Paramount Pictures $16,200,000 $55,900,000 ~4,253 -46%
The Batman Warner Bros. $11,500,000 $350,200,000 ~3,800 -44%
Uncharted Sony Pictures / Columbia $3,300,000 $138,700,000 ~3,200 -34%
RRR – Rise Roar Revolt Sarigama Cinemas $2,600,000 $13,800,000 ~1,000 -73%
Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie Funimation $2,100,000 $31,500,000 ~2,100 -54%
Dog United Artists Releasing $1,700,000 $60,600,000 ~2,300 -21%
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia & Marvel Studios $1,600,000 $803,000,000 ~1,700 -20%
X A24 $1,200,000 $10,600,000 ~2,100 -46%
Sing 2 Universal Pictures $1,100,000 $162,100,000 ~2,400 -20%

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Sony Pictures & Marvel ("Morbius")