How ‘Morbius’ Will Test Sony’s Box Office Hot Streak

Delayed by COVID, Sony’s latest Marvel antihero film must overcome weaker word of mouth than the studio’s recent hits

Since “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” hit theaters last fall, Sony Pictures has been on a white-hot streak at the box office punctuated by the record success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Now it’s up to the studio’s long delayed Marvel film “Morbius” to continue that streak.

“Morbius” stars Jared Leto as a brilliant but sick doctor who uses a strange ritual to cure himself of a rare blood disease. But the cure also gives him supernatural strength and powers… as well as a bloodthirsty vampire alter ego.

“Morbius” is one of the dozens of films that were initially set for release in 2020 before being repeatedly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. That means, like blockbusters such as “No Time to Die” and “F9,” those delays have likely led to increased marketing costs on top of the film’s reported $75 million budget.

That raises the bar to clear for profitability for “Morbius,” which is projected for an opening in the $40 million range similar to the $44 million start that Sony’s last blockbuster, “Uncharted,” earned in February. Sony is much more conservative with a $33 million studio projection, which would make it the lowest-ever opening for a Sony/Marvel film and on the same level as the ill-fated — but much more expensive — X-Men movie “Dark Phoenix” from 20th Century Fox in 2019.

But at that opening level, the comp for “Morbius” wouldn’t be “Dark Phoenix” but rather “Birds of Prey,” a Warner Bros./DC film that wasn’t a flop after its $33 million opening but didn’t live up to its DC pedigree with $201 million grossed worldwide against an $84.5 million budget. Sony will likely be aiming for a $350-$400 million global box office run similar to what “Uncharted” is putting up right now, but a performance similar to “Birds of Prey” may be more likely if the film cannot stand out against upcoming competition like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “Ambulance” — both of which come out next weekend.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster