its morbin time how social media pranked Sony

It’s Morbin’ Time – How Social Media Pranked Sony

Morbius is one of the latest superhero movies associated with Marvel released by Sony in April 2022. It is a movie about a vampire in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe after the two Venom movies. Morbius memes are rife on social media after the release of the movie. However, it seems to be popular not because it is good but because it is laughably bad. The faux popularity of Morbius convinced the guys at Sony to re-release the movie in June 2022 but it performed terribly. We will look at how social media managed to prank the media giant Sony.

The History Between Sony And Disney

What’s the difference between Morbius and other Marvel superhero movies like the Avengers? How did Morbius end up in the hands of Sony? We will need to look at who owns the rights to the Marvel characters. All the superheroes are pieces of intellectual property. Here is a table briefly showing who owns what for movie rights (outside movies it is a different ball game).

Sony Spider-Man + other characters in its universe like Venom, Carnage, Sinister Six
Fox (Now owned by Disney) X-Men

Fantastic Four

Universal Hulk
Disney Everything else like Avengers, GotG and the Eternals

In the 90s, Marvel was facing bankruptcy so it had to sell pieces of its intellectual property to keep itself afloat. Morbius is one of the intellectual property under the Spider-Man Universe sold to Sony.

Box Office Flop (Relatively)

Although not a total failure, Morbius performed relatively worse than the two superhero movies released near its opening weekend.

Morbius Doctor Strange – MoM Batman
Released April 2022 Released May 2022 Released March 2022
Production Budget: US$ 75m Production Budget: US$ 200m Production Budget: US$ 200m
Opening Weekend: US$ 39m Opening Weekend: US$ 187m Opening Weekend: US$ 134m
Domestic: US$ 74m Domestic: US$ 398m Domestic: US$ 369m
International: US$ 90m International: US$ 532m International: US$ 400m
Worldwide: US$ 163m Worldwide: US$ 930m Worldwide: US$ 770m

Source: The Numbers (14 June 2022) 

It received criticisms from critics, receiving only a 16% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s Morbin’ Time – Memes Galore

In comes the memes. It doesn’t help that it was released on 1st April 2022, April Fool’s Day. Here are some of the memes made for Morbius.

Of course, we can’t forget about the It’s Morbin’ Time meme. It is a play on the old-school hit, real-life superhero series where the actors say “It’s Morphin’ Time” and they transform into their superhero costumes. The movie is so bad that they won’t be surprised if such a quote is mentioned in the movie.

Even the lead actor, Jared Leto got on the meme train to get on the Morbin’ hype. It shows him holding the script of Morbius’ fictional sequel, Morbius 2: It’s Morbin’ Time

We don’t know if it is done for fun by himself or being used by the movie’s/his PR team as marketing and to test the water on the popularity of the Morbius intellectual property.

Bringing Back Morbius For A Second Run

The executives sniffed blood in the water and thought that Morbius has received “cult movie” status based on the memes made on social media. Based on the attention received online, Sony decided to bring back Morbius to the theatres for a second run.

Cult Movie Status

A movie can achieve a “cult movie” status when it is able to attract a hardcore following. One example is the first Spider-Man trilogy by Sam Raimi, starring Tobey Maguire. It even has a subreddit dedicated to sharing memes from the trilogy from the early 2000s.

It received its “cult movie” status because of all the meme-able moments in the movie and its endearing director.

Another movie that received a “cult movie” status is The Room directed, written, produced and starring the same guy, Tommy Wiseau.

The movie received its “cult movie” status because it is so bad that it is good. It has bizarre and unconventional storytelling with weird acting. The audience doesn’t actually enjoy the film. It’s like a car crash where you just can’t look away.

Perhaps the Sony executives looked at the memes and attention given to Morbius, they thought that the movie was able to gain the elusive “cult movie” status where its following watched the movie ironically.

Box Office Flops Again

This made them bring Morbius back into the theatres in June 2022 for a rerun in over 1,000 movie theatres. The first Friday it was brought back, it made US$85,000, an average of S$85 per theatre. And over the weekend, each theatre only made about US$200 on average. Each theatre can’t even fill one row of seats each day.

Oof.

The people at Sony didn’t realize that not all attention is good attention and paid dearly when the movie flopped TWICE even though they thought the internet loved it.

There is even a joke petition to bring Morbius back for a third run. The reason is that everyone was busy on the weekend of the second run.

Social Media As A Source Of Data

We have come to the main point of this post. Companies are looking at what is trending on social media to make business decisions. We are the products on social media, providing both traffic and content on the various platforms. Social media is not only a place for people to interact but it is also a massive advertising platform.

If done correctly, companies will be able to feel the pulse of the market and pick up trends early. However, as we can see in the case of Morbius, it still backfired even though it had so much attention. What Sony could have done would be to just build on the hype to get more attention on their other intellectual properties like Spider-Man and Venom instead of banking on Morbius, failing badly. This is all in hindsight and no one can guarantee anything.

TL, DR

Morbius flopped twice in the theatres. Many memes were made on social media, giving the facade that Morbius might become a “cult movie”. Companies are looking to social media to pick up trends to make business decisions. The Sony executives saw the attention of Mobius on social media trends and tried to take advantage of the trend but they failed badly.

Icons made by Freepik from Flaticon

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