Morbius is a movie produced by Sony that stars Jared Leto and was originally released in April. Morbius had a lot of hype, and some industry experts were projecting a “DUNESWEEP,” as they believed it had the potential to sweep the Oscars. As with any big movie release, there were critic screenings, advertisements, and new websites to build momentum for the movie.
Unfortunately for Sony, Morbius did not sweep the Oscars and was largely deemed a flop at the box office. The movie was commercially unsuccessful, only generating $73m domestically and receiving many negative reviews. Usually, bad movies are relegated to Netflix and other streaming platforms, where we can passively watch while scrolling through our phones. You watch this movie during a flight where you literally have nothing else to do. Morbius was destined for this future until a Redditor, Supercalumrex, posted “the cultural reset,” an edited image of the Rotten Tomatoes review score.
Their satirical post went viral, receiving over 4,500 upvotes — I am not going to lie, I am super jealous, as going viral on Reddit for a meme is one of my goals. Supercalumrex’s post went viral, with #MorbiusSweep and Morbius memes popping up everywhere and becoming a “One Trillion Tickets” favorite.
The memes did not stop after release, as Morbius became a constant joke on social media. Any tweet containing Morbius attracted a cult following of likes, retweets, and comments — and, to Sony, it was a marketing dream. Their much-criticized movie could not have been so bad or poor performing since it fans had so much admiration and success. Maybe Morbius was beyond its time, as the virality and social media “insights” was too much to ignore, and Sony decided to re-release Morbius in theaters.
Morbius was redistributed to more than 1,000 theaters last weekend. Instead of the commercial success emulating the online enthusiasm, Morbius bombed again, generating only $280,000 in sales during the weekend. Morbius achieved the rare distinction of bombing twice, and all of this could have been avoided if someone on the Sony team had chosen to dig deep into data to see if memes were a signal of demand.
Morbius provides a cautionary tale of taking data and insights at face value, as analysis and synthesizing data are always required. Sorting the difference between real and fake intention is challenging and tedious. Traditional methods of manually checking are not scalable but necessary for cleansing data and preventing skewed analytics. The results of a skewed dataset can be devasting to a business, like Sony, who misunderstood a joke as demand for re-releasing Morbius.
So, to add more to the punchline, Sony ended up slipping on the banana of bad data. What does this mean for Sony? Not only did they flop twice, which hasn’t happened in the history of bad movies, but they are increasing their losses. Morbius was an expensive production and the second release with all the associated expenses added to their net loss. Translating trolls and meme posts into re-release a movie is not exactly our niche; however, our core philosophy centers around knowing who and how things will impact your data.
Ps. Sony, if you need help with your next movie release or the rumored re-re-release of Morbius, we can help you use accurate data to make your decision.