Is there anything better than watching a major corporation trying to make money off of an internet meme and failing badly? Viral moments are often the product of real enthusiasm on social media, and they are damn near impossible to replicate on purpose. So, with that in mind, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that Sony tried and utterly failed to capitalize on the meme-ified “Morbius” with a disastrous re-release this weekend.
After the terrible box office run of “Morbius” earlier this year, combined with the abysmal critical reception, Sony should have just buried the Jared Leto-starring superhero film in a deep, dark hole and forgotten all about it, hoping that maybe “Kraven the Hunter” can turn things around. Instead, the studio saw the “Morbin’ Time” memes pop up, making fun of the ridiculousness of the “Morbius” premise (and superhero films, in general), and decided there was a demand to create a sort of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” so-bad-it’s-good phenomenon with the film by re-releasing it in theaters over the weekend. Well, that didn’t go as planned, as “Morbius” reportedly only pulled in $300,000 over the three-day frame. Ouch.
Honestly, Sony should have known this was a bad idea from the beginning. Not only is a meme just a meme and not some sort of barometer for pent-up demand, but Jared Leto had already effectively killed it by trying to be “in” on the joke just before the re-release. On Friday, the day “Morbius was sent back to theaters, Jared Leto released a short video on social media of him reading a fake script for “Morbius 2: It’s Morbin’ Time.” Har Har Har. So funny, amirite? Well, it was almost instantly that the “Morbin’ Time” meme was killed, as it was no longer funny to poke at a film when Jared Leto tried to co-opt it for himself.
Not only that, but “It’s Morbin’ Time” is not even a line uttered in the film. It’s a fake line that was jokingly created to show how silly superheroes can be. So, why would someone pay money to see a terrible film that takes itself way too seriously when the funniest thing about it isn’t even a line in the movie? If Sony wanted to actually make a meme-able moment, the studio could have taken a cue from one of the videos that have been shared all over social media and actually dubbed the fake line in the film. But instead, the studio just tried to convince people to shell out money to see a bad movie again.
Hopefully, this is the first and last time a studio tries to co-opt a meme and make money off of it. But let’s be real, that’s highly unlikely.