Box Office: ‘Morbius’ Drives Stake Into No. 1 Spot With $38 Million Plus Projected Opening

Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

They say that a person should never invite a vampire into one’s house, but what about a vampire inviting a person into a movie theater? It seems that a modest amount of viewers are accepting that request, as Columbia Pictures’ “Morbius,” starring Jared Leto, is sinking its teeth into the domestic box office’s top spot with a projected opening weekend between $38 million and $41 million from 4,268 locations.

That’s a fairly moderate opening figure for a film adapted from Marvel comics. “Morbius,” the latest entry in the studio’s self-branded Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (which also includes Tom Hardy’s two “Venom” movies and the upcoming “Kraven the Hunter”), took in $17.1 million in its opening day at the domestic box office, a figure that includes a healthy $5.7 million in Thursday previews.

With a $75 million production budget, “Morbius” is a less imposing financial investment for Sony than the usual comic book action spectacle. However, the film was hindered by numerous theatrical release delays due to COVID-19, finding its way to April 2022 after initially being set for July 2020. That schedule shuffling likely led to numerous marketing reboots that made “Morbius” a bit more costly.

“Morbius” will have to put up some decent holds in order to secure itself as a financial win for Sony. The Marvel film was utterly ravaged by critics, turning in a dismal 17% aggregate approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman called it “a movie in which it’s clear that no one ever sent the script back for a rewrite with the instructions, ‘Please add a script.’ As in: Add spice, add dialogue, add something so that the movie plays like more than a barely colored-in diagram.” What’s more, the film earned a Cinema Score rating of “C+,” indicating that “Morbius” didn’t leave much of an impression on general audiences.

Also inauspicious for “Morbius” is the calendar month ahead, which will see a fair amount of competition emerge at multiplexes, including Universal’s retro-action spectacle “Ambulance,” Paramount’s speedy sequel “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” spin-off “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” “Morbius” will have to continue drawing viewers as new franchise plays entice audiences.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, “Morbius” stars Jared Leto as the titular Dr. Michael Morbius, a genius whose rare blood disease leads him to transform himself into a vampire. The cast also includes Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, Matt Smith, Jared Harris and Michael Keaton.

Paramount’s “The Lost City” should take the runner-up slot in its second weekend. The rom-com is projected to earn $14.6 million this weekend, marking a 52% fall from its opening frames and bringing its total domestic cume to $54.3 million. With a production budget of $68 million, Paramount would probably be happier with a larger gross by now for the Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum two-hander. Even so, “The Lost City” is performing extremely well for a romantic comedy, a genre that has all but disappeared from the box office in recent years.

Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” looks to take bronze, with a healthy 45% drop projected for the weekend. The DC adaptation took in another $3.1 million on Friday, expanding its domestic cume to $341.3 million. Bolstered by a massive opening weekend and strong word-of-mouth, the Robert Pattinson vehicle still stands as the highest grossing release of 2022. A finish above $400 million domestic could be in the cards.

Columbia Pictures’ “Uncharted” will likely take fourth. The Tom Holland-starring video game adaptation continues to show a fairly exceptional staying power at the box office. “Uncharted” hasn’t suffered a week-to-week drop higher than 37% in the past month, a trend that should continue with this weekend’s projected 26% drop. The action movie should expand its domestic gross to $139 million through Sunday.

Finally, the anime adaptation “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” should round out the domestic box office’s top five with a projected $1.95 million gross. The Crunchyroll release has now made more than $30 million in North America, demonstrating the dedicated stateside audience that anime has accrued for itself over the past few years.