Has an abysmal box office launch for Sony’s Madame Web doomed hopes for a new franchise?

Connie Queline

Has an abysmal box office launch for Sony’s Madame Web doomed hopes for a new franchise?

Madame Web’s failure at the box office has likely doomed Sony’s plans to launch a franchise featuring characters from the ill-received film.

No amount of chest compressions can save Sony‘s Madame Web from being labeled a total failure with fans and at the box office. Sony’s latest Spider-Man-less Spider-Verse movie is dead on arrival after a $26.2M launch, and the studio’s plans to launch a franchise with Dakota Johnson’s Cassandra Webb at its center will undoubtedly get scrapped. Despite earning $170 million at the box office, Sony’s Morbius was a disaster. Memed to death and still a go-to for how not to make a comic book action film, Morbius should have been a lesson learned for a studio struggling to make people care about its superhero movies not featuring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Then there’s Madame Web, which makes Morbius look like Citizen Kane.

According to an insider veteran (via The Hollywood Reporter), “We’re not going to see another Madame Web movie for another decade-plus.” Adding, “It failed. Sony tried to make a movie that was a different type of superhero movie.”

Sony’s Madame Web introduces a trio of Spider-Women (sort of), played by Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, and Sydney Sweeney. If Madame Web managed to ensnare enough fans and dollars, the idea was to launch a franchise with Johnson’s character as a guide for her clutter of Spider-Women. That’s no longer going to happen.

“We are in transition when it comes to superhero movies,” notes the insider. “I don’t know how big that transition is or what the other side looks like. It may be fewer movies, but bigger brands. Sony is willing to take some risk but also wants home runs — that’s good. And if [Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man Universe title] Kraven is a gigantic hit, the narrative could be completely different. So it’s too early to know the outcome.”

The problem with Madame Web isn’t the cast or how it’s aimed at female audiences. The problem is everything else. Morbid curiosity won out for me this weekend, and I subjected myself to Madame Web on Sunday. I went into the experience knowing it was ill-received but still hoped for the best, as I always do. I love superheroes, and I love superhero movies. If anyone’s going to find a silver lining in Madame Web, it’s me. Do you know what I found? Madame Web is an eventless slog that squanders the talents of several outstanding actors. The film’s list of failures is vast, from questionable direction to baffling edits, long stretches of cringe dialogue, and a one-dimensional villain that I would say is the worst in Marvel film history. It’s the first movie in ages I considered walking out of.

Our Editor-in-Chief, Chris Bumbray, was more even-handed about Madame Web than I am. You can read his full review here.

Madame Web could achieve cult status as an MST3K-style watch in the future. I’ll give it that much. However, I sincerely doubt that was Sony’s goal. If Sony wants people to show up for Kraven the Hunter, another risk at the box office, they might want to pivot their approach sooner rather than later.

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He’s also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You’ll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.

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