Although it continues to shore up its critical reputation with the occasional high-profile prestige picture like Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Netflix’s voracious hunger for new content means it inevitably serves up a lot of bombs when it comes to its “original” films. That’s not helped by the streaming service’s willingness to help bigger studios unload movies they’re unsure will get a warm welcome in theaters, picking up projects like Paramount’s The Cloverfield Paradox and the international release of Alex Garland’s Annihilation on the cheap.
Still, there are limits: Per a tweet from The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde—and rumors reported on earlier this week by Deadline—Sony apparently came knocking on the company’s door not too long ago, asking if they’d be interested in a bargain price on a new Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
But as it turns out, we can now add “so bad, not even Netflix wanted it” to Holmes & Watson’s list of denigrations; although the Etan Cohen-directed parody recently escaped from its “0 percent Rotten Tomatoes” prison thanks to the kind hearts of 2 (out of 42) critics, its early testing scores were apparently so negative that the streaming service balked at making it a Netflix original, thus placing it on a level somewhere below such cinematic luminaries as The Ridiculous 6, Mute, and Bright.
In the end, Sony went with a different option, which, annoyingly, appears to have sort of worked: The company opted not to let critics see the movie before it debuted on Christmas, ensuring that there were plenty of film-hungry audiences happy to wander in and give the studio some cash in exchange for sitting in a dark room away from their families for a bit. Although the movie is still nowhere near making back its budget (reportedly $42 million), it still brought in a relatively respectable $12.5 million for itself in the last week, and is expected to do reasonably well over the weekend, possibly upgrading its status to “mere flop” from the “outright box office bomb” it likely deserves.