Netflix reportedly turned down an opportunity to purchase Holmes & Watson from Sony after the studio became dismayed by the film's low test scores. This holiday season is typically jam-packed with several films, and there's something for everyone - be it awards bait (Vice), superhero blockbusters (Aquaman) or family musicals (Mary Poppins Returns). Comedy fans thought they had a Christmas treat when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reunited for Holmes & Watson, billed as a humorous spin on the famous Sherlock Holmes mythos. Marketing played up the duo's shared history (Talladega Nights and Step Brothers), banking on nostalgia.
Unfortunately, Holmes & Watson is an unmitigated disaster. Critics absolutely panned the film, and at one point it had the ignominious distinction of the rare 0% Rotten Tomatoes score (as of this writing, it's now all the way up to 4% thanks to one positive review). Given how things turned out, it's worth wondering why Sony decided to make this one of their premier December releases, going up against high-profile competition. Turns out, the studio might have buried Holmes and Watson to its ultimate fate and just took the loss.
According to Deadline, Sony tried to give the movie to Netflix when it became clear that people were not exactly fans of it. Netflix, obviously, declined the offer for reasons that are not elaborated upon. Holmes & Watson opened on Christmas Day and grossed $6.4 million at the domestic box office, but it was struck by an awful D+ audience rating and most likely won't have legs, considering everything else that's currently playing.
While Netflix's original programming has some of the most popular TV shows of its era (Stranger Things) and Oscar-contending films (Roma), the streaming service's subscribers know their content can be wide-ranging in quality. Netflix is currently in business with Adam Sandler, and it's been quite a while since his material was well-received. And for every Roma or Ballad of Buster Scruggs that earns positive reviews, the likes of Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox sully the branding of "A Netflix Film." It'll be interesting to see if more information about the Holmes & Watson situation comes to light. Perhaps the negative test scores killed any interest Netflix might have had. Regardless, this development is pretty surprising.
All Sony executives can do now is cross their fingers and hope Holmes & Watson grosses enough at the box office to turn a profit. Its production budget is $42 million, meaning it'll need to make approximately $84 million worldwide just to break even. That sounds like a tall order, especially since comedy doesn't always translate well overseas. Right now, the film is at $10 million globally (with openings in several markets still to come), so it still has a long way to go.
- Holmes and Watson (2018) release date: Dec 25, 2018