Netflix hasn’t minded picking up theatrical releases that other studios thought wouldn’t perform. Earlier this year, they made a big showing of releasing The Cloverfield Paradox right after the Super Bowl. They also took the international rights for Annihilation, and then they picked up Mowgli from Warner Bros. But apparently Netflix isn’t just a place to dump movies that make studios execs nervous.
According to Deadline, Sony Pictures tried to unload Holmes & Watson, the new Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy where they play Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, respectively, to Netflix. The test scores for the movie were so bad that Sony felt they had a flop on their hands, but Netflix decided they didn’t want it even though Netflix keeps all their viewership data a secret. It’s possible that the price was too high (the film cost $42 million to make), but it’s kind of damning that Netflix, which bought trash like The Cloverfield Paradox, thought that a Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy was too bad to be worth buying.
The box office has borne out Sony’s fears and Netflix’s wisdom. The film limped to $6.4 million on Christmas and had a horrendous D+ CinemaScore. While Ferrell and Reilly have shown themselves to be a formidable comic duo with Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers, both of those films came from Adam McKay. By comparison, Holmes & Watson was from Etan Cohen, whose past credits include Get Hard and Men in Black 3.
Personally, I’m still kind of curious about Holmes & Watson even though I’ve heard it’s pretty abysmal. But it would be interesting to see how a Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy functions when the jokes don’t land. However, I wouldn’t pay millions of dollars to find out the answer, and apparently, neither would Netflix.