The star-studded Holmes and Watson — led by popular actors Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly — just opened to dismal reviews from both critics and audiences. The comedy has a D+ CinemaScore from polled moviegoers. It has a 12 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is actually an improvement from its initial zero percent, with an Audience Score of 27 percent.
According to Deadline, studio Sony pretty much saw this coming. Test scores for Holmes and Watson were so awful, Sony had tried to unload the movie to Netflix, but Netflix wouldn’t buy it.
The Wrap film critic Alonso Duralde echoed that sentiment, twisting the knife a bit by adding a comparison to a film Netflix did buy:
Oof. The Cloverfield Paradox was a surprise last-minute addition to Netflix. It also got pretty bad reviews, but not quite Holmes and Watson bad. Not all Netflix films are stinkers, but the streamer has gotten a reputation as a dumping ground for films that studios want to unload to avoid a box office bust. But Mowgli wasn’t bad, and got mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Netflix even got to stream Roma, one of the best films of 2018, but only after the film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and had a limited theatrical run. Netflix also picked up Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box, which took off on social media and apparently set a new viewing record for the streamer.
It’s possible Netflix is raising its standards, to salvage its reputation as being great for original TV series and not-so-great for its films.
In a flip on this story, Crazy Rich Asians reportedly turned down a major offer from Netflix to distribute the film. The Hollywood Reporter said Netflix was “dangling complete artistic freedom, a greenlighted trilogy and huge, seven-figure-minimum paydays for each stakeholder, upfront.” But book writer Kevin Kwan said he and film director Jon M. Chu wanted the film to be an “old-fashioned cinematic experience, not for fans to sit in front of a TV and just press a button.”
Holmes and Watson was made off a production budget of $42 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It picked up $12.5 million from the first three days after its Christmas debut. It is likely to be lost in the shuffle of this pre-New Year’s weekend, following Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns, Bumblebee, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and more.
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly will walk away from this with their careers unscathed. This won’t define them. That said, they should try to make lemonade out of it by showing up to The Razzies if and when Holmes and Watson picks up some nominations.