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The Internet Is Obsessed With ‘Madame Web.’ The Box Office? Well …

Ricky Valero walked into a mostly empty showing of “Madame Web” with a bucket of popcorn and an open mind.

He had some idea of what he was getting into. The movie, which stars Dakota Johnson as a clairvoyant character from the Spider-Man comics, has been gleefully panned in the week since its release.

The reviews were lousy, with critics calling the movie “a genuine Chernobyl-level disaster” that is “full of bad dialogue delivered badly.” The box office numbers were somehow worse, landing “Madame Web” among the lowest ticket sales ever for a superhero movie.

The movie has been jeered on social media, where Mr. Valero, 37, had been seeing negative posts about it for weeks. But when he attended a showing on Thursday at a theater in Nashville, he was pleasantly surprised.

“There’s a level of terrible that can be enjoyable,” he said, adding that he would rate the movie three out of five stars despite some cheesy dialogue. When he voiced mild appreciation for the movie on X, the responses were so vicious that he ended up muting them.

“You feel like you’re standing alone on an island,” he said.

Sony’s latest addition to the Spider-Man franchise has been inspiring memes for months. But after a dismal first week in theaters, it has come to occupy an odd perch in popular culture: It’s dominating online conversation, but not drawing all that many viewers to theaters.

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