7TH UPDATE, MONDAY: The takeaway from this weekend is that when a studio tries to reboot a beloved 32-year-old comedy franchise at a $144M production cost, the results shouldn’t be polarizing.

The final opening figure for Paul Feig’s female spin on Ghostbusters is $46 million, exactly where Sony saw it yesterday.

But as excited as Sony remains about that debut, particularly after weathering online attacks by haters, a majority of executives in town think it’s a lackluster result, particularly for a movie with a steep pricetag. A $50M-$60M start for the new Ghostbusters would have been fantastic, and something this low means a greater dependence on overseas ticket sales.

'Ghostbusters' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Jul 2016

Ghostbusters will fall 50%-55% this coming weekend ($20.7M-$23M), but many don’t think it will have the wildly high multiples that come with Feig and Melissa McCarthy vehicles. The final domestic projection lies between $120M-$130M, which, though more than Spy ($110M), is less than Bridesmaids ($169M) and The Heat ($159.6M).

Let’s face it, the word-of-mouth is out on Ghostbusters, and that’s what has slowed it down: PostTrak “definite recommend” fell to an OK 57%, below the awesome 70% figures we saw for Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War this summer. 

Overseas results are unclear for Ghostbusters, especially given the fact that Feig and McCarthy titles haven’t cleared $200M abroad. Furthermore, the best results for a U.S. comedy overseas is whenever it matches its domestic take.

Given Ghostbusters’ huge cost, a profit is unlikely in The Heat sense. That 2013 movie turned a profit of $61.8M off of $259.3M total revenues (global theatrical rental, TV and home entertainment) and total costs (across the same ancillaries) of $197.4M. These results were triggered by a global B.O. of $230M ($160M domestic). Even if Ghostbusters puts up similar numbersits global P&A and production cost are $131M more expensive than Heat‘s.

mad max 2

Two recent reboots with similar productions costs to Ghostbusters’ $150M got away with opening in the $40M range: last year’s Mad Max Fury Road from Warner Bros and Sony/MGM’s 2006 Bond title Casino Royale. While Ghostbusters waited 27 years to return to the screen after the most recent sequel, Mad Max waited 30 years. Casino Royale took the 007 franchise to another stratosphere, and there’s talk of a sequel for Fury Road. But here’s what they have that Ghostbusters does not: Both skew male and definitely can bank on overseas — plus, Fury Road was a seminal movie, beloved by critics and the Academy alike with 10 Oscars noms and six wins. The point being, Ghostbusters has more stacked against it than those franchises in regards to its longevity.

The go-to excuse for the less-than-spectacular opening for Ghostbusters was that Sony was too ambitious in re-starting this franchise with a female cast — that it completely put off guys.

But the real reason more than anything else as to why Ghostbusters under-delivered: It’s not your typical, bawdy Feig/McCarthy comedy but instead more family-friendly. That’s what everyone noticed and cried foul over in March after seeing the first trailer (one of the worst-rated in YouTube history): They didn’t think it was funny.

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The original Ghostbusters was never intended to be a family brand, it was a special effects tentpole with a sarcastic Saturday Night Live/National Lampoon/Second City sense of humor. Over time, it became kid-ified with its cartoon and video game ancillaries, and that’s the trap that Sony and the filmmakers fell into in reigniting this film. It’s too goody goody, and audiences can smell that. If you’re going to hire Feig and McCarthy, then they should execute what they’re known and loved for: a raunchy Ghostbusters. All the outrageous elements that have made Feig/McCarthy films great — characters getting a bad batch of food poisoning, McCarthy handing out the riot act, biting banter, cutthroat fights (that McCarthy knife fight in Spy!) — have been traded in for an origins story about proton packs and a deep dive on phantom science; in sum, this Ghostbusters takes itself more seriously than the 1984 version and plays it too safe.

clinton ellen mckinnon

Despite the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, some believe that Sony and the filmmakers made too much out of the anti-feminist controversy. One major studio executive criticized Sony for continually addressing its bullies instead of ignoring them: “The media thrived on that anti-feminist through-line. That message doesn’t work for Hillary Clinton in regards to getting her elected. It should never be about supporting or not supporting a movie just because it stars women. If the movie looks good, people should just go.” If Ghostbusters had more heat than hate, it would have climbed to greater heights.

Heading into the weekend, another box office analyst believed that Sony’s clash with its Ghostbusters detractors was a means to intrigue the public, get them in the door and distract them from what Ghostbusters really is: A saccharine movie that’s comedically pedestrian next to its 1984 original.

vacation 2

Last year, one of the problems cited in the reboot of New Line/Warner Bros.’ Vacation was how it failed to incorporate the original characters from the 1980s films in its marketing. Granted, most of the actors from the first Ghostbusters make cameos as different characters in the current version, but for some movie marketing folk, whenever a campaign is inclusive of its original elements, it goes a long way toward pulling the brand’s legacy demo back inside the theater.

Says one rival distribution chief, “They allegedly made this film because there’s an enormous love for the franchise. If this is in fact the case, why would you go and alienate that core group?”

The questions for Sony and the filmmakers moving forward: Do they raise the sense of humor to a fierce level with the next girl Ghostbusters? Do they go the guy route? Do they cross pollinate with both sexes? Or do they put Ghostbusters on pause? Despite the support this Ghostbusters has earned from critics, we can’t dismiss the fact it didn’t impress a good quadrant of fans, as males and over-25 folks gave it a B.

For Sony, after everything they weathered in the lead up to Ghostbusters, the weekend is nothing less than a win in their book. In all fairness, they did implement a marketing campaign at the last minute which swelled their tracking upward from the $30M range. And they delivered record B.O. openings for Feig and co-star Melissa McCarthy. In a summer where film critics have a Roman emperor’s power over a tentpole’s fate, Sony was able to get them on board as they awarded Ghostbusters a 73% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score.

“This is the biggest opening for a live-action comedy in over a year and we reached a wide audience that’s both new and nostalgic,” said Sony marketing and distribution chief Josh Greenstein, who was over the moon yesterday. “Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones made it fresh. I have to give credit to (producers) Amy Pascal and Ivan Reitman for bringing Ghostbusters back to the big screen and Paul Feig who cast the four brilliant leads. We’ve successfully restarted this important brand, and we’re ecstatic in the wake of the $100M-plus opening of The Secret Life Of Pets. We have room to run as we are the only live-action comedy in the market. We here at Sony commend Paul on a brilliant job with Ghostbusters.

The final top 20 studio-reported figures for the weekend of July 15-17 from ComScore:

1). The Secret Life of Pets (ILL/UNI), 4,381 theaters (+11) / 3-day cume: $50.8M (-51%)/ Per screen avg.: $11,604 /Total Cume: $203.4M/Wk 2

2). Ghostbusters (SONY), 3,963 theaters (+11) / 3-day cume: $46M / Per screen: $11,612 / Wk 1

3.) The Legend of Tarzan (WB), 3,551 theaters (-40) / 3-day cume: $11.4M (-46%)/ Per screen: $3,222 / Total cume: $103.4M/Wk 3

4). Finding Dory (DIS), 3,536 theaters (-335) / 3-day cume: $11.3M (-46%)/ Per screen: $3,190 / Total cume: $445.7M/Wk 5

5). Mike and David Need Wedding Dates (FOX), 3,008 theaters (+26) / 3-day cume: $7.7M (-54%)/ Per screen: $2,546 / Total cume: $31.5M/Wk 2

6). The Purge: Election Day (UNI), 2,671 theaters (-150) / 3-day cume: $6.2M (-50%)/ Per screen: $2,316 / Total cume: $71.1M/Wk 3

7). Central Intelligence (WB/NL/UNI), 2,381 theaters (-460) / 3-day cume: $5.4M (-33%)/ Per screen: $2,256 / Total: $117.6M/ Wk 5

8). The Infiltrator (BG), 1,601 theaters / 3-day cume: $5.3M/ Per screen: $3,313 / Total: $6.8M/Wk 1 Wed. opening

9). The BFG (DIS), 2,182 theaters (-1,210) / 3-day cume: $3.8M (-51%)/ Per screen: $1,737 / Total cume: $47.4M/Wk 3

10). Independence Day: Resurgence (FOX), 2,290 theaters (-771) / 3-day cume: $3.5M(-55%)/ Per screen: $1,538 /Total: $98.6M/ Wk 4

11). The Shallows (SONY), 1,695 theaters (-711) / 3-day: $3M (-37%)/ Per screen: $1,773 / Total: $51.4M/Wk 4

12). Sultan (YASH), 273 theaters  (-10)/3-day cume: $975K (-59%)/ Per screen: $3,571 / Total cume: $5.2M/Wk 2

13). Conjuring 2 (WB/NL), 566 theaters (-486) / 3-day cume: $851K (-50%)/ Per screen: $1,504 /Total cume: $101.1M/Wk 6

14). Now You See Me 2 (LG), 523 theaters (-341)/ 3-day cume: $687K (-48%)Per screen: $1,314 /Total cume: $63.5M/Wk 6

15). Hunt For The Wilderpeople (ORCH), 155 theaters (+83) / 3-day cume: $567K (+46%)Per screen: $3,659 /Total cume: $1.5M /Wk 4

16). The Jungle Book (DIS), 276 theaters (+79) /3-day cume: $517K (+105%)/ Per screen: $1,874 /Total cume: $360.9M / Wk 14

17). Free State of Jones (STX), 506 theaters (-758) / 3-day cume: $483K (-64%)/ Per screen: $954 / Total cume: $20.4M /Wk 4

18). Cafe Society (LG/AMZ), 5 theaters / 3-day cume: $359K / Per screen: $71,858/ Wk 1

19). Our Kind Of Traitor (RSA), 262 theaters (-137) / 3-day cume: $301K (-58%)Per screen: $1,148 /Total cume: $2.8M/Wk 3

20). Captain Fantastic (BST), 36 theaters (+32) / 3-day cume: $289K (+208%) / Per screen: $8,025 / Total cume: $418K/Wk 2

Notables:

Swiss Army Man (A24), 228 theaters (-372) / 3-day cume: $258K (-62%)/ Per screen: $1,130 / Total: $3.7M/Wk 4

Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party (IND), 3 theaters / 3-day cume: $75K /Per screen: $24,938/Wk 1

So Young 2: Never Gone (CLM), 21 theaters / 3-day cume: $52K /Per screen: $2,483/ Wk 1

Seondal: The Man Who Sells The River (CJ ENT), 7 theaters / 3-day cume: $36K /Per screen: $5,202/ Total cume: $37K /Wk 1

Equals (A24), 2 theaters / 3-day cume: $9K / Per screen: $4,603/ Wk 1

Phantom Boy (GKIDS), 1 theaters / 3-day cume: $4,352/ Wk 1

Below are the top films for the weekend of July 15-17 according to studio-reported estimates as of Sunday morning:

1). The Secret Life Of Pets (ILL/UNI), 4,381 theaters (+11) / $15.3M Fri. / $20.1M Sat. (+32%) / $15.1M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $50.56M (-52%)/Total Cume: $203.15M/Wk 2

2). Ghostbusters (SONY), 3,963 theaters (+11) / $17.2M Fri. (includes $3.4M previews)/ $16.35M Sat. (-5%) / $12.45M Sun. (-24%) / 3-day cume: $46M /Wk 1

3.) The Legend Of Tarzan (WB), 3,551 theaters (-40) / $3.3M Fri. / $4.6M Sat. (+39%) / $3.2M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $11.1M (-47%)/Total cume: $103.05M/Wk 3

4). Finding Dory (DIS), 3,536 theaters (-335) / $3.3M Fri. /$4.4M Sat. (+34%) / $3.3M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $11M (-47%)/Total cume: $445.5M/Wk 5

5). Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates (FOX), 3,008 theaters (+26) / $2.4M Fri./ $3M Sat. (+25%) / $2.2M Sun. (-27%) / 3-day cume: $7.5M (-55%)/Total cume: $31.3M/Wk 2

6). The Purge: Election Day (UNI), 2,671 theaters (-150) / $1.95M Fri./ $2.4M Sat. (+24%) / $1.7M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $6.08M (-51%)/Total cume: $71M/Wk 3

7). Central Intelligence (WB/NL/UNI), 2,381 theaters (-460) / $1.6M Fri. / $2.2M Sat. (+43%) / $1.5M Sun. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $5.3M (-34%)/Total: $117.5M/ Wk 5

8). The Infiltrator (BG), 1,601 theaters  / $1.5M Fri. / $2.2M Sat. (+46%) / $1.6M Sun. (-28%) / 3-day cume: $5.3M/Total: $6.7M/Wk 1 Wed. opening

9). The BFG (DIS), 2,182 theaters (-1,210) / $1.1M Fri. / $1.5M Sat. (+32%) / $1.1M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $3.7M (-52%)/Total cume: $47.3M/Wk 3

10). Independence Day: Resurgence (FOX), 2,290 theaters (-771) / $973K Fri. /$1.5M Sat. (+52%) / $1M Sun. (-32%) / 3-day cume: $3.45M(-56%)/Total: $98.5M/ Wk 4

Notables:

Cafe Society (LG/AMZ), 5 theaters / $115K Fri./ $136K Sat. (+16%) / $104K Sun. (-24%) / 3-day cume: $355K /PTA: $71K/Wk 1

Captain Fantastic (BST), 36 theaters (+32) / $78K Fri. /$125K Sat. (+61%) / $74K Sun. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $277K(+196%) /Total cume: $406K/Wk 2

Swiss Army Man (A24), 228 theaters (-372) / $77K Fri./ $103K Sat. (+33%) / $82K Sun. (-20%) / 3-day cume: $262K (-61%)/Total: $3.7M/Wk 4

Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party (IND), 3 theaters / $41K Fri./ $21K Sat. (-50%) / $14K Sun. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $76K /PTA: $25K/Wk 1

Equals (A24), 4 theaters / $4K Fri./ $3K Sat. (-24%) / $2K Sun. (-33%) / 3-day cume: $9K /Wk 1

5TH WRITETHRU, Saturday 8:30am after 1:10AM: Sony/Village Roadshow’s female Ghostbusters has slowed in its weekend estimates from some of the hyper projections we saw on Friday, now heading toward a $44.5M weekend opening after winning Friday with a $16.9M gross. Sony is projecting a weekend of $46.5M, but this is where industry estimates have it as of now.

Yes, that three-day is a record for director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy (easily beating the $39.1M opening of their B.O. high The Heat), however, considering what Ghostbusters cost at $144M after rebates (and before an estimated $100M-plus global P&A), a number of rival sources consider anything in the $40M range to be a mediocre start for this reboot. Anything north of $50M is ideally safer.

“It’s not a bomb,” said one non-Sony executive today, “a bomb would be an opening in the $20M range. However, a start such as this really puts more pressure on overseas delivering.”

Ghostbusters‘ overseas rollout is splintered with English speaking and Brazil going this weekend, and Russia and Japan in two weeks. Ghostbusters is such an antiquated property, and hit the overseas market in the 1980s when the theatrical infrastructure was quite nascent. Couple this with the fact that none of Feig or McCarthy’s headlining titles have eclipsed $200M overseas. As the rule goes with American comedies, if you make as much as domestic at the overseas box office; that’s as good as it gets.

Over at Sony, which has invested their heart and soul in dusting off this property for a new generation, they’re giddy about the $45M start, and Ghostbusters could still get to a $50M opening thanks to an A- CinemaScore with the under-25 crowd, and an overall B+. By the way, that’s the same grade that Bridesmaids and Spy received. Consider the fact that when Ghostbusters first hit tracking four weeks ago, it was in the low $30M range, and thanks to great reviews (at 73% fresh) and a blitzkrieg marketing campaign, the studio raised its opening figures (which doesn’t always happen by the way, so it’s a testament to their marketing force). Another factor working in Ghostbusters favor is that it arguably was the only mega wide release this weekend, which hasn’t been the case for many studio releases this summer. Broad Green’s new entry at 1,601 theaters, The Infiltrator isn’t resonating with $6.1M five-day, nor is it taking any wind out of Ghostbusters’ sails. Furthermore, the Bryan Cranston movie is aimed at a more upscale adult audience as Ghostbusters is making a play for females and families.

While a B+ CinemaScore typically generates a final domestic B.O. that’s 3.2x a film’s opening weekend, McCarthy’s multiples are off the chart yielding high final domestic tallies when juxtaposed to their first weekends, i.e. Bridesmaids (6.5x), The Heat (4x), Tammy (3.9x), and Spy (3.8M), so it’s possible that Ghostbusters could see a final domestic B.O. that’s north of $150M.

the heat

However, we can’t ignore the fact that Ghostbusters isn’t the normal shoestring Feig/McCarthy budgeted comedy (Spy cost $65M before P&A, and The Heat cost $45M), so there’s a dark cloud whether it will even see a profit. According to film finance sources, The Heat generated a profit of $61.8M off of $259.3M total revenues (global theatrical rental, TV and home entertainment) and total costs (across the same ancillaries) of $197.4M. And this was spurred by a global B.O. of $230M ($160M domestic). Should Ghostbusters put up similar types of numbers as The Heat, its global P&A and production cost is an estimated $131M more expensive than that 2013 title (Granted, Ghostbusters is a VFX comedy, but the director/star elements remain intact).

rise of the planet of hte apes

And while there hasn’t been a franchise like Ghostbusters that’s been dormant for 27 years, there’s something to be said about recent pricey reboots, which by taking a glance at their openings, clearly indicated that their franchises were reinvigorated, i.e Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($54.8M), Batman Begins (5-day debut $72.9M), Man of Steel ($116.6M), and of course Jurassic World ($208.8M) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248M). And then there are those reboots that didn’t start the fire, i.e. last summer’s Terminator: Genisys ($27M).

Many distribution execs are challenged when it comes to comping Ghostbusters: It’s less adult than previous Feig/McCarthy collaborations, and not exactly hitting the zeitgeist like a young girl pic ala Pitch Perfect 2 ($69.1M). Some are projecting an OK hold into Saturday, -10% or less from Friday’s number (a daily gross of $15.8M-plus). Percent wise that’s better than Pitch Perfect 2, but it’s less than the 5% Saturday uptick registered by Feig/McCarthy’s The Heat and  Spy’s +9%

In regards to audience make-up for Ghostbusters, it was just as old as the audience for The Heat (both pulled in 67% over 25), and not as top heavy female in its draw (Ghostbusters Heat lured in 57% female, Heat hooked 65% women). In addition, 41% of the audience tonight said they came out for the ensemble of McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. But here’s what hurts: the demo that Sony went after with Ghostbusters — females– they weren’t really blown over.  Those who came out for the actresses gave them a B+, and females gave it the same grade too.  And as far as males and the old time fans? Guys, over 25, 35-49, and 50+ all gave Ghostbusters a B.  The only people handing out A-s for Ghostbusters were the under 25 bunch (at 33%) and the under 18 set (21%).

Roger Ebert had some fascinating insights about the 1984 Ghostbusters, which still ring true today with VFX comedies in general. After Steven Spielberg’s John Belushi-Dan Aykroyd World War II comedy 1941 nosedived ($31M), the success of Ghostbusters was an anomaly in its day, taking comedies to a whole other level at the box office and with the masses.

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“This movie is an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy,” wrote Ebert in his review of the original film, further adding on his show At the Movies that Ghostbusters “is the funny combination of two types of movies that usually don’t work well together. On one hand this is a big budget special effects picture with lots of sensational, earth shaking effects in it, and on the other hand, it’s a very funny movie to listen to because of the sly and understated dialogue.”

The fact of the matter is that VFX comedies are still hard to pull off at the B.O. and if you count them up, the successes are far and few between (read Men in Black, Night at the Museum, and arguably Bruce Almighty and Ted). Adam Sandler’s arcade comedy Pixels was billed as a kind-a of Ghostbusters type comedy last summer, but failed with $78.7M at the domestic B.O.

Elsewhere at the box office, several films are passing various benchmarks. Finding Dory by Sunday will be the highest grossing animated film stateside of all-time at $445.6M, beating DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2 ($441.2M), Illumination/Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets will dash past the double century mark, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s Legend of Tarzan is swinging past $100M, and Uni/Blumhouse/Platinum Dunes’ The Purge: Election Year will come very close to becoming the highest grossing installment in the horror series, soon beating The Purge: Anarchy ($72M).

cafe society

Lionsgate’s release of Amazon’s Woody Allen film, Cafe Society, (which the latter acquired for eight figures) is bound to post the best opening theater average of the year with $65K at five New York and Los Angeles locations. While that number is slightly under the opening theater averages of such Allen titles as Blue Jasmine ($102K) and Midnight in Paris ($100K), it’s well above the $25K average posted by last year’s Irrational Man ($25K at seven venues). Cafe Society, which opened the Cannes Film Festival this year, has a 78% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Last year’s Irrational Man, which also played Cannes, only earned 44% rotten. That film, handled by Sony Pictures Classics, made $4M after hitting a wide break of 925. Lionsgate plans to expand Cafe Society in the coming weeks.

Below are the top 10 films and notables according to industry estimates for the weekend of July 15-17 as of Saturday morning:

1). The Secret Life of Pets (ILL/UNI), 4,381 theaters (+11) / $15.1M Fri. (-61%)/ 3-day cume: $50.4M (-52%)/Total Cume: $203.7M/Wk 2

2). Ghostbusters (SONY), 3,963 theaters (+11) / $16.9M Fri. (includes $3.4M previews)/ 3-day cume: $44.5M /Wk 1

3.) The Legend of Tarzan (WB), 3,551 theaters (-40) / $3.24M Fri. (-48%) / 3-day cume: $11.5M (-45%)/Total cume: $103.4M/Wk 3

4). Finding Dory (DIS), 3,535 theaters (-335) / $3.29M Fri. (-49%)/ 3-day cume: $11M (-47%)/Total cume: $445.6M/Wk 5

5). Mike and David Need Wedding Dates (FOX), 3,008 theaters (+26) / $2.3M Fri. (-65%) / 3-day cume: $7.3M (-56%)/Total cume: $31.3M/Wk 2

6). The Purge: Election Day (UNI), 2,671 theaters (-150) / $1.9M Fri. (-53%) / 3-day cume: $5.9M (-52%)/Total cume: $70.9M/Wk 3

7). Central Intelligence (WB/NL/UNI), 2,381 theaters (-460) / $1.5M Fri. (-39%) / 3-day cume: $5.2M (-35%)/Total: $117.4M/ Wk 5

8). The Infiltrator (BG),  1,601 theaters  / $1.49M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.6M/Total: $6.1M/Wk 1 Wed. opening

9). The BFG (DIS), 2,182 theaters (-1,210) / $1.1M Fri. (-52%) / 3-day cume: $3.56M (-54%)/Total cume: $47.1M/Wk 3

10). Independence Day: Resurgence (FOX), 2,290 theaters (-771) / $960K Fri. (-56%) /3-day cume: $3.3M(-57%)/Total: $98.4M/ Wk 4

Notables:

Cafe Society (LG/AMZ), 5 theaters / $1114K Fri./3-day cume: $325K /PTA: $65K/Wk 1

Captain Fantastic (BST), 36 theaters (+32 / $75K Fri.  (+158%)/3-day cume: $243K (+161%) /Total cume: $384K/Wk 2

Swiss Army Man (A24), 228 theaters (-372) / $72K Fri. (-65%) /3-day cume: $240K (-64%)/Total: $3.7M/Wk 4

3rd WRITETHRU, Friday 4:47 PM: According to some industry estimates right now, Sony/Village Roadshow’s Ghosbusters isn’t that far from The Secret Life of Pets. The Paul Feig-directed, femme-starring Ghostbusters will win Friday easily with an estimated $18M-$19M but could hit $49.4M, slotting below Illumination/Universal’s Pets, which is looking to take No. 1 again with $50M. Pets’ Friday is coming in around $15M and by Sunday will count $202.6M.

Note these estimates are still early and could change by tonight. Comping Ghostbusters to other movies is a head-scratcher for many insiders. Some are juxtaposing it to Ant-Man and The Legend of Tarzan given their family appeal.

According to comScore’s PostTrak, women are crowding auditoriums for Ghostbusters (of course). Still, there’s a constituency of box office forecasters who still believe Ghostbusters can pull off a $55M-plus opening, though Sony is sticking by its mid- to-high-$40M-range estimate). Hands down, director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy can look forward to the best opening of their careers thanks to Ghostbusters, outstripping their 2013 pic The Heat ($39.1M).

PostTrak also is reporting solid word-of-mouth for Ghostbusters with a 60% recommend. How that stacks up to other summer titles: Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory (74% definite recommend, that’s huge), Secret Life of Pets (61%) and Central Intelligence (59%). Fandango reported earlier that Ghostbusters was their No. 1 advance ticket seller of the weekend, edging out Pets. 

RelishMix reports a social media universe of 160.7M for Ghostbusters across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which is strong for a summer tentpole. Sony is tapping brand partnerships and fans’ nostalgia to promote the movie, from partnering with Lyft to bringing back the Ecto-flavored Hi-C juice box. The original trailer from March still is getting 100K-plus views a day, which is decent, and it has a 14:1 viral rate which is considered to be fantastic.

RelishMix notices that the social conversation is mixed at best, however. “Some fans can’t wait to see this take on Ghostbusters, while others are appalled at how bad it looks and are trying to rally others to skip it,” reports the social media monitor firm.Chris Hemsworth has the biggest social following among the Ghostbusters cast members with 12.6M, but he’s not aggressively posting materials from the film. McCarthy counts 2.6M on social, while Feig has 2M and they’re busily promoting. Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon do not have a social footprint, while Leslie Jones has 330K between Twitter and Instagram.

So fun! I ❤️NYC!! #ghostbusters @todayshow @alroker

A post shared by Melissa McCarthy (@melissamccarthy) on

In third, Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory is looking at a fifth-weekend haul of $10.8m at 3,536 venues for a running cume by Sunday of $445.3M, eclipsing DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2 ($441.2M) as the highest grossing animated film at the domestic box office.

Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s The Legend of Tarzan will swing past the century mark by Sunday with an estimated $101.6M after a third weekend in fourth place with $9.7M.

20th Century Fox’s Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates own fifth place with a 52% second weekend decline and three-day of $8M and 10-day take of $31.8M.

Broad Green’s wide entry The Infiltrator will count $5M by Sunday. The distributor bought U.S. rights based on footage out of last year’s Cannes Film Festival for an estimated $4M.

PREVIOUSLY, Friday 7:44 AM: Sony/Village Roadshow’s female spin on Ghostbusters finally hit the screen last night in previews, ringing up a solid $3.4 million.

By comparison, that’s more than the $1M B.O. racked up by The Heat in its first night of previews. That film turned out to be the highest opening for Ghostbusters director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy, making $39.1M in its first weekend and $159.6M overall stateside. Granted, that’s an R-rated original action comedy, however, comps are hard for Ghostbusters. It should also be noted that Ghostbusters drew more than the $1.5M previews posted by by Adam Sandler’s 1980s arcade fiasco Pixels last July which opened to $24M, and stalled at $78.7M.

Ever since its first trailer dropped in March, Ghostbusters has been embattled by online male naysayers. But in the wake of its Hollywood premiere last Saturday, the VFX comedy is actually seeing a ray of hope at the weekend B.O. thanks to a groundswell of decent buzz from critics with a 73% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. And in a summer where blockbusters live and die by the Roman thumbs of film critics, that’s not a bad start for the Kristen Wiig-Melissa McCarthy-Kate McKinnon-Leslie Jones ensemble. As such, tracking has popped for Ghostbusters, moving beyond the $35M seen four weeks ago into the high-$40M, maybe $50M range in second place. Sony remains conservative in its projection with a $40M range-debut for the pic which cost $144M. Ghostbusters is booked at 3,963 theaters this weekend with an extra boost from 3D and Imax.

The Secret Life of Pets 1

Illumination Entertainment/Universal’s The Secret Life Of Pets is expected to hold No. 1 after earning $104.4M last weekend. Projections for Weekend 2 range between $50M-$60M. Yesterday, Pets feasted on $10.5M at 4,370 venues bringing its week tally to $152.7M. Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory was second with $2.6M at 3,871, raising its four-week running cume to $434.47M. This weekend, Dory should easily become the highest-grossing animated film of all time at the domestic box office, unseating DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2 ($441.2M), which has owned the title for the past 12 years.

Also new this weekend is Broad Green’s Bryan Cranston crime drama The Infiltrator, which opened Wednesday and currently counts an estimated $1.5M at 1,600 locations through two days. The movie directed by Brad Furman made $710K last night. Many expect the pic’s cume to climb to $5M-$6M by Sunday.