Sunday AM Update: Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife turned in a $16.1M Saturday, which is very close to the amount of cash that Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters grossed on its second day of release, all of this amounting to a $44M opening weekend. That’s great, and the sequel blew up in the heartland, which is a great indicator of families coming out in the holiday week ahead, especially with its dynamite audience exits.
Comscore reports that 41% K-12 schools are off tomorrow and 16% colleges. That grows to 80% K-12 and 61% college on break by Wednesday, before both are 100% off Thursday and Friday. While the debut for the Jason Reitman edition is slightly lighter than Feig’s, which saw a domestic start of $46M; that’s really nothing to wince about.
.Meanwhile, the second wide release of the weekend, Warner Bros.’ Will Smith movie King Richard, was far from a grand slam with $5.7M. More on that HBO Max day-and-date theatrical release further down. Box office firm EntTelligence clocked 3.5M people who watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife this weekend to date, while King Richard had under 500K moviegoers. Ghostbusters: Afterlife saw 33% of its audience arrive before 4PM on Saturday, another solid indicators of family business (Mr. Bob Chapek, please note, there’s no reason to continue a hybrid release strategy at Disney). Again, as we mentioned further down, there were 3.5x more programmed seats for Ghostbusters: Afterlife than King Richard, which is due to more showtimes and larger auditoriums being given to the Sony movie.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife played best in the West, Midwest and Southwest. This opposed to King Richard, which only played on the coasts, and not in between, which isn’t surprising. Nine of the top ten for Afterlife werein the West and heartland, the latter which overindexed greatly. Salt Lake City, St. Louis, and Kansas City markets overindexed. Get a load of the top-ten grossing movie theaters 1.) AMC Burbank, 2.) AMC Dine-IN Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Fl, 3.) Harkins Estrella Falls in Goodyear, AZ, 4.) Harkins Mountain Grove 16 in Redlands, CA; 5.) Santikos Casa Blanca in San Antonio, TX; 6.) AMC Citywalk at Universal City, 7.) The Regal Warren 14 in Moore, OK, 8.) Cinemark 16 in Harlingen, TX, 9) Santikos Palladium in San Antonio and 10.) AMC Orange in CA. B&B Theatres’ Liberty, MO theater in the Kansas City DMA ranked No. 20.
Imax and PLF screens drove 33% of the weekend box office. $3.7M at 403 auditoriums was earned by Imax in U.S. and Canada.
In addition to the CinemaCon and New York Comic-Con previews, Sony rolled out a bespoke marketing campaign that spoke to both young and old Ghostbuster fans, in order to lure them out. There was a TikTok Duets video with influencers worldwide singing the movie’s Ray Parker Jr. classic song.
There was a special sports spot with the pic’s star Paul Rudd and Travis Kelce where the former traded a proton pack for a football from Kansas City Chiefs tight end and has to try and get it back.
In New York and LA, there were Ecto-1 car parades through high-traffic Halloween spots, including rooftop holograms.
Sony took over Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles, with the iconic donut-shaped sign transformed into the “no ghosts” Ghostbusters logo and free Ghostbusters donuts given out and delivered to press and influencers.
The studio tapped into the crypto sphere with “12 Days of Afterlife” Ghostbusters Mini-Puft NFTs. Conceived by Jason Reitman, scribe Gil Kenan, and artists Quentin Chaillet and Vochelle Yum, fans received access to high-quality and authentic Ghostbusters NFT collectibles. There were ten unique vignettes dropped over ten days from Nov. 8, and 10,5K additional collectible Mini-Pufts dropped on Nov. 18.
For the sequel, there were all-new licensing collaborations across apparel, publishing, toys, and collectibles, home goods, seasonal, gaming, interactive games and more, culminating in the brand’s biggest consumer program of all-time around the world.
Hasbro, the original toy partner of the film from 1986-1991, touted a toy lineup that included the Ghostbusters Proton Blaster M.O.D., Ghostbusters Kenner Classics Ecto-1 and Ghostbusters Plasma Series 6-Inch Figures. Hasbro also introduced its first Ghostbusters HasLab project, which gave fans the opportunity to get their hands on a Ghostbusters Plasma Series Spengler’s Proton Pack.
Imprezario Entertainment has the AR Ghostbusters: Afterlife ScARe game which dropped on Friday. Epic Games launched a Ghostbusters: Afterlife Fortnite in-game integration, where fans completed a series of movie-themed quests in order to unlock a free Ghostbusters back bling.
Lego provided wider distribution of its ECTO-1 toy (it’s been out there for some time). Reebok even had a line of footwear.
Among the film’s promo partners were family quick service restaurant Zaxby’s which sold Mini Pufts and Ghostbusters-themed Cherry-Grape Blaster drink. Coca-Cola dropped an exclusive commemorative bottle of the iconic Hi-C juice Ecto Cooler, which was released in 1989. Hi-C Ecto Cooler didn’t hit store shelves, but was received by a select number of influencers.
The Ad Council, as part of their Ready.gov emergency preparedness campaign, featured Ghostbusters: Afterlife in a promotion to help consumers prepare for unexpected weather and other emergency events. Messaging was seen in a 30-second national PSA spot and outdoor advertising.
Popcorn brand Pop Secret launched a digital and social campaign with limited edition film-themed packaging. In addition to an on-shelf presence at Target and Kroger, Pop Secret placed Ghostbusters-themed end aisle displays in all North American Walmart locations throughout the month of October.
As far as King Richard, and any concern of its box office curtailing its awards season prospects, here’s a sober assessment: the pic has great audience exits, and word of mouth, and for those awards season voters at home who have HBO Max, they’re getting the film delivered to them directly. Perhaps those who didn’t want to venture out to cinemas due to Covid will have the patience to watch this two-hour, 24 minute drama at home. Even without the pandemic and the HBO Max of it all, King Richard, like Smith’s previous sports drama Concussion, would have faced challenges: The movie plays best on the coasts and not in the heartland.
Also, King Richard is a tennis film — not exactly the type of sport that creates a stampede at the box office. Searchlight’s 2017 Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell ended its domestic run at $12.6M; hopefully King Richard can beat that score. Warners was smart here in launching this critically acclaimed and audience pleasing movie during the holiday moviegoing week.
Sony pulled off a similar plan with Concussion, opening that film on Christmas Day 2015, which resulted in a $10.5M opening stateside and a final domestic of $34.5M. While Smith has promoted the film to his 176M-plus fans across Twitter, Instagram and his YouTube channel per RelishMix, some awards marketing sources have critiqued they’d like to see him out there pushing the film a bit more; the actor currently pushing his new book Will.
King Richard‘s audience was 59% female on PostTrak, 81% over 25, 41% over 45 with African Americans repping 40% of ticket buyers, Caucasians 36%, Hispanic and Latino 15% and Asian/other at 9%. Those under 25 gave it an A+ on CinemaScore (20% of the audience), while it received As throughout.
Bright spots at the arthouse: the old plan of launching movies in NY and LA actually worked this past weekend, with A24’s Mike Mills-directed Joaquin Phoenix black and white drama C’mon C’mon, which posted $134K at five locations for a great $26,8K theater average, the best limited launch since February 2020. A24 had the movie booked at New York’s Angelika and Lincoln Square and LA’s AMC The Grove, Landmark on Pico and AMC Burbank. The movie, which follows a radio journalist who embarks on a cross-country trip with his young nephew, is 92% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Bleecker Street’s India Sweets and Spices debuted in 343 runs in 91 markets and we hear the movie didn’t do so well with $172,5K and a per screen of $503. The pic is 78% fresh on RT. The Geeta Malik-directed movie follows college freshman Alia, who returns home for the summer and discovers secrets and lies in her parents’ past that make her question everything she thought she knew about her family.
Pre-Thanksgiving chart for Nov. 19-21, according to studio numbers:
1.) Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) 4,315 theaters, Fri $16.5M/Sat $16.1M/Sun $11.3M/3-day: $44M/Wk 1
2.) Eternals (Dis) 4,055 theaters (-35), Fri $3.07M (-61%)/Sat $4.85M/Sun $2.9M/3-day $10.8M (-60%), Total $135.8M/Wk 3
3.) Clifford the Big Red Dog (Par) 3,628 (-72) theaters, Fri $2M (-53%)/Sat $3.6M/Sun $2.5M/3-day $8.1M (51%), Total $33.5M/Wk 2
4.) King Richard (WB) 3,302 theaters, Fri $1.9M, Sat $2.1M, Sun $1.6M/ 3-day $5.7M/Wk 1
5.) Dune (WB/Leg) 2,467 (-815) theaters, Fri $885K (-46%)/Sat $2.1M/Sun $1.6M/3-day $3M (-45%) Total $98.2M/Wk 5
6.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 2,230 (-308) theaters, Fri $755K, Sat $1.28M, Sun $765K, 3-day $2.8M (-29%), Total $206.5M/Wk 8
7.) No Time to Die (UAR) 2,407 (-460) theaters, Fri $791K (-43%), Sat $1.19M, Sun $718K, 3-day $2.7M (-40%), Total $154.7M/Wk 7
8.) The French Dispatch (Sea) 805 (-420) theaters, Fri $294K (-46%), Sat $422K, Sun $254K, 3-day $970K (-45%), Total $13.3M/Wk 5
9.) Belfast (Foc) 584 (+2) theaters, Fri $280K (-57%), Sat $400K, Sun $260K, 3-day $940K (-47%), Total $3.4M/Wk 2
10.) Ron’s Gone Wrong (20th/Dis) 1,520 (-910) Fri $210K (-62%), Sat $432K, Sun $246K, 3-day $888K (-59%), Total $22.1M/Wk 5
11.) Spencer (NEON) Fri $211K, Sat $290K, Sun $188,7K, 3-day $690K (-54%), Total $6.1M/Wk 3
Saturday AM Update: Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is beating its $30M-$35M industry expectations, with an expected $40.5M opening weekend after a $16.5M Friday, which includes Thursday previews. Of that figure, PLF screens and Imax are driving 35% of the gross for the Sony movie.
Box office analytics firm EntTelligence calculated that 1.25M people have seen Ghostbusters: Afterlife since its Thursday preview, 25% of that audience watching the movie on its first night in theaters. Close to a third of the movie’s opening-day business came after 8 p.m., which means it’s a big matinee driver, an indicator that families are seeing it. According to Comscore and Screen Engine’s PostTrak, close to a third of the audience was composed of a family adult and child under 12. PostTrak parents gave the movie five stars, while kids under 12 gave it 4 1/2.
Whether this sequel goes higher hinges on even more families coming out today. Word of mouth is already great for this sequel, which many Ghostbusters fans say finally delivers. Ghostbusters: Afterlife received an A- CinemaScore, slightly higher than Paul Feig’s all-femme 2016 Ghostbusters, which was graded B+. PostTrak has a good 69% “definite recommend” for the film, which is higher than the 57% of that pic starring Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones.
Feig praising Reitman, and Reitman expressing gratitude — no sour grapes here:
You are a class act, a great friend, and a brilliant director. My heart is filled with gratitude for @paulfeig, the brilliant ATC cast and crew. Thank you for expanding the GB universe and giving me the courage to attempt a 👻 movie. #weareallghostbusters https://t.co/lXBKBuLWiW
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) November 20, 2021
Overall, general audiences gave Ghostbusters: Afterlife four stars, with an 82% positive. Those in distribution also like to look toward the Rotten Tomatoes audience meter, and that’s at 95% from 1,000 verified ratings. The demo giving Ghostbusters: Afterlife its best grade on PostTrak was the 45-54 bunch, who turned out at 11% and gave the pic a 90% grade. They were kids when the first movie came out in 1984. All of this is enough to proton-boost Ghostbusters: Afterlife through the holiday week into the Black Friday frame, especially as more kids are off from school prior to Thanksgiving and completely off for the holiday and Friday. Already, PostTrak reports that 61% of Ghostbusters: Afterlife‘s audience bought their ticket the day of — a great sign of walk-up business.
Sony knew they had a hit on its hands with Ghostbusters: Afterlife and wasn’t afraid to shout out to the world about it. A film with a fresh-faced cast outside of Paul Rudd — the original castmembers in the film were kept quiet in the marketing for some time — needs much word of mouth. Sony launched Ghostbusters: Afterlife at CinemaCon, which truly impressed circuit bosses, who enjoyed the Steven Spielberg-like tale. Sony followed that up with a surprise preview of the sequel at New York Comic-Con, following a Q&A with Jason and Ivan Reitman and the cast, and that received a rapturous response:
I haven’t had an experience like last night since the Juno premiere at TIFF https://t.co/3LZ5PdloX4
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) October 9, 2021
Kids under 12 gave Ghostbusters: Afterlife an 88% positive rating and a 55% “definite recommend.” Feig’s previous Ghostbusters drew females, and the Reitman-directed sequel here brought in 60% guys, 40% women. An older-leaning audience turned out for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, with 72% over 25.
In addition, the prime moviegoing 18-34 demo only repped 44% of the crowd. Those over 35 made up 47%, which is very encouraging. Broken down further, men over 25 repped 43% of all Ghostbusters: Afterlife ticket buyers (grade 85%), women over 25 repped 29% (88% grade), men under 25 were 17% (67% grade), while women under 25 numbered 11% (75% grade). Diversity draw was 48% Caucasian, a strong Latino and Hispanic turnout of 25%, 11% African American and 9% Asian.
Warner Bros.’ King Richard isn’t doing so well, significantly below its $10M expectation, with an estimated $6.5M to rank fourth. This isn’t shocking: If you’re an older moviegoer, you’re going to see vintage cinema brand Ghostbusters with your family, not to mention the continued sluggishness of older audiences during the pandemic when it comes to more serious fare.
Furthermore, it’s a long movie at 2 hours and 18 minutes, which means fewer showtimes — not to mention it’s a lot to ask of an older audience that’s cautious about watching movies in theaters during the pandemic. Oh yes, and the HBO day-and-date of it all. Still, with all these older-skewing awards-bait movies this year, their fate will not be written at the box office. EntTelligence reports that there were 3.5 times more programmed seats for Ghostbusters: Afterlife than King Richard. This can be attributed to more showtimes and larger auditoriums being given to the Reitman movie.
Despite the small turnout, King Richard received an A CinemaScore from the audience, with a 94% positive on PostTrak and a huge 89% recommend. Those who showed up were 58% female and 77% over 25, with 39% over 45. Black moviegoers repped 41% of the audience, followed by 37% Caucasian, 12% Asian/other and 10% Hispanic and Latino. With the day after Thanksgiving traditionally one of the biggest moviegoing days of the year, let’s see how King Richard shakes out by next Sunday.
Disney/Marvel’s Eternals holds bragging rights for a second-place rank in its third weekend, earning $3.07M Friday on its way to an estimated $10.8M, -60% for a running total by the end of Sunday of $135.8M. Paramount’s second weekend of eOne’s Clifford the Big Red Dog is expected to be down 52% for $8M in third, and a $33.5M running total by the end of Sunday. The pic is also available in homes on Paramount+.
Top 11 chart for the weekend of Nov. 19-21, 2021
1.) Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) 4,315 theaters, Fri $16.5M, 3-day: $40.5M/Wk 1
2.) Eternals (Dis) 4,055 theaters (-35), Fri $3.07M (-61%), 3-day $10.8M (-60%), Total $135.8M/Wk 3
3.) Clifford the Big Red Dog (Par) 3,628 (-72) theaters, Fri $2M (-53%), 3-day $8M (52%), Total $33.5M/Wk 2
4.) King Richard (WB) 3,302 theaters, Fri $1.9M, 3-day $6.5M/Wk 1
5.) Dune (WB/Leg) 2,467 (-815) theaters, Fri $885K (-46%), 3-day $3M (-45%) Total $98.2M/Wk 5
6.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 2,230 (-308) theaters, Fri $725K (-30%), 3-day $2.65M (-32%), Total $206.3M/Wk 8
7.) No Time to Die (UAR) 2,407 (-460) theaters, Fri $791K (-43%), 3-day $2.6M (-42%), Total $154.6M/Wk 7
8.) The French Dispatch (Sea) 805 (-420) theaters, Fri $294K (-46%), 3-day $992K (-44%), Total $13.3M/Wk 5
9.) Ron’s Gone Wrong (20th/Dis) 1,520 (-910) Fri $210K (-62%), 3-day $861K (-61%), Total $22M/Wk 5
10.) Belfast (Foc) 584 (+2) theaters, Fri $270K (-58%), 3-day $830K (-53%), Total $3.3M/Wk 2
11.) Spencer (NEON) Fri $228K (-53%), 3-day $678K (-55%), Total $6.1M/Wk 3
Friday AM: Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is off to a promising start at the pre-Thanksgiving box office with $4.5M, ahead of Sony’s 2016 all-femme reboot, which posted a Friday of $3.5M. While Sony was projecting $27M-$28M, and the industry higher $30M-$35M, Thursday night’s screenings (which started at 4 p.m. in 3,450 locations) puts the Jason Reitman-directed feature in a position potentially to exceed both of those projections. Any added propulsion here at the box office is off pure word of mouth. The sequel is booked at 4,300 theaters.
The 2016 Paul Feig version of Ghostbusters went on to earn a $17.1M Friday, including previews, a $46M domestic opening and finaled at 2.8x multiple off a B+ CinemaScore with $128.3M. That audience score was down from the 1989 Ivan Reitman-directed sequel Ghostbusters 2 which had an A-. Ghostbusters: Afterlife will have all the Imax and PLF theaters this weekend at its service.
In regards to promotion, social analytics corp RelishMix reports that Ghostbusters: Afterlife dropped its first trailer on Dec. 9, 2019 and began to build momentum to the July 2020 date only to hit the Covid pause button.
For the next full year — until this past April — the studio dropped weekly clips onto the movie’s Facebook pages as the industry re-set. Afterlife, has 105 videos for 7.6M predominately organic views “which is strong” says RelishMix.
On YouTube, 11 videos reposted at a viral rate of 41:1 have amassed 94.3M views “with an exceptional load of review spots.” Sony’s 40.9M social media universe is cross-promoted with the movie at 3.2M fans and Playstation at 104.2 fans — which are all rolled into the sequel’s total social media universe of 275.6M.
Conversation for Ghostbusters: Afterlife leans positive “with enthusiasm for new cast members Finn Wolfhard and Paul Rudd — and joyous references of the original from 1984 with the return of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts,” says RelishMix. “The second redo is intensely nostalgic for fans and their memories of New York in the 1980s and feeling that Ghostbusters are here to save the day.
Wolfhard fans are pointing out the obvious connection when the cast of Stranger Things dressed up as Ghostbusters in an episode. Gozer the Gozerian and the Stay Puff (sic.) man along with chatter about the video game also leads to cross promotions which are seen within the PlayStation universe. Skeptics touch on the first reboot from 2016 and now, with a kids driven episode and how that will play.”
The pic’s social media stars include Dan Aykroyd with 1.8M fans, McKenna Grace at 1.6M. and Wolfhard with 20.9M on Instagram. Jason Reitman counts over 228K between his Instagram and Twitter handles.
Grace with the Ghostbusters:
Also opening today is the Warner Bros. Richard Williams biopic King Richard about Venus and Serena Williams’ father, in 3,250 theaters and on HBO Max. The pic is hoping to lob a $10M start.
Disney’s Eternals ended its second week with an estimated $33.7M in first place in 4,090 theaters, after a $1.3M Thursday, -19% from Wednesday, putting the MCU title at $124.9M. The movie is expected to ease 50% in weekend 3 with around $13M for a No. 2 slot, that is unless King Richard greatly overperforms.
Paramount’s theatrical release of Clifford the Big Red Dog, which is also available in homes on Paramount+, saw a $655K Thursday at 3,700 sites, -8% from Wednesday and a running total of $25.4M. Clifford looks to be at least 40% from its three-day of $16.6M with just under $10M. Clifford‘s last seven days at the B.O. came in at $19.8M.
Warner Bros./Legendary’s Dune, which is in its final weekend on HBO Max before it’s exclusive to exhibition in its second month, continues to hold, notching third place with an estimated $7.5M fourth week in 3,282 movie theaters, an estimated $450K Thursday, and a running total just over $95M. The pic will clear the century mark at the domestic box office this week, Warner’s second to do so during the pandemic after Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
In fourth is UAR/MGM’s No Time to Die, which is also in homes on PVOD, which earned $385K yesterday at 2,867, -2%, for a $6.1M sixth week, and a running total in the U.S. and Canada of $152M.
Fifth place belongs to Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, booked at 2,538 with a Thursday estimated at $250K, off 7% from Wednesday, for a 7th week of $5M and running total of $203.7M.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.