Weekend Forecast: Can ‘Ghostbusters’ Turn Controversy into Successful Opening?

1271033 - THE WALK

This weekend will see the release of what’s likely the most talked about film of the summer, though not much of the discourse has to do with the film itself. Sony made the decision to remake the Ghostbusters franchise starring a gender-flipped cast, with four women taking the lead roles and a man taking the job of their receptionist. This sparked controversy and debate all over the internet, and whether or not that debate is about gender, the film, the trailer, or remakes in general is up to debate. What’s not up to debate however is just how crucial this film is to Sony Pictures.

As seen through box office results and the leaked emails from 2014, Sony is really in need of a successful franchise. The Bond series went through a rough patch, between the underwhelming results of Spectre and Daniel Craig’s unwillingness to star in another installment. There were also plans for a shared Spider-Man cinematic universe, including two mores sequels, a Sinister Six film, and an all female superhero team that essentially lead to the creation of Ghostbusters. Not only is it just one film, but Sony is also planning a shared Ghostbusters universe, including sequels, spinoffs, a male team and crossovers. If this film isn’t successful, however, all of that goes down the drain. With a budget supposedly in the $144-$180 million range, and no release in China, that’s going to be tough.

While it has seen a massive amount of backlash and argumentation (the first trailer has over 930,000 dislikes on YouTube), what matters is not who isn’t going to see it, but who is. Plenty of films have gotten disproportionate amounts of media attention, but fail to translate those into successful openings; films like Team America: World PoliceSnakes on a Plane and Fantastic Four just to name a few. Granted, Ghostbusters does seem more appealing than any of those previously mentioned, so it probably won’t fail that bad.

Also opening this weekend is The Infiltrator, which tanked on Wednesday with just $770K. That’s a horrible opening weekend for a film that cost $47.5 million to produce, and will likely wind up with under $5 million by Sunday.

First place will more than likely go to The Secret Life of Pets once again, which will likely be able to ride strong word of mouth to another great weekend. It could also spell bad news for Ghostbusters, however, as it will lose much of its potential family audience to Pets.

In the limited release market, Woody Allen’s Cafe Society opens in 5 theaters, while A24’s Equals will open in two. Cafe Society should easily be able to pull in a $50K per theater average if not higher, and could work as solid counterprogramming for adult audiences if it expands into wide release over the next few weeks. Equals was sitting on the release shelf for quite some time now, and as a result will probably get ignored this weekend.

Bar for Success

With a massive production budget, no Chinese release and a franchise riding on its success, as well as being a remake of one of the most well known films of all time, Ghostbusters really needs to hit $60 million this weekend in order to be a success. The Infiltrator already technically opened on Wednesday, and if it can hit $10 million by Sunday, it will be fine. Unforunately it looks like there’s very little chance that that happens.

Predictions

  1. The Secret Life of Pets – $52M
  2. Ghostbusters – $36M
  3. Finding Dory – $11M
  4. The Legend of Tarzan – $10.5M
  5. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – $9M
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