It wasn’t a great start, but thanks to a built in fanbase and plenty of media attention, Ghostbusters avoided being labeled a bomb with a $46 million opening weekend. That wasn’t enough to take first place, however, which instead went to The Secret Life of Pets, which took in $50 million over its second weekend. Meanwhile, Cafe Society got off to a fantastic start in limited release, while The Infiltrator flopped.
Ghostbusters had predictions all over the board in the weeks leading up to its release, with many claiming the film would be dead on arrival with a weekend of under $30 million, while others said that it would pull in over $70 million. Turns out neither of those were right, but the film still wound up on the lower end of those expectations. The controversy and nostalgia likely pushed it to a much higher opening then it would have otherwise, meaning that a potential sequel would have a difficult time recreating this number. A similar result happened with this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which made less than half of its predecessor despite better reviews and a slew of fan favorite characters. While it certainly wasn’t a flop, this will probably result in a drastically scaled back or even cancelled “cinematic universe”.
Director Paul Feig stated in an interview recently that the film would need to take in around $500 million worldwide just to break even, but there is the idea that Sony may be willing to take a small loss on this film if it means they can have a reliable franchise and kickstart their other plans, such as a male-oriented spinoff and several sequels. These plans are further evidenced by the “Ghost Corps” logo on both the poster and in the beginning of the film. However, that plan seems less likely now that the film failed to generate the opening that it really needed.
So where can Ghostbusters go from here? Well, there are some rumors that Sony has artificually inflated the numbers for this opening, and that when the actuals come in it could be notably lower. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, but it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. Between a rush of fans and curious moviegoers wanting to see the film as soon as possible, combined with a mediocre B+ Cinemascore and a slew of competition on the horizon (Star Trek Beyond, Ice Age: Collision Course, Lights Out, Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad) it’s looking like Ghostbusters is going to play less like a Paul Feig movie and more like a traditional blockbuster. If the $46 million number holds, it will likely wind up somewhere around $120-$130 million. If it’s lower, then perhaps around $110 million, but only time will tell.
In first place, The Secret Life of Pets was down 52% to $50.5 million. That’s not a great hold, but the film is doing so well that it doesn’t really mean all that much. Illumination Entertainment’s releases tend to be a bit more front loaded than other studios, but it can still likely wind up with over $300 million. In fact, there’s a decent chance that it winds up outgrossing Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which would bump the DC tentpole down to 7th place. With several other contenders that could potentially do the same (Fantastic Beasts, Suicide Squad, Moana and Rogue One) there is a small but very real chance that Batman V Superman winds up outside of the top 10 for the year.
All the way down in 8th place, Broad Green Pictures’ The Infiltrator bombed with just $6.7 million since Wednesday. This is by far the biggest release yet for the new distributor, whose only other three releases are Knight of Cups, The Dark Horse and The Neon Demon, which bombed in wide release just a few weeks ago. With a budget of $47.5 million and a questionable release in just 1,600 theaters, it doesn’t look like The Infiltrator will be able to top $20 million domestically.
Among other holdovers, The Legend of Tarzan finally crossed the century mark with $11 million in its third weekend. This is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year, and could wind up with more than $120 million domestically. The Purge: Election Year is just days away from crossing the total gross of The Purge: Anarchy to become the highest grossing film in the series. With $6 million this weekend, it looks like the surprise horror hit will wind up close to $80 million, far more than originally expected.
Playing in just five theaters, Cafe Society got off to an excellent $355K, with a per theater average of $71K. That’s much higher than Irrational Man from the same weekend last year, but notably lower than Blue Jasmine from 2013, which took in over $100K average in 6 theaters. Still, this is an excellent start, and the film seems widely appealing enough to get some sort of nationwide expansion over the next few weeks. Elsewhere in the limited release market, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party grossed a solid $82.5K from just 3 theaters. That’s a similar number to 2016: Obama’s America from 2012, which grossed around $33K from 1 theater back in 2012. Hillary’s America is expanding into 1,200 theaters next weekend, but hasn’t gotten anywhere near the amount of media attention that 2016 did. The latter ended up grossing over $33 million domestically, making it the second highest grossing political documentary ever, only behind Fahrenheit 9/11 from 2004.