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The Ghostbusters Box Office Update Is Full of Bad News

The bigger they open the quicker they fall.

This is an update on Ghostbusters‘ second weekend box office. For the third weekend box office, head here. For the fourth weekend box office, head here.

Ghostbusters co-screenwriter Katie Dippold told KPCC’s The Frame the film’s box office performance could mean a lot for women in Hollywood:

I remember when I was thinking about doing “The Heat,” I kept hearing from people, Well, don’t pitch that — wait to see how “Bridesmaids” does, or They’re just not going to buy any more female comedies. Which is so crazy to me because it was not that long ago, but it’s still a question. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure right now on the actors. There’s just not a great a lot of great starring roles for women out there. So if for some reason that movie doesn’t do well, then that actor is back to being the guy’s wife with her hand on her hip telling him he’s a troublemaker like a bunch of other movies I never want to see again. All I’m trying to do is just help that cause.

That’s but one reason why there is more interest than usual in Ghostbusters‘ box office. Sony spent $154 million ($144 million after tax rebates) to make and $100 million to market a supernatural comedy in which all the men are idiots and beyond useless and the only way shits get done is when women answer the call. Fair or not, at that budget level and for this genre this is a precedent-setting movie, one whose success or failure will dictate whether anything like this ever happens again with a predominantly female cast.

Which is why it is so remarkably inconvenient that it’s not a very good, or at least not quite as good as it needed to be. To be fair, it has its defenders, and little kids can’t get enough of it. That demographic gave Ghostbusters a 4-1/2 star score last weekend, according to comScore Post Track (via Variety), which certainly lines up with what I’ve witnessed. My 8-year-nephew, for example, defiantly told me, “Did I like it? No. I didn’t like it – I LOVED IT!”

Female-Ghostbusters-Hospital-Visit-August-2015

And these Ghostbusters love their kid fans right back

Yet regardless of the quality of the movie there are those rooting for it to fail, be they men’s rights activists (yes, that’s apparently a thing) or simply children of the 80s and 90s who have finally had enough with Hollywood’s recent obsession with sequels, reboots, revivals, “requels” and any other way of making something old new again instead of trying actual original ideas.

Thus far, neither side has probably been totally satisfied. Ghostbusters opening weekend of $46m wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible either. Pretty good for a live-action supernatural comedy, not nearly high enough for a project with a budget akin to a Marvel Studios superhero movie. It was at least a career high for almost everyone involved. However, as is usually the way with Hollywood blockbusters the bigger they open the quicker they fall (or at least the higher their weekly percentage drops).

Here’s Ghostbusters’ updated domestic box office incorporating its second weekend numbers and comparing them to director Paul Feig’s prior films:

Film

Opening Weekend

Second Weekend

Percent Decline

Eventual Total Domestic Gross

Ghostbusters

$46m

$21m

54.3

?

Spy

$29m

$15.6m

46.3

$110.8m

The Heat

$39.1m

$24.7m

36.7

$159.5m

Bridesmaids

$26.2

$20.8m

20.4

$169.1m

Additionally, its 10-day gross ($86.2m) is identical to The Heat’s, and higher than both Spy ($56m) and Bridesmaids ($59.3m). That’s arguably because Ghostbusters is the most front-loaded of any of Feig’s movies. At its current rate of decline it will fall short of Heat and Bridesmaids, both substantially cheaper movies. In fact, right now it’s profiling closer to Adam Sandler’s Pixels, as Forbes explained:

[54%]’s a sharp fall for a comedy, and dreams of a 3.8-4x multiplier are now out the window. It’s about on par with Pixels (-56% 2nd weekend drop) and The Boss (-58% 2nd weekend drop). So now it’s a question of which of those two precedents matches up. It’s still looking like a cume of $135m-$150m by the time it’s done.

I think we were all hoping for a better second-weekend hold. At least the toys are selling pretty well. Once again, budgets matter. If this film had cost maybe $90m, this would be a very different narrative at work and I don’t think anyone would be sweating bullets. But at $144m, with questionable overseas prospects, yeah, I go onward in fear.

Worldwide, here’s where Ghostbusters sits after 10 days, via BoxOfficeMojo:

Ghostbusters Week 2That includes the $10.5m it took this weekend from a smattering of foreign territories, Australia, the UK and Brazil being the biggest among them. The good news it that major markets like Japan, France Germany, Russia and Italy are either just around the corner or lined up for the end of August. The bad news, though, is that according to IMDB (which, granted, could be wrong) Ghostbusters does not currently have a release date in 4 of the top 10 international box office markets: China (#1), India (#4), South Korea (#5) and Mexico (#9). That break-even point of $300m worldwide is not going to come easy, if at all, although that should have been obvious from Feig’s track record:

Film

Total Domestic

Total International

Total Worldwide

Production Budget

Ghostbusters

?

?

?

$144m

Spy

$110.8m

$124.8m

$235.6m

$65m

The Heat

$159.5m

$70.3m

$229.9m

$43m

Bridesmaids

$169.1m

$119.2m

$288.3m

$32.5m

Just to be clear, I am comparing Ghostbusters to Feig’s prior movies instead of to the first two Ghostbusters movies because those came out in 1984 (back when Columbia Pictures was owned by Coca-Cola) and 1989 (the year Sony purchased Columbia). I don’t see much value in looking back that far for box office comparisons because the way Hollywood makes and releases films as well as the level of competition presented by other media sources has changed so drastically since then. That being said, if you’re curious here are the second weekend drops for the prior Ghostbusters movies: +11.2% for Ghostbusters, -53% for Ghostbusters 2 (pretty much the same as Feig’s Ghostbusters).

ghostbustersprotonSo, what does all of this mean? Mostly that for a movie which cost $144m to make and $100m to market Ghostbusters simply isn’t doing quite as well as it needs to at the domestic box office, and that familiar savior known as the foreign box office simply isn’t kicking in the way they hoped, not yet at least.

Here’s how Ghostbusters compares to recent (2012-present) live-action films with a similar budget ($130m-$160m), regardless of genre or month of release. Take special note of the “Eventual Total Domestic” and “Eventual Total Worldwide” columns. Every one of the films listed, which I have sorted according to 10-day gross, managed to at least double their domestic gross worldwide.

Film

10-Day Domestic

Eventual Total Domestic

Eventual Total Worldwide

Budget

Fast & Furious 6

$171m

$238m

$788m

$160m

Godzilla $148m $200m $529m $160m
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation $107m $195m $682m $150m

Ant-Man

$106m

$180m

$519m

$130m

Prometheus

$89m

$126m

$403m

$130m

The Revenant

$89m

$183m

$532m

$135m

Mad Max: Fury Road

$88m

$153m

$378m

$150m

Ghostbusters

$86m

?

?

$144m

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

$80m

$122m

$375m

$130m

Terminator: Genisys

$59m

$89m

$440m

$155m

Wrath of the Titans

$58m

$83m

$305m

$150m

Dark Shadows

$50m

$79m

$245m

$150m

White House Down

$50m

$73m

$205m

$150m

After Earth

$46m

$60m

$243m

$130m

Full disclosure: This is an imperfect comparison. For one thing, films of different genres (or those at different stages in their franchise history) understandably display differing box office patterns. For example, Ghosbusters having a similar 10-day total as Mad Max and The Revenant doesn’t mean it will have the same legs for the rest of its run. For another thing, you can’t so easily compare a summer release to a movie which came out in March or over Christmas. Plus, while all of these films were in the same production budget range they might have had different marketing budgets and wildly different potentials for secondary revenue from toys and related merchandise.

That being said, after 10 days Ghostbusters profiles closest to G.I. Joe, Mad Max, Prometheus and The Revenant, all of which are considered financially successful movies, even if only marginally so. They respectively relied on the foreign box office for 67%, 59%, 68% and 65% of their worldwide gross. That’s the level Ghostbusters needs to hit.

Yikes. Good luck getting there without China. Actually…

Film

Foreign Gross

Percent from China

Prometheus

$276m

0

The Revenant

$349m

52

Mad Max: Fury Road

$224m

0

Ghostbusters

?

0

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

$253m

63

Well, would you look at that. Neither Prometheus nor Fury Road played in China, and they each compensated by making a killing in the UK as well as other markets, especially Japan for Prometheus and South Korea for Mad Max.

so-youre-telling-me-theres-a-chance-dumb-and-dumber-lloyd-christmas-meme-600x324But those films are of genres (sci-fi action) which travel fairly well internationally, and they came from well-known franchises. Ghostbusters is considered an American comedy, which tend to struggle overseas, and while it too comes from a well-known franchise it’s not one with any real track record at the foreign box office, which is similar to Mad Max but completely unlike the Alien movies. Plus, Ghostbusters only has a little under $6m from the UK after two weeks, and by this time next week it will be out of the top 5.

1819m3Let’s try to go out on a positive note. After all, Mattel says the toy sales have “exceeded expectations.” Yay! Although they declined to provide any actual sales figures. Um, still yay? Ivan Reitman told Vulture, “Look, there have been all kinds of series that have continued after [one movie] has not worked.” So, even if they lose money they might (and I heavily emphasize might) make a funnier Ghostbusters sequel at a lower cost just to keep the toy and merchandise sales rolling in? It feels kind of weird to give that one a “Yay!” Reitman also also said, “It’s always better when they do work.” Well duh.

Sources: Forbes, BoxOfficeMojo

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About Kelly Konda (1817 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

7 Comments on The Ghostbusters Box Office Update Is Full of Bad News

  1. The “$300 million to break even” thing was Sony spin. That is what Sony VERY OPTIMISTICALLY calculated as the break-even point when including revenue from merchandising (which despite Mattel’s “better than expectations” claim won’t be much), streaming/VOD/DVD and other after-market and ancillaries. As movie studios only get 50% of the box office take (the theater gets the other half), $300 million would only represent slightly more than double the $144 million production budget. It certainly does not include the advertising and promotion costs, which were originally $100 million but ballooned even more with last minute ad buys and promotions. Paul Feig’s claims that the movie would need to make $500 million worldwide to be profitable from box office receipts alone is more accurate, and even that does not account for the last-minute P&A expenses, as Feig made that statement in May. Also, Sony’s believing that they can get $200 million on merchandising and after-market revenue on a movie that only made $300 million in the global box office is optimistic at best. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 has made $235 million worldwide and Paramount states that they haven’t even been able to find takers for its streaming/VOD rights.

    Instead of considering whether this movie will break even, the questions should be:

    1) whether Ghostbusters or Central Intelligence (which should top out at about $130 million) will finish as the highest-grossing live action comedy of the summer. Seriously .. Ghostbusters is seeing daily and weekend declines of 55%-60% and has a lot of competition in coming weeks such as Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad. Meanwhile Central Intelligence opened smaller but had much better CinemaScore ratings and far smaller daily and weekend declines. G

    2. The writedown that Sony will take – and conceal for as long as possible – on this film. At least $50 million, possibly as much as $150 million.

  2. Also, the fact that China refused to show it has really hurt international box-office numbers.

    • lemoncackles // July 27, 2016 at 4:26 PM // Reply

      Though the studio knew China was no go from the start. There is a blanket policy to ban all movies about anything supernatural.

      • Which makes it all the more surprising that they greenlit this with such a big budget, one which Tom Rothman widdled down as much as he could after inheriting the project from Amy Pascal. They knew they would be shut out of the second biggest market for film in the world, yet Pascal still wanted to make this as a $169m movie, which Rothman got down to $144m. That just seems like a fiscally imprudent decision. Yes, there have been movies of a similar budget level to do well internationally without China (e.g., Prometheus, Fury Road), but they were of genres which traveled better than comedy.

  3. “Yet regardless of the quality of the movie there are those rooting for it to fail, be they men’s rights activists (yes, that’s apparently a thing)…” That statement sums up part of the reason for its failure. Some online reviewer gives his reasons for deciding not to view the film and says nothing about an all female cast and then the studio decides to make it a feminist vs. misogynist narrative. The movie already has issues but I don’t think that they improved their chances by going that route.

    • Completely agreed. I previously touched on that a little bit in a prior article (http://wp.me/p39B8E-6IL), and ComicBookGirl 19 on YouTube actually had a pretty spot-on assessment of it.

      Basically, Sony took a couple of isolated social media incidents and spun this into an us against them narrative, one which conveniently made them the victims and the faceless, nameless blob of easily mocked (e.g., just a bunch of sad losers living in their mom’s basements) humanity the villain. That’s the type of story which plays well on the talk show circuit and on nightly newscasts because it is easily digestable and invites your sympathy for actors you already like. To be fair, there absolutely is truth to the claims of misogyny being at the heart of many a fan’s reaction. However, Ghostbusters is just as if not more so about film fans simply having reached peak reboot/sequel/requel/tired Hollywood franchise film-making at this point, and then the studio is dismissing all of those valid arguments and calling them a bunch of loser sexists? No wonder the backlash grew. To be fair, in the weeks before the release Paul Feig gave several interviews where he acknowledged the backlash was more complex than “they’re all sexists,” but it was too little, too late, I think.

  4. TOTAL FLOP. Couldn’t happen to a more obnoxious bunch of leftists. Talentless careers destroyed and Eat that 100 million lol.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now – We Minored in Film
  2. Ghostbusters Week 4 Box Office Update – We Minored in Film

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