Box Office

Ghostbusters Week 4 Box Office Update

This is the week 4 update. For week 2,  head here. For week 3, head here.

Another Ghostbusters box office update article? As American Public Media’s Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal might say, cue the sad trombone music.

To very briefly recap: The movie opened to good, but not great numbers, at least not great for a movie which cost $144m to make. Then it dropped more than it should. Then it kept dropping faster than it should. Now it’s nearly out of the box office top 10 (came in at #9 this weekend) even though it’s only been out for 4 weeks. Meanwhile, its gradual international rollout is netting so-so business, giving the whole thing the feel of a pretty big whiff on Sony’s part.


Ghostbusters Week 4


After Ghostbusters’ opening set career highs for nearly everyone involved, it plunged on par with Adam Sandler’s Pixels and Melissa McCarthy’s The Boss in its second weekend, two somewhat comparable, recent comedies. It’s been falling faster than either of them ever since.


2nd Weekend Decline

3rd Weekend Decline

4th Weekend Decline

5th Weekend Decline






The Boss










Insert obligatory reminder that both The Boss and Pixels cost at least $60m less to make then Ghostbusters.

In comparison to the rest of the summer’s big movies, Ghostbusters is actually falling closer to Independence Day: Resurgence, which had 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekend declines of 59.3%, 53.5% and 54.7%. Sony would surely love it if Ghostbusters could at least rebound enough in its final weeks to squeak out another $10m just so they could then say they had the highest-grossing live-action comedy of the summer, topping Central Intelligence‘s $125m. However, if Ghostbusters keeps dropping in 50% intervals it might actually fall just short of that, and that’s pretty much much the worst case scenario you could have predicted after the film debuted to $46m.

Insert obligatory reminder that Central Intelligence cost nearly $100m less to make than Ghostbusters.

On the positive side, Ghostbusters has at least eclipsed Spy‘s $110m domestic gross from last year, thus  passing director Paul Feig’s most recent film

Insert obligatory reminder that Spy cost $80m less to make than Ghostbusters, and Feig’s other two movies, Bridesmaids and The Heat, topped out in the $160m-$170m range domestically.

Like I said, cue the sad trombone music.

I’ve also been comparing Ghostbusters to other recent (2011-present) live-action films with similar budget levels ($135m-$150m) to get a better a sense of where movies like this need to be at certain points in their release cycle to approach (perceived) profitability. As I explained in more detail last week, this is a knowingly flawed comparison for a wide variety of reasons, but the main takeaway is that Ghostbusters is quite clearly not a domestic hit on the level of a Marvel movie or Mission Impossible sequel nor is it quite a Dark Shadows or Wrath of the Titans-level flop. What it is is a movie in desperate need of a considerable international boost:


24-Day Domestic

Eventual Total Domestic

Eventual Total Worldwide


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)





Thor (2011)





Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)





Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)





The Revenant (2015)





Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)










Wrath of the Titans (2012)





Dark Shadows (2012)





White House Down (2013)






And that international boost isn’t really materializing yet. According to Deadline:

The Sony pic added $6.4M this weekend with Germany getting its first glimpse at the team for $1.4M. It was the top opener in the market that is led by Pets. The international cume to date has climbed to $62.8M. Russia added $765K in its 2nd weekend from 2,282 screens, which brings its cume to $4.2M. Australia dipped by 49% in the 4th frame for a local cume of $8.6M. Still on deck to be slimed are France, Mexico, Spain, Japan and Korea.

It’s already playing in 5 of the top 10 international box office markets, #’s 2 (UK), 4 (India), 7 (Germany), 8 (Australia) and 10 (Russia), and it’s not making any real significant noise in any of them. Will Japan, South Korea, France and Mexico make much of a difference in the weeks to come? They are, respectively speaking, the third, fifth, sixth and ninth biggest international territories for film. So, there’s that.

Sidenote: One thing I’ve learned from writing these box office updates is IMDB release dates are not to be trusted. When I checked the site 3 weeks ago it indicated Ghostbusters did not have release dates in South Korea, India or Mexico. Either Sony quickly changed that or IMDB simply struggles to keep up with tracking a film’s release date in every single region of the world, a likely daunting task I’d imagine if not aided directly by the involved studio(s).

Ghostbusters’ so-so international performance thus far can’t be explained away as, “Well, they were denied access to the second biggest film market in the world.” Because there have been similar budgeted films  (i.e., the $150m Fury Road, the $130m Prometheus) to get by without China in recent years. Here’s how they fared in the same major markets as Ghostbusters at the same points in their release cycle:













Fury Road












To be clear, that’s where each film stood in the UK and Australia after 4 weeks, in India and Russia after 2 weeks and in Germany after 1 weekend. As you can see, Ghostbusters just isn’t catching on in any of those markets, certainly not on par with Fury Road and Prometheus.

If Ghostbusters were a patient at a hospital, it would be coding right now, and most doctors would be ready to call the time of death. However, there’s always that one newbie unwilling to concede defeat, unless ER lied to us all those years. That ambitious, devilishly handsome or TV gorgeous doctor would persist in delivering chest compression and/or yell out “Clear!” before each hit from the defibrillator.

Keeping with that analogy, the only defibrillator hits Ghostbusters might have left are South Korea and Japan. Fury Road made $27.6m in the former, its biggest total from any foreign market; Prometheus pulled in $21.8m from the latter, its second biggest total from any foreign market behind the UK. Of course, those are both very different kinds of films than Ghostbusters in terms of genre and content. Still, Prometheus and Fury Road were each revivals of long-dormant film franchises, they both cost around the same as Ghostbusters and they each had to make do at the box office without the benefit of China. Heck, Prometheus even ended up with a domestic gross ($126m) in the same range of where Ghostbusters appears to be headed. And, in the end, Prometheus and Fury Road won out by doing big business in places like the UK, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Japan. So far, Ghostbusters is 0 for 3. It’ll have to set all kinds of records in South Korea and Japan to make up for that.

That’s it. I’m calling it. Time of death…

“With multiple revenue streams, including consumer products, gaming, location-based entertainment, continued international rollout, and huge third-party promotional partnerships that mitigated costs, the bottom line, even before co-financing, is not remotely close to that number.”

Wait. What’s that now?  In the time since I originally published this article, THR ran their own piece projecting a $70m write-off for Ghostbusters, and citing anonymous insiders who claim the studio is shelving the live-action franchise for now in favor of pursuing both an animated feature film and new animated TV series to arrive in 2019 and 2018 respectively. When asked to comment, a Sony rep. released the above statement disputing the $70m loss projection, and further pointed to “a new Ghostbusters exhibit at Madame Tussauds and a theme park ride in Dubai” as revenue sources which will help make-up for the film’s box office failings. Furthermore, the studio is also currently enjoying a significant uptick in rentals and purchases of the original 1984 film.

So, really, there might be no need to pay attention to this new Ghostbusters‘ box office anymore because it sounds like its fate has already been sealed, and Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig can move on with their careers separately or together but just not as Ghostbusters.

Sources: Deadline, BoxOfficeMojo


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