Almost 40 years after Ghostbusters became a smash hit one that launched a lucrative franchise spanning film television and video Sony is proving the business of busting ghosts need not be a relic of the past.
Ghostbusters Afterlife the latest big-screen installment in the comedy sci fi property collected $44 million in its domestic box office debut a solid start in unpredictable pandemic times. The drop in ticket sales between its first and second weekend in theaters will be an important indication of audiences affinity for all things paranormal but at least for now positive reviews and a healthy dose of nostalgia appear to be a winning mix for Sony. Its an important victory for the studio after it failed in 2016 to revive the decades old series.David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research called the opening weekend results excellent and notes that with four installments Ghostbusters is currently the longest-running action comedy franchise. He predicts that ticket sales for Afterlife will encourage Sony to forge ahead with new installments. The series is set to break ground and continue into the future Gross adds.
For Sony the stronger-than-expected launch of Afterlife could not come at a better time. Pandemic or not audiences have been gravitating to action packed tentpoles and shying away from mid budget comedies and dramas. That has made traditional studios ever more reliant on popular franchises the kind that can spawn sequels reboots and offshoots. Sony has found success through Spider Man characters which it licenses from Marvel Studios but outside of Venom and everyone’s favorite web slinger the studio has revisited some of its biggest properties to mixed results. The 2017 Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle 962 million globally and its sequel 2019s “The Next Level 800 million globally as well as its 2020 threequel Bad Boys for Life 426 million globally were commercial triumphs thanks to the unmatched chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in the former and Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the latter.
But 2019s Charlies Angels million worldwide Men in Black International 253 million worldwide failed to recapture the magic of the originals and flopped at the box office. Retreads from other studios like Paramounts Terminator Dark Fate and Universals The Mummy with Tom Cruise were other high profile attempts that fell flat in theaters. Even before COVID-19 upended the moviegoing landscape Hollywood had been finding out the hard way that familiar properties do not necessarily translate into box office glory. Its something Warner Bros. will test in December with The Matrix Resurrections the fourth entry in the sci fi series that has not had a new chapter in theaters since 2003.Audiences are becoming very selective because they have so many options available at home says Paul Dergarabedian a senior media analyst at Comscore.