When these elements are combined, it suggests Sony Pictures can rebuild positivity around the Ghostbusters brand… even though Ghostbusters: Afterlife opened smaller than the 2016 Ghostbusters remake starring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, and which was directed by Paul Feig. That movie premiered amidst a cacophony of toxic and frankly misogynistic vitriol five years ago, with the all-women cast being derided to venomous proportions on social media. Still, it opened at $46 million in its first three days.
The difference of perceptions in their level of success, however, has as much to do with the expectations each film had going into opening weekend, as well as the budget supporting them. Ghostbusters ’16 was intended to be a much splashier summer blockbuster released at the height of July and off the back of a massive $144 million budget, as well as a vast marketing campaign. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was budgeted at nearly half that cost, with a much more modest $75 million price tag. Anecdotally, its marketing and publicity costs appear to also be less expansive.
And for better or worse, audiences are responding more positively to the 2021 film, with the “A-” CinemaScore beating out the not-great (although not a disaster) “B+” score assigned to the 2016 film. Of course the true test might be how Afterlife holds up in the coming weeks. Given its broader appeal to families, the film looks well positioned as the biggest blockbuster entertainment for the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Assuming Afterlife can maintain a small box office drop over the next weekend and continue to perform at healthy levels, the film may be looked at as a successful rebranding, and one that could make an interesting comparison with the year’s other franchise reset that came after a contentious 2016 film: The Suicide Squad.
Be that as it may, it seems Reitman’s hope to at the very least continue the (more cost effective) adventures of his young cast of characters is on the table after this weekend. A jolly holiday, indeed, for Sony.
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