JASON REITMANS AFFECTIONATE SEQUEL SURPASSED EVEN ITS OWN STUDIOS MODEST PREDICTIONS TO SCORE A SOLID $44 MILLION OPENING ON THE WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 19-21, 2021.
Between critics railing over it being nothing but nostalgic fan service and its own studio lowballing expectations, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was not having a great week. Even with a solid $4.5 million in Thursday previews – a number that normally meant a $40-$50 million-plus opening – analysts were guesstimating a number in the low 30s while Sony itself predicted a potential $28 million start. Alas, Afterlife may not have set any records, but it should get the headlines it wanted this weekend as everyone writes how it rose from its dead expectations. That might be damning it with faint praise since, with the holiday season upon us and 10% of the nation’s five- to 11-year-olds getting their first shots, Ghostbusters could be primed to become one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
KING OF THE CROP: GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE DEFIES EXPECTATIONS WITH $44 MILLION DEBUT
Ghostbusters: Afterlife took in an estimated $44 million over the weekend, which is the ninth-best opening of the year. At least one of the films on that list is not going to reach $100 million (Halloween Kills) and one appears it will just barely reach it (Dune). Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters reboot – not without its share of stupid fan controversy – opened to just over $46 million that summer and had a not-so-great 2.78 multiple to $127.9 million total. Sony either missed a giant boat this time around by not keeping Afterlife on its original Nov. 11 date (or simply moving it to that Friday, Nov. 12), or it may have created some great momentum going into the Thanksgiving holiday.
No film that has opened in November to over $37 million has failed to gross over $100 million, so there’s a good starting point for Afterlife. Also, no film (aside from the “R”-rated 8 Mile) began with over $40 million and failed to reach $125 million. That’s a number that would put Afterlife ahead of this summer’s Free Guy. Granted, most of these statistics are pre-pandemic, but the current numbers are starting to show a consistency that can just as easily translate to these expectations. Afterlife’s numbers this weekend are similar to Free Guy’s in another way, given its uptake from its Thursday/Friday numbers: Only 36.83% of Free Guy’s opening weekend came from those first day totals. Ghostbusters: Afterlife’s first day represented only 37.5% of its weekend gross. Rounding out the best percentages this year for films that opened over $20 million are Red Notice (35.86%), Last Night in Soho (38.43%), Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage (39.01%) and Eternals (39.13%).
Afterlife only needs to get to $75 million by the end of next weekend to stay on that $125 million pace ($90 million is very realistic), and aside from Encanto’s holiday release, families will not have any new options of any sort until Spider-Man: Far From Home on Dec. 17 and Sing 2 five days later. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is going to be a top five film until just before Christmas, and unless Encanto and/or Sing 2 proves that animated films are back, West Side Story draws in a larger crowd than expected, or HBO Max experiences mass outages around Christmas, Spidey may be the only film to outgross Ghostbusters going forward. Therefore if all of the above plays in its favor, it will become one of the ten highest-grossing films of 2021.