It’s never been entirely clear how lucrative ghost busting is, as a business. Sure, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray charged a pretty penny for hotel de-ghosting back in the day, but it’s not like backpack-mounted particle accelerators come cheap. And the fact that the entire planet seems to forget about the proven existence of the afterlife in this universe every couple of years can’t help the word-of-mouth side of things.
The Ghostbusters business, meanwhile, has been a lot more straightforward: All three extant movies in the franchise have made between $200 million and $300 million at the box office—a feat that was a lot more impressive in 1984 than it was in 1989, and way more so than the lackluster blockbuster showing that Paul Feig’s movie got in 2016.
Enter, then, Jason Reitman’s new nostalgia exercise Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which opened in theaters this weekend, and looks to be facing a better-than-expected opening engagement. THR reports that the film is expected to beat projections and bring in $40 million this weekend. That’s not huge, even by COVID numbers—big performers like Venom and No Time To Die opened in the $50 million to $70 million range—but it’s still going to make it the top performer of the weekend as we head toward Thanksgiving.
The most positive news here, for the film industry as a whole, is that Reitman’s film appears to be the kid-catcher that Clifford, the large red dog-monster, failed to be. Maybe it’s the recent approval of COVID-19 vaccines for kids age 5 and up; maybe it’s just that Reitman has finally given this very adult franchise the child-forward treatment its marketing department has been begging for since the first Ecto-1 toy got sold; either way, families are coming out for this thing, and families move movie tickets.
(The more adult-focused King Richard, meanwhile, is doing quite a bit worse, opening to a $1.9 million Friday, and expected to under-performer to the tune of $5.5 million. Maybe kids prefer to watch their inspirational tennis dramas on HBO Max.)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife stars Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, and Mckenna Grace, and—we feel obligated to eternally note—heavily features a child who insists that people call him “Podcast.”