Despite early enthusiasm from Sony executives about the franchise and shared-universe potential springing from Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, the film’s estimated $75 million box office loss seems to have put the nail in the coffin of a live-action sequel. The 2016 release currently has a domestic box office take just north of $117 million with a disappointing $62.8 million from the international market; it will expand into Spain and Japan within the next week or so, but being banned from playing in China certainly hasn’t helped.
As THR reports, estimates have the film’s total topping out at around $225 million; the $144 million production budget and the substantial size of the film’s marketing budget suggest a $300 million break-even point. Sony execs have yet to officially cancel plans for a live-action sequel, but they have commented on moving forward with an animated Ghostbusters feature that could hit theaters as early as 2019, and a new animated TV series titled Ghostbusters: Ecto Force due in 2018.
The new animated TV series “will further expand the Ghostbusters cinematic universe and focus on a new generation of Ghostbusters in the year 2050 who capture ghosts around the world with help from local teams—and some very cool gear,” according to a press release. Ivan Reitman is heading up the production through his Ghost Corps. production company. So while Ghostbusters: Ecto Force looks to distance itself from the live-action reboot, there are still some questions to be answered when it comes to finalizing plans for the brand’s live-action universe.
A studio rep told THR: “We’re very proud of the bold movie Paul Feig made, which critics and audiences loved. It has enlivened a 30-year-old brand and put it into the modern zeitgeist. As a result, we have many ideas in the works to further exploit the Ghostbusters universe.” Stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are reportedly signed on for two potential sequels, but that doesn’t mean a thing until the studio gives the project the greenlight. As it stands, Paul Feigprobably wouldn’t return to helm a potential sequel since he recently came out as firmly against directing another reboot of a classic:
“No, no, no. No, I will not. This one was just too tempting because I knew we could do something with it that was exciting.”
And considering the backlash from a very vocal group of folks who wanted nothing to do with Feig, his actors, or the reboot itself, I wouldn’t blame any of them if they chose to walk away. However, the Sony rep also argued that these current estimates for the reboot’s losses are way off when merchandising and other revenue streams are factored in:
“This loss calculation is way off. 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.”