Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife turned in a $16.1M Saturday, which is very close to the amount of cash that Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters grossed on its second day of release, all of this amounting to a $44M opening weekend. That’s great, and the sequel blew up in the heartland, which is a great indicator of families coming out in the holiday week ahead, especially with its dynamite audience exits.
Comscore reports that 41% K-12 schools are off tomorrow and 16% colleges. That grows to 80% K-12 and 61% college on break by Wednesday, before both are 100% off Thursday and Friday. While the debut for the Jason Reitman edition is slightly lighter than Feig’s, which saw a domestic start of $46M; that’s really nothing to wince about
.Meanwhile, the second wide release of the weekend, Warner Bros.’ Will Smith movie King Richard, was far from a grand slam with $5.7M. More on that HBO Max day-and-date theatrical release further down. Box office firm EntTelligence clocked 3.5M people who watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife this weekend to date, while King Richard had under 500K moviegoers. Ghostbusters: Afterlife saw 33% of its audience arrive before 4PM on Saturday, another solid indicators of family business (Mr. Bob Chapek, please note, there’s no reason to continue a hybrid release strategy at Disney). Again, as we mentioned further down, there were 3.5x more programmed seats for Ghostbusters: Afterlife than King Richard, which is due to more showtimes and larger auditoriums being given to the Sony movie.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife played best in the West, Midwest and Southwest. This opposed to King Richard, which only played on the coasts, and not in between, which isn’t surprising. Nine of the top ten for Afterlife were in the West and heartland, the latter which overindexed greatly. Salt Lake City, St. Louis, and Kansas City markets overindexed. Get a load of the top-ten grossing movie theaters 1.) AMC Burbank, 2.) AMC Dine-IN Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, Fl, 3.) Harkins Estrella Falls in Goodyear, AZ, 4.) Harkins Mountain Grove 16 in Redlands, CA; 5.) Santikos Casa Blanca in San Antonio, TX; 6.) AMC Citywalk at Universal City, 7.) The Regal Warren 14 in Moore, OK, 8.) Cinemark 16 in Harlingen, TX, 9) Santikos Palladium in San Antonio and 10.) AMC Orange in CA. B&B Theatres’ Liberty, MO theater in the Kansas City DMA ranked No. 20.
Imax and PLF screens drove 33% of the weekend box office. $3.7M at 403 auditoriums was earned by Imax in U.S. and Canada.
In addition to the CinemaCon and New York Comic-Con previews, Sony rolled out a bespoke marketing campaign that spoke to both young and old Ghostbuster fans, in order to lure them out. There was a TikTok Duets video with influencers worldwide singing the movie’s Ray Parker Jr. classic song.
There was a special sports spot with the pic’s star Paul Rudd and Travis Kelce where the former traded a proton pack for a football from Kansas City Chiefs tight end and has to try and get it back.
In New York and LA, there were Ecto-1 car parades through high-traffic Halloween spots, including rooftop holograms.
Sony took over Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles, with the iconic donut-shaped sign transformed into the “no ghosts” Ghostbusters logo and free Ghostbusters donuts given out and delivered to press and influencers.
The studio tapped into the crypto sphere with “12 Days of Afterlife” Ghostbusters Mini-Puft NFTs. Conceived by Jason Reitman, scribe Gil Kenan, and artists Quentin Chaillet and Vochelle Yum, fans received access to high-quality and authentic Ghostbusters NFT collectibles. There were ten unique vignettes dropped over ten days from Nov. 8, and 10,5K additional collectible Mini-Pufts dropped on Nov. 18.
For the sequel, there were all-new licensing collaborations across apparel, publishing, toys, and collectibles, home goods, seasonal, gaming, interactive games and more, culminating in the brand’s biggest consumer program of all-time around the world.
Hasbro, the original toy partner of the film from 1986-1991, touted a toy lineup that included the Ghostbusters Proton Blaster M.O.D., Ghostbusters Kenner Classics Ecto-1 and Ghostbusters Plasma Series 6-Inch Figures. Hasbro also introduced its first Ghostbusters HasLab project, which gave fans the opportunity to get their hands on a Ghostbusters Plasma Series Spengler’s Proton Pack.
Imprezario Entertainment has the AR Ghostbusters: Afterlife ScARe game which dropped on Friday. Epic Games launched a Ghostbusters: Afterlife Fortnite in-game integration, where fans completed a series of movie-themed quests in order to unlock a free Ghostbusters back bling.
Lego provided wider distribution of its ECTO-1 toy (it’s been out there for some time). Reebok even had a line of footwear.
Among the film’s promo partners were family quick service restaurant Zaxby’s which sold Mini Pufts and Ghostbusters-themed Cherry-Grape Blaster drink. Coca-Cola dropped an exclusive commemorative bottle of the iconic Hi-C juice Ecto Cooler, which was released in 1989. Hi-C Ecto Cooler didn’t hit store shelves, but was received by a select number of influencers.
The Ad Council, as part of their Ready.gov emergency preparedness campaign, featured Ghostbusters: Afterlife in a promotion to help consumers prepare for unexpected weather and other emergency events. Messaging was seen in a 30-second national PSA spot and outdoor advertising.
Popcorn brand Pop Secret launched a digital and social campaign with limited edition film-themed packaging. In addition to an on-shelf presence at Target and Kroger, Pop Secret placed Ghostbusters-themed end aisle displays in all North American Walmart locations throughout the month of October.
As far as King Richard, and any concern of its box office curtailing its awards season prospects, here’s a sober assessment: the pic has great audience exits, and word of mouth, and for those awards season voters at home who have HBO Max, they’re getting the film delivered to them directly. Perhaps those who didn’t want to venture out to cinemas due to Covid will have the patience to watch this two-hour, 24 minute drama at home. Even without the pandemic and the HBO Max of it all, King Richard, like Smith’s previous sports drama Concussion, would have faced challenges: The movie plays best on the coasts and not in the heartland.
Also, King Richard is a tennis film — not exactly the type of sport that creates a stampede at the box office. Searchlight’s 2017 Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell ended its domestic run at $12.6M; hopefully King Richard can beat that score. Warners was smart here in launching this critically acclaimed and audience pleasing movie during the holiday moviegoing week.
Sony pulled off a similar plan with Concussion, opening that film on Christmas Day 2015, which resulted in a $10.5M opening stateside and a final domestic of $34.5M. While Smith has promoted the film to his 176M-plus fans across Twitter, Instagram and his YouTube channel per RelishMix, some awards marketing sources have critiqued they’d like to see him out there pushing the film a bit more; the actor currently pushing his new book Will.
King Richard‘s audience was 59% female on PostTrak, 81% over 25, 41% over 45 with African Americans repping 40% of ticket buyers, Caucasians 36%, Hispanic and Latino 15% and Asian/other at 9%. Those under 25 gave it an A+ on CinemaScore (20% of the audience), while it received As throughout.
Bright spots at the arthouse: the old plan of launching movies in NY and LA actually worked this past weekend, with A24’s Mike Mills-directed Joaquin Phoenix black and white drama C’mon C’mon, which posted $134K at five locations for a great $26,8K theater average, the best limited launch since February 2020. A24 had the movie booked at New York’s Angelika and Lincoln Square and LA’s AMC The Grove, Landmark on Pico and AMC Burbank. The movie, which follows a radio journalist who embarks on a cross-country trip with his young nephew, is 92% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Bleecker Street’s India Sweets and Spices debuted in 343 runs in 91 markets and we hear the movie didn’t do so well with $172,5K and a per screen of $503. The pic is 78% fresh on RT. The Geeta Malik-directed movie follows college freshman Alia, who returns home for the summer and discovers secrets and lies in her parents’ past that make her question everything she thought she knew about her family.
Pre-Thanksgiving chart for Nov. 19-21, according to studio numbers:
1.) Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) 4,315 theaters, Fri $16.5M/Sat $16.1M/Sun $11.3M/3-day: $44M/Wk 1
2.) Eternals (Dis) 4,055 theaters (-35), Fri $3.07M (-61%)/Sat $4.85M/Sun $2.9M/3-day $10.8M (-60%), Total $135.8M/Wk 3
3.) Clifford the Big Red Dog (Par) 3,628 (-72) theaters, Fri $2M (-53%)/Sat $3.6M/Sun $2.5M/3-day $8.1M (51%), Total $33.5M/Wk 2
4.) King Richard (WB) 3,302 theaters, Fri $1.9M, Sat $2.1M, Sun $1.6M/ 3-day $5.7M/Wk 1
5.) Dune (WB/Leg) 2,467 (-815) theaters, Fri $885K (-46%)/Sat $2.1M/Sun $1.6M/3-day $3M (-45%) Total $98.2M/Wk 5
6.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 2,230 (-308) theaters, Fri $755K, Sat $1.28M, Sun $765K, 3-day $2.8M (-29%), Total $206.5M/Wk 8
7.) No Time to Die (UAR) 2,407 (-460) theaters, Fri $791K (-43%), Sat $1.19M, Sun $718K, 3-day $2.7M (-40%), Total $154.7M/Wk 7
8.) The French Dispatch (Sea) 805 (-420) theaters, Fri $294K (-46%), Sat $422K, Sun $254K, 3-day $970K (-45%), Total $13.3M/Wk 5
9.) Belfast (Foc) 584 (+2) theaters, Fri $280K (-57%), Sat $400K, Sun $260K, 3-day $940K (-47%), Total $3.4M/Wk 2
10.) Ron’s Gone Wrong (20th/Dis) 1,520 (-910) Fri $210K (-62%), Sat $432K, Sun $246K, 3-day $888K (-59%), Total $22.1M/Wk 5
11.) Spencer (NEON) Fri $211K, Sat $290K, Sun $188,7K, 3-day $690K (-54%), Total $6.1M/Wk 3