As of Aug. 7, Ghostbusters had earned just under $180 million at the global box office, including $117 million domestic. The film still hasn’t opened in a few markets, including France, Japan and Mexico, but box-office experts say it will have trouble getting to $225 million despite a hefty net production budget of $144 million plus a big marketing spend. The studio has said break-even would be $300 million.
Sony hardly is alone in suffering from audience rejection of sequels this summer. But film chief Tom Rothman and his team, along with partner Village Roadshow, had high hopes for launching a live-action Ghostbusters “universe.” Now they are preparing for steep losses (think $70 million-plus) and an uncertain future for the franchise.
Aww, that sucks. The Ghostbusters reboot really grew on me, and when I heard a Sony rep saying a sequel was all but locked-in I was hopeful for more.
Feig hasn’t said whether he’ll return. Stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are said to be signed for two potential sequels, and initially they said they were game. But now? “Ghostbusters is on ice until further notice,” says box-office analyst Jeff Bock. “I just can’t fathom the creative talents behind it — Feig, McCarthy, Wiig, etc. — slogging out another one when the reception to the first one was so mediocre.”
Wait, “mediocre?” “Slogging out another one?” Something’s a bit off here…
Sony disputes the amount of the potential loss, insisting that revenue streams from merchandising and such attractions as a new Ghostbusters exhibit at Madame Tussauds and a theme park ride in Dubai will help defray any deficit. The studio also notes that the number of people renting the 1984 film has soared over the summer.
“This loss calculation is way off,” says the Sony rep. “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.”
… Let’s see if I have this straight. A number of external observers are wailing about how Sony is losing massive amounts of money; Sony themselves dispute this, and seem keen to push forward based on the reception of Ghostbusters 2016.
a rep says the studio actively is pursuing an animated Ghostbusters feature that could hit theaters in 2019 and an animated TV series, Ghostbusters: Ecto Force, which is eyeing an early 2018 bow. Both are being guided by Reitman, who firmly is back in charge of the Ghostbusters empire via Ghost Corps., a subsidiary with a mandate to expand the brand across platforms.
When attempting to start a franchise or reboot one, better to underperform slightly on a good/well-liked film with popular characters, in particular with a decent/leggy domestic take, than to over perform with a bad film containing not terribly beloved characters. If the legs match up with the relatively good buzz, specifically for the characters and the actors, this may be more of a Batman Begins than a Superman Returns. Chris Nolan and J.J. Abrams both got big-budget sequels even after their well-received reboot-ers did well domestic but poorly overseas. The case can be made that Ghostbusters deserves a second shot at becoming the “real” Ghostbusters for a generation of fans.
That’s a fair take, there’s a lot more to earning a sequel than just earning back funds. If Ivan Reitman wants to push Ghostbusters merchandise and spin-offs, he’s got to keep the core of the franchise hot, and that means pushing out another live-action movie.
Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins earned just $371 million on a $150m budget for Warner Bros., with $205m of that coming from North American box office. But it received rave reviews, a leggy theatrical run, and strong DVD sales. It inspired genuine excitement for what would come next in this specific incarnation of the Batman mythos. J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek was a massive domestic hit in 2009 for Paramount/Viacom Inc. It earned $256m domestic and was seen as a successful rebooting of the brand. It also struggled overseas with a final global take of just $385m on a $150m budget. See also Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger, which earned $371m on a $140m budget. Because audiences and fans liked the characters/actors involved in this reboot, sequels to those films were inevitable.
As I type this, Ghostbusters has earned $116.6m + $179.4m across domestic and international markets, out of an estimated budget of $144m. That $296.0m is still shy of what other successful franchises have managed, but it’s been enough to satisfy Sony. Other movies have done comparably, yet earned a sequel.
Even as a “Pacific Rim” detractor, it’s hard not to be impressed with the film’s opening weekend. Guillermo Del Toro’s blockbuster creature feature grossed $38.3 million over the three-day weekend, about $1 million more than “Oblivion” managed back in April — and that one had Tom Cruise’s name above the title and little relevant competition. “Pacific Rim” is already at over $90 million worldwide, and should easily surpass $200 million in global ticket sales when all is said and done (it might even crest above $250 million). For a movie with no stars and no pre-sold brand, that’s really good.
The issue, of course, is that Del Toro spent a reported $190 million to make “Pacific Rim” — not counting the untold millions forked over by Warner Bros. for marketing — meaning the film needed to do a lot better than place third during its opening weekend in North America.
Warcraft might also earn a sequel, too, despite losing money.
Look: it’s easy to read yourself into things. Hated Ghostbusters? Then you’ll be primed to look at the box office numbers and read failure into it. Loved it? Then you’ll hunt for a positive angle in the same numbers. Reality is more complicated than that; Ghostbusters did well, but may not turn a profit. It may earn a sequel, it may not, but either way we’ve got a movie we can ignore or fawn over. I side with Mendelson on this one.
No matter what I thought of the film, the fact remains that the pressures on this movie, by virtue of being a pathetically rare big-budget fantasy franchise featuring women in the lead roles, are disproportionate. If the film bombs, the conventional wisdom will be that it will make it harder for more of its ilk to get green-lit. No, I don’t mean more big-budget nostalgia-driven franchise reboots. I mean more big-budget blockbusters starring women. What is actually “at stake” is the still insane notion that women are box office poison. […]
We shouldn’t still be having this conversation, but we are. Every time a big female-driven hit comes out, it’s written off as a fluke, and every time the next one comes down the pike it is held up as a glorified litmus test. We still shouldn’t be looking at every big-budget female-driven offering as a litmus test. […]
While I am rooting for the film and would love for it to prove the naysayers wrong, there is a difference between my hopes that it will be a big hit and my fears over what will happen if it’s not. Paul Feig and Katie Dippold’s Ghostbusters has a right to be every right to fail without it being used as evidence that the notion of female-driven big-budget fantasies is inherently a bad idea. We’ll know soon enough how the film plays around the world. But the consequences for a failed Ghostbusters reboot should be no different from Zoolander 2 or Terminator Genisys.