Ghostbusters Appears to Find an Audience

Like other dramas, King Richard opens modestly
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 21, 2021 2:30 PM CST
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Overwhelms King Richard
Muncher in a scene from "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."   (Sony Pictures via AP)

Busting ghosts is still a fairly lucrative business after almost 40 years. Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, the latest attempt to revive Ghostbusters drew a sizable audience to theaters, while the awards darling King Richard, like most dramas in the pandemic era, is struggling. Featuring a reverence for nostalgia and a few high-profile cameos, Ghostbusters: Afterlife opened above industry expectations with $44 million in ticket sales from 4,315 locations, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Sony movie directed by Jason Reitman and starring Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, and Mckenna Grace is playing in theaters only.

Afterlife's first weekend actually trails that of Paul Feig's Ghostbusters with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, which had a $46 million opening in June 2016. Aside from the unpredictable pandemic-era moviegoing habits, the crucial difference is that Afterlife cost about half as much to make. The weekend's other high-profile offering didn't fare as well. King Richard, the well-reviewed drama starring Will Smith as the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, earned $5.7 million at 3,302 locations, missing its modest expectations by almost half. The Warner Bros. film was released simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters.

Although traditional blockbusters have drawn decent audiences, dramas have struggled during the pandemic. But the outlook could be promising for King Richard, with its 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, A CinemaScore from audiences, and long awards season runway. The weekend's Top 10, according to Comscore's estimated ticket sales in the US and Canada, are:

1. Ghostbusters: Afterlife, $44 million
2. Eternals, $10.8 million
3. Clifford The Big Red Dog, $8.1 million
4. King Richard, $5.7 million
5. Dune, $3.1 million
6. Venom: Let There Be Carnage, $2.8 million
7. No Time to Die, $2.7 million
8. The French Dispatch, $970,000
9. Belfast, $940,000
10. Ron's Gone Wrong, $888,000 (More box office stories.)

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