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July 18, 2016

#Problematic: Ghostbusters, a $144 Million Budget Movie, Opens to Anemic $46 Million

2nd place for the weekend, beaten by "The Secret Life of Pets." That's understandable, sort of -- animated kids' movies own the weekend if they're any good -- but then, Ghostbuster's second place finish isn't anything to brag on, given that third place was held by the did-they-even-make-this-movie-and-if-so-why non-blockbuster Tarzan.

When you add in the fact that every feminist in the country Voted With Her Wasted Time and Dollars to see this flop, and that that business won't be repeat business, the Ghostbusters debut looks even weaker.

This isn't a tentpole, it's a tenthole. (Gendered innuendo intended.)

The big-budget franchise comedy opened to an estimated $46 million in North America, a problematic start for a movie with a net production budget of $144 million.

Plus the costs for advertising and prints which are really part of the budget, and usually included in the total figure -- and which can add almost another %100 over the production costs. For some reason Sony seems to be downplaying the total real costs of this movie.

During box-office press calls on Sunday morning, Sony executives were in full spin mode as they declared Paul Feig's all-female Ghostbusters reboot a triumph, pointing out that the $46 million opening was the biggest launch for a live-action comedy since Pitch Perfect 2 took in $69.2 million in May 2015.

"We are ecstatic with this opening. We have successfully restarted an important brand," Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, told The Hollywood Reporter.

But box-office analysts and rival studios are skeptical that Sony has indeed relaunched the storied franchise, considering $46 million is a problematic start for a movie with a net production budget of $144 million (rebates and tax incentives brought it down from $154 million). Ideally, they say, it should have opened to $60 million or more.

Feig's previous female-skewing comedies — including Bridesmaids and The Heat — were extraordinarily successful thanks to incredible multiples, as they held on week after week at the box office. But they cost a fraction of what Ghostbusters did. And they were standalone offerings, not a VFX-driven franchise comedy designed to revive a 30-year-old, marquee film series.

When factoring in marketing costs — the cost of promoting a summer tentpole globally can be upwards of $150 million — Ghostbusters may have to earn $375 million-$400 million worldwide to break even for Sony and partner Village Roadshow Pictures. That means it needs to do sizeable business overseas, since it could top out in the $130 million range domestically. (Sony insiders counter that the break-even number is $300 million).


"The more I ponder it, the worse this scenario plays out. Curiosity played a big factor in the $46 million debut and, as such, I doubt it will hold like a typical Feig comedy. In fact, I think it's going to drop big time when Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision Course open next week," says box-office analyst Jeff Bock.

"I know Sony is crowing about it being a great opening for a comedy, but the entire Ghostbusters legacy is what's at stake here, and it's not looking good. This was supposed to be a blockbuster," he continues. "Sony definitively did not launch a franchise, and seemingly they might be the only ones that don't know it. I know it's been a tough road for them, and I feel for them."


Ghostbusters did earn generally good reviews, but audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore, instead of a resounding A.

I've read several of the positive reviews, from Social Justice Emporiums like Buzzfeed. Strangely, though the reviews came to the required conclusion of "Recommend," they sure seem littered with more criticisms than praise -- almost as if they had a strong bill of indictment, but were determined at the end to give the movie a pass.

Just like Comey giving Clinton a pass, in fact.

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posted by Ace at 01:24 PM

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