After a nearly 30-year hiatus, the “Ghostbusters” franchise is finally back in U.S. theaters, albeit with a new look. Sony’s all-female reboot opened Thursday night with a decent $3.4 million.
The comedy is launching against the second session of Illumination-Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets,” which will probably take in around $55 million this weekend.
“Ghostbusters” is pegged by the studio to finish in the $38 million to $40 million range at 3,950 locations this weekend, but box office trackers believe the action-comedy reboot will take in more like $45 million to $50 million.
“Ghostbusters” is coming into the market with mostly positive reviews, reflected in a current 73% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie has generated massive awareness, partly due to fans of the 1984 original griping about women — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — filling the roles originated by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
Online ticketing service Fandango reported on Wednesday that “Ghostbusters” was its top pre-selling live-action comedy of the year, outpacing “Central Intelligence” and “Ride Along 2” — both which opened at over $35 million. That would make “Ghostbusters” the biggest live-action comedy opening since “Pitch Perfect 2” opened in May, 2015, with a stunning $69 million.
The reboot is directed by Paul Feig, who has teamed with McCarthy on three hits in a row with “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “Spy” — all which showed strong holding power following their opening weekends. With a $144 million price tag, “Ghostbusters” will need a need a similar performance to be profitable — and generate significant grosses overseas.
“Ghostbusters” opens internationally in the English language territories of the U.K. and Australia as well as Brazil and a handful of other smaller markets.
As with the original, the movie is set in Manhattan, which is beset by an invasion of ghosts. Ivan Reitman, who directed the original film, produced with Amy Pascal.
“The Secret Life of Pets” blew away forecasts last weekend with a $104.4 million U.S. opening, breaking the record by “Inside Out” for best launch of an original animated title. It has shown solid holding power this week with another $37.8 million from Monday through Wednesday, lifting the six-day domestic total to $142.2 million.
“Pets” is by far the top 2016 performer for Universal. “Ride Along 2” had been its top grosser with $91 million.
The only other domestic opener is Broad Green’s “The Infiltrator,” starring Bryan Cranston as a federal agent battling Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel and opening at about 1,600 locations. The thriller opened Wednesday with a moderate $773,761.