Sony’s ‘Ghostbusters’ Loss Likely to Come to About $50 Million, Sources Say

'Ghostbusters' Likely to Cause $50 Million
Courtesy of Sony

UPDATED: As Sony Pictures Entertainment struggled a year ago to recover from a computer hacking debacle and a string of box office flops, the studio and the new chairman of its motion picture group, Tom Rothman, could look forward hopefully to a turnaround that would include a rebooted “Ghostbusters.”

But nearly a month after the release of the female-powered comedy, Sony has had to push its turnaround date farther on to the horizon — to fall or winter and much-anticipated offerings like the Western “The Magnificent Seven,” and the space odyssey, “Passengers,” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

Nearly a month after its release, “Ghostbusters,” has brought in just $180 million worldwide. And with a total take projected to end up at something like $240 million, the reimagining of the 1984 favorite will not come close to making back its large production and marketing budgets. Sources familiar with the film’s finances say that it’s likely to end up losing about $75 million, with Sony’s financial hit coming closer to about $50 million, because of its co-financing arrangement with Village Roadshow.

Sony appears to be done with “Ghostbusters” as a live-action franchise, though the studio continues to tout the picture as a winner on other fronts and Rothman is said to be pleased that the studio had been able to defray costs on the film, particularly by sharing its marketing expenses with a platoon of branding partners. Sony insiders project the total loss on the film, for Sony and its financial partners, will be closer to $25 million.

The movie has yet to open in some markets, including Japan, Korea, Spain, France and Mexico. There are talks about shifting the franchise to an animated feature that could debut in 2019 and also a Ghostbusters TV spinoff, that could be ready a year earlier. The studio also touts the spread of the brand to everything from action figures to the virtual-reality Ghostbusters attraction at Madame Tussauds in New York.

And many of the ads that sold “Ghostbusters” to the world came via co-branding via partners like Progressive Insurance, Papa John’s and Dave & Buster’s. The ad alliances brought a total value of $60 million to the movie’s marketing, according to an individual familiar with the campaign.

The movie “has reignited a 30-year-old brand and put it into the modern zeitgeist,” said a Sony spokesperson. “As a result, we have many ideas to further exploit the Ghostbusters universe.”

The Paul Feig-directed film — starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon — drew some backlash from fans of the original film, who objected to women playing the roles once inhabited by men. That led to a counter-protest, in which women came out in support of the new “Ghostbusters.” Critics were torn about the film, which received a 73% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the incredible movie that Paul Feig made,” the studio spokesperson said.

Rothman arrived at Sony in the middle of last year, inheriting the “Ghostbusters” project from the previous administration. He worked tirelessly to trim the budget of the film, with some observers worried a summer comedy wouldn’t be able to cover a production budget that Sony put at $144 million. (Others familiar with the film said it cost considerably more than that.)

Village Roadshow will take a hit of about $18 million for its one-quarter share of the total and additionally owes roughly $7 million in distribution fees, putting its total “Ghostbusters” loss at about $25 million, the sources said. A spokesperson for Village Roadshow said the company declined to comment.

And what of the future of “Ghostbusters”? “They will go the animation route now and do the best they can with that,” said one of the sources, who declined to be named discussing Sony’s internal strategy. “I can’t imagine why they would even think about a live-action sequel.”

The studio spokesperson said: “With multiple revenue streams, including consumer products, gaming, location-based entertainment, continued international rollout, and huge third-party promotional and financial partnerships that mitigated costs, the bottom line is way below that number.”

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  1. Joanna says:

    This movie killed off a franchise Sony had underestimated the size of. Well done.

    Ghostbusters will now be kiddiefodder, with animated films and cartoons made for teens and preteens.

  2. Martine says:

    When will hollywood learn that a blatant attempt to be politically correct is not organic, and not appealing to anyone. Its just a blatant attempt to make girls see science as fun and adventurous, and to make boys see science as something girls do, not them. This is more like brainwashing then a real film.

  3. DaveC310 says:

    Not sure why they’re doing an all female Ocean’s 11. If you want to make a female driven movie come up with an original idea. The audience for Ocean’s 11 isn’t the same audience that wants to see female driven movies. There’s plenty of room for movie’s about women, just not sure this is the best bet for the studio.

  4. ed says:

    Waaay too much spin going on. GB can’t even make it’s production plus marketing and people are trying to call it a success based on toys and other merchandise. (who is buying McCarthy dolls, by the way?), and yet Suicide Squad has already made like $450M ABOVE it’s production and marketing costs and the same people trying to say it is a loss somehow with no actual figures or backing to show for it. And i can guarantee you, that Suicide Squad merchandise is selling. There’s going to be a TON of Harley Quinn outfits this halloween.

  5. Pat says:

    Goodbye, horrible Ghostbusters reboot. You won’t be missed.

  6. stevenkovacs says:

    Just let it die in peace. And leave it be!

  7. tony says:

    only 3 or 4 movies have performed well or excelled at the box office during this summer.

    GB has still to open worldwide and it is best not to right it off yet.

    as to its quality, bottom line is it got mostly decent reviews so either people who have seen it like it or they do not.

  8. Nomen luni says:

    The video game was a lazy and barely disguised re-skin of a previous game ‘Sanctum of Slime’ which itself received terrible reviews. It has sold abysmally so I doubt it made any profit at all, and if Sony are going to wax lyrical with all these other revenue streams let’s start talking about the production costs associated with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game made a loss and the toys were on the reduced shelf before the film released.

  9. VentryPlond says:

    Whoops! What a disaster…

  10. David says:

    The media will never stop trying to spin this, huh? By Box office alone, this disaster is losing Sony at the very least $100 million.

  11. cadavra says:

    For the record, the original, with an arguably starrier cast, cost $30 million, which would be $70 million today. Had this cost the same or even a little more, instead of the reported $185 million (literally 2 1/2 times greater), it might have managed a break-even. When will these jokers ever learn to control spending?

  12. jedijones77 says:

    Dear Variety, we did not object to women being Ghostbusters, we objected to this being a REMAKE instead of a sequel, one that did not even include the original beloved characters. Everyone said this clearly online as soon as Sony announced Feig’s concept, but they arrogantly ignored us and suffered a completely avoidable, predictable disaster. Dan Aykroyd always said his Ghostbusters 3 would have some new female Ghostbusters and nobody ever complained.

    Do you think Star Wars fans would’ve been happy if Disney had remade the original Star Wars, with all female leads or otherwise, instead of doing a sequel and bringing back the original cast members in their original roles? Sony showed more ignorance about what a pre-existing fan base wants than any movie studio has since Batman & Robin flopped in 1997. A sequel continuing within the universe of parts 1 and 2 with substantial parts for even just one or two of the original Ghostbusters (see Han Solo in Force Awakens) would’ve been a $100 million+ opener, would have made all its money back plus big profits and sold a lot more merchandise too.

    Even a reboot a la Star Trek with new actors playing the original characters would’ve had a decent chance to succeed. But the piece of garbage they put together was just insulting to the original movie and to the fans who grew up following the original characters in enormously popular cartoons, comic books and video games.

    We STILL want to see a true Ghostbusters 3 and it would still be a huge opener in 3 or so years after the memory of this rotten turd has faded. Bourne Legacy was a mistake and a failure. The studio acknowledged that and went back to the continue the series with a proper sequel. Why is Sony incapable of simply listening to their fan base even when those fans created the most epic, relentless and powerful internet uproar about a movie ever? Give the lifelong Ghostbusters fans what we want, just as Disney gave to the Star Wars fans, and the money will roll in.

  13. Ajt says:

    Gaming? The tie in Video game only had 2000 people register it. Which means after free review and marketing copies, probably less than 1500 pieces sold at $59 each. It’s gotten the worst reviews ever, just an appealingly bad video game. The game developer went Bankrupt three days after the movie released. So yeah, above and beyond anything else Sony will not be seeing any payments from the license. Yeah, remember this is what the Sony Spinmeisters are describing as the “good” other revenue stream. Similarly the toys sold so badly at retail that they triggered automated inventory clearance sales by Target and Toysrus, a week before the movie released. No merchant will be ordering additional Ghostbusters toy product. What little remains us being blown out by discount merchants such as 5 below. Once again, this is the good, happy positive side of the revenue equation.

    Makes you wonder just how bad the books really look, doesn’t it?

  14. Roy says:

    What clever accounting is this? First it was at least 70 million, now it’s only 50? The books will show that it will be around 200 million USD.
    Keep spinning Sony, you’re going out of business!

    • cadavra says:

      You need to read more than just the headline. It clearly states that Sony’s loss will be around $50 million, while the remaining $25 million gets eaten by production partner Village Roadshow.

      • ed says:

        That’s right. The estimated loss is correct, but Sony gets to share the pain with another company. Not much consolation there.

  15. Bollocks Malarkey says:

    Eventually (hopefully) Hollywood will come to realize that when you feed the public crap they end up with the equivalent of entertainment type-2 diabetes. Get back to basics i.e. story and originality and the world be a more inspired place. Everything else is a waste of meaningless time, effort and money.

  16. Saeger Ryman says:

    “The Paul Feig-directed film…drew some backlash from fans of the original film, who objected to women playing the roles once inhabited by men. That led to a counter-protest, in which women came out in support of the new Ghostbusters.”

    This paragraph repeats a big lie told by supporters of the film, which dishonestly positioned this as a gender war with “manbabies” on one side and enlightened women on the other. But this was never anything but a big lie, and should not be repeated by reputable journalists.

    A very simple, easy, cursory look on YouTube, and you can find many female YouTubers who were panning the awful trailers before the movie even came out. Some of us who objected to the poor quality of the scenes in the trailer weren’t even exactly die-hard Ghostbusters fans, but were amazed at how poorly written and executed everything seemed to be. A big sticking point by many early critics was the flat jokes and poor CGI.

    Further, it is a lie to suggest the “counter-protest” were all women, as the leader of the bunch seemed to be Paul Feig himself, a man. Many of the other angry supporters of the film were also men, who were on board with some sort of agenda that had nothing to do with good filmmaking.

    This may not be a major point, but it is, in fact, a lie, and should be corrected in the article.

    • Scientist Man says:

      It doesn’t look good for Sony’s future when they keep promoting this line that blames everyone but themselves for this really bad movie. If they just had one person in power over there who knew anything about movies who could read the scripts and weed out the crap, they’d be OK. They don’t.

      At this point, the only tragic thing about the losses Sony faces is that it won’t be enough to bankrupt the studio.

  17. Dan says:

    When you feel the need to remake a movie that didn’t need to be remade, and then have rad fems scream that people wouldn’t watch it because it was recast with all females, you’re not gonna make a profit. I personally can;t stop laughing about this though!

  18. taransula says:

    The game was TRASHED critics who don’t feel the same Social Justice obligation to give good reviews. I didn’t think the movie was THAT bad, but i focused on Wiig because the other characters (esp Hemsworth and McKinnon) were some of the worst writing i’ve seen in a decade, and almost physically painful to watch. I’d say good effort, but i feel like they were paying their writers minimum wage.

  19. Ben says:

    As someone else said here, that math is way off. The production was about $150 million (with exhibition splits they need to get to about $375 million to recoup into black), fair guess at least $100 million marketing. So they needed about $475 million, and even if they did get to $240 million they are greater than $200 million in loss, and if Village Roadshow is getting a $18 million loss then Sony has the $182 million loss or more.

    The Sony spin machine has been pathetic “has reignited a 30-year-old brand and put it into the modern zeitgeist,” – this is not something that anyone believes. And the Sony despise of the audience that they wanted to pay to see the movie has been bizarre and incompetent.

    • jedijones77 says:

      Mattel had already been making Ghostbusters toys for years. They sold out the last of their replica Proton guns last year after previously selling out of Ghost Traps and PKE Meters. Likewise Lego had already had the Ecto-1 and Firehouse out before this movie came out. Ghostbusters comic books never stopped being made. So at the very least their dirty accounting is rolling in profits on the original movie merchandise that was already being made anyway into the numbers for merchandise sales based on the she-make.

      • ed says:

        The flop movie might in fact hurt their brand in the long run and costs them even more money than if they just left it alone.

  20. BillUSA says:

    What part of “Starring Melissa McCarthy” didn’t scream failure? What part of rebooting made anyone feel they had a sure thing – especially with gender-altered roles? I don’t get Hollywood confused with MENSA, but c’mon, someone had to doubt the prospect of this film making a ton of money.

    Perhaps the go-ahead and subsequent failure of this film ARE due to this false narrative coming from the Land of Fantasy that women are ready for the male echelon of pay. I’m all for fairness, but I’m looking at this from a dollars and cents perspective. Women don’t sell unless (unfortunately) they do porn. Hollywood has built themselves into a corner where the leading man is the main attraction and the woman is there for support. Should it change? Certainly. Will it change? Not in my lifetime. Should they drop the idea of women entering the top pay echelon? Absolutely not.

    But the movers and shakers shouldn’t be too hasty to believe the hype about how far we’ve come as a society. Just as plastic as their movie worlds are, the narrative out of Hollywood is artificial outside that little bubble of theirs in southern California. The real America believes what it wants to believe because of how people have experienced real life – not through movies or political agendas. Frankly, I hope enough of these failures occur to make the bigwigs realize that they should stay out of the social engineering trade.

    Shed no tears for Sony or Village Roadshow as they will surely find ways of passing the losses off onto the customer. (Psssst, that’s why I don’t go to the movies)

    • ed says:

      This movie was a mess and the marketing even worse, but female leads are fine for blockbusters. Star Wars the Force Awakens had a female lead and made ALL the money, and Inside Out had 2 female leads and made a boat load of money. It’s when the agenda is rammed down the audience’s throats and the studio attacks its own fans for being sexist is when you are not looking at blockbuster box office.

    • Melissa is a very solid/reliable opener on a low/medium budget but has no pull outside of US cause nobody across the ocean knows who she is. Her brand of lowbrow comedy doesn’t sell internationally. So investing 144M (reported budget, likely higher in reality) in her movie co-starring SNL people (also unknown to overseas audiences) in a remake of a movie that doesn’t have huge international following was a total miscalculation. If done right, nostalgia brings in crowds (Jurassic World, Star Wars: TFA). If done wrong, well…

    • jedijones77 says:

      Female leads can do fine in their own movies starring characters who are supposed to be female. See Maleficent. But the idea of taking a pre-existing franchise with a male lead and remaking it with a female lead is something that’s rarely been even attempted and has no track record of success. I think the last time it was tried was in 1994 in The Next Karate Kid, which had similar box office results as Girlbusters.

      • Maleficent also had Angelina Jolie, a global superstar. It was a perfect mix of star power and iconic character that, as you accurately point out, was supposed to be female. GB neither had international star power (some stars are strictly American phenomenon) nor iconic characters written as women.

    • EricJ says:

      Even when The Boss did a quick post-opening tank at the box office only a few months earlier, analysts said, “Don’t worry, she’ll be much more successful in a fan-identified franchise that people WANT to see!”
      Oh, I can see the difference immediately….

    • taransula says:

      But that’s not true. Give us good writing and good story and we’ll go anywhere. Cameron was laughed at for the “Aliens” script because they said you can’t lead with a female, especially if the character has nothing to do with sexuality. They were wrong, everyone got behind Ripley. Beautiful PEOPLE more often than not feature in movies (try making a movie about 4 ugly average looking dudes and see what happens). Ghostbusters writing was terrible, and everyone was mentally handicapped except Wiig, who did a fine job but couldn’t hold up the film by herself.

  21. Cath says:

    Why all the details on this one supposedly “underperforming” movie and not all the others? Initial indication was that China was not going to allow the movie to run there. If this is true then that would account for a large chunk of potential revue gone missing.

    • taransula says:

      That’s true but nowhere in the world have people flocked to see it. The preview looked like utter garbage, rehashed ghosts with kindergarten dialogue. They shot themselves in the foot early on this one- they should have taken a page from Pixar, it can still be funny with dialogue for grownups- the kids will love it anyway.

  22. tony says:

    i suppose they can take some comfort from the fact that a lot of other summer movies, some that looked like sure things, under performed too.

  23. tony says:

    shame sony marketing did not take advantage of the most positive reviews for this film and put out some ads to overturn the negative vibe that had become attached to it.

    i was reluctant to see it at first but really liked it when i did.

  24. Victor Stone says:

    Truth is: Sony knew the movie were going to be a flop anyway, and tried to draw attention to it by turning it into a battle of sexes on the internet. The cast, the director and even Rothman himself acted like huge dicks by scolding fans of the original movie and urging the media to go on their support – like all the bullying directed to James Rolfe only because he DIDN’T WANT TO WATCH THE MOVIE. They thought they were going to transform the movie into a political liberal gesture, but, in fact, they alienated half of their potential audience.

    The movie itself is mediocre and forgettable, and no one were talking about it anymore on the next weeks, when Star Trek, Bourne and Suicide Squad premiered. In the future, it will probably be more remembered because of this ridiculous internet war than for its quality or memorable scenes and characters – unlike the 1984 movie.

    • All of this. The movie’s extremely forgettable and mediocre to inspire any heated passion whether positive or negative which proves that “political” “battle of sexes” attention was manufactured in order to give such insignificant movie some significance. It worked partly domestically where SJW come from and GB holds some nostalgia value, but the rest of the world didn’t give 2 figs about the movie and social justice/importance of supporting it on social justice basis or whatever that PR stunt was about.

      Budgets are now so big that Hollywood can’t afford to make movies only for domestic market. They have to think globally when they put together a product and non-American world doesn’t care about SJW tantrums, causes, etc and therefore studios should not pander to that extremely loud but extremely small minority. They do not represent any larger segment of the audience. GB should be a lesson what happens when someone mistakes loud minority with their narrow agendas for representatives of the silent majority. Floppity flop.

  25. ric says:

    Sorry your math doesn’t add up.

  26. Paul says:

    I think it’s a very talented cast and I love, love, love two of the performers in particular but it looked so uninspired I couldn’t bring myself to see the film. Uninspired and underwhelmed is how the trailers left me feeling.

  27. Tom says:

    I was personally turned off by the witless trailer, but I thought it would still do well based on its brand name and cast. Nonetheless, it may still turn a profit in the vast after market.

  28. EricJ says:

    Sony thought that Batman VS’s strategy circling the wagons with the diehard fans and declaring war with an uncaring outside world of “haters” would rush to their defense.
    Nice to see that worked out so well for Suicide Squad.

  29. L. says:

    No, let’s not pretend the controversy was simply “women as lead roles!” While there were people who had a problem with that (and not simply because “misogyny!”; some felt it was a gimmick or a sign that the movie was aiming to an alternate audience), it was distaste over the perceived quality of the movie due to poor trailers and the creators dismissing all criticism as “misogynistic manbabies” (despite plenty of female critics being skeptical of the film’s quality) that led to the bulk of the controversy.

    And not all of the defenders of the movie were female. Many men were among those who insulted anyone who was critical of the reboot as a “manbaby”, including an outright delusional and sociopathic campaign against well-known internet critic James Rolfe in a desperate attempt to dismiss his lack of interest in the reboot as misogyny.

    It makes you wonder how many people might have been willing to give the trailers a second chance, or even were interested from the get-go, but who were immediately turned off by the creators and the defenders’ amoral attempts to use their twisted idea of “feminism” to deflect criticism. And it’s downright sickening how, in the name of “feminism”, so many people are adamant on pretending all the women whose opinions are inconvenient to them don’t exist.

  30. Ken Spellright says:

    “Nearly a month after it’s release …”

    It’s not spelled IT’S if its meaning is ITS.

    You are a professional. Learn to spell a three-letter word.

  31. “With multiple revenue streams, including consumer products, gaming, location-based entertainment, continued international rollout, and huge third-party promotional and financial partnerships that mitigated costs, the bottom line is way below that number.”

    I heard the toys were on clearance, before the movie even hit theaters, and the Ghostbusters video game developer just filed for bankruptcy.

    They’re working overtime trying to make this giant steaming pile of bull plop look good, I’m guessing, for the Sony stockholders.

  32. Phillip Ayling says:

    The studio quotes are all about the synergistic money making, more money yet to come internationally and how they couldn’t be prouder of the movie. Not one person willing to go on the record and say the movie bombed and they aren’t exercising any sequel options with the cast.

  33. Seriously it's time to call this turd done says:

    1st Tom Rothman, don’t tell the viewing public, “fuck em”, when your turd of a movie is deserving of all the hate it generates. 2nd this probably was a medorce movie at best but the whole movies cast and crew being big dicks reinforced the hate ten folds! Melissa McCarthy and Kirsten Wiig are not beloved comedic icons, they are at best one note wonder stuck in a broken repeat mode. Humility is underrated, had they just kept quiet and let the film speak for itself, instead proclaiming it the next coming of Jesus. And finally how did this film come out with a budget of $175+, beside McCarthy who is a semi A lister none of the other cast are proven A lister. The CGI in this movie is horrendous, so where did all the money go? Was it the infamous dance sequence that was cut? The extra for this bluray will a ton of extra crap lol. Yet Sony is still trying to spin this into a good movie!

    • ed says:

      Exactly right on the budget! Movies like Ben-Hur (another dud) costs waaay less, but had actual old sets built and a chariot race (expensive practical effects) and Pixels which actually looked better than the reboot GB did! Where did the money go? Even the sets in GB were uninspired and unoriginal. The CGI was Scooby-Doo level. Maybe this was a big money laundering scam or something.

    • Anonymous says:

      I too wonder where the hell all the production money went, because we sure as hell are not seeing it on screen. This is almost as bad as one of those Adam Sandler movies that “cost” 60 or 80 million to make, but look like they were filmed in 12 hours over a weekend.I’m not saying this is as big of a scam as say, Jack and Jill was, but how much money did they spread around to Feig, et al?

  34. Locutus says:

    McCarthy sunk this ship with her open hatred towards geeks. Feig and what’s her face followed suit. Not smart. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. These people stupidly destroyed a lot of potential. Shame.

  35. Mr Model says:

    As good as these female comics were, it was like watching some weird late-night repeat of something I’d seen a long long time ago……

  36. cylon6 says:

    They really should have made it cheaper, tried it another time of the year and not turned it into a battle of the sexes with critics of it. It’s an okay movie but ultimately a missed opportunity.

  37. Paul Feig says:

    You’re making more than Sony made on Ghostbusters 2016!

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