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“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is the front runner at the domestic box office, as the comedy sequel is headed towards a $40.5 million haul for the weekend.

After earning $4.5 million in Thursday previews, “Afterlife” was originally projected to draw a three-day total of $27 million to $30 million, a figure that the film is now outperforming. The Sony Pictures release grossed $16.5 million from 4,315 locations on Friday.

Sony has positioned the comedy sequel for continuous play over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday next weekend, betting on great word-of-mouth to earn ticket sales from families of men, women and children. During the pandemic era, young adults have been the primary audience to show interest in returning to theaters, while family and adult-oriented films have failed to draw big numbers more often that not. How “Afterlife” holds over the next few weeks remains up in the air, though its “A-” CinemaScore is certainly an encouraging sign of enthusiasm from audiences.

The new addition to the “Ghostbusters” franchise focuses on the next generation of spooky sleuths, who find themselves at the center of supernatural activity in their small Oklahoma town. The film stars Paul Rudd as Gary Grooberson, a Ghostbusters superfan who is an amateur parapsychologist, as well as Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Carrie Coon, who portray a new family in town with connections to the original spirit hunters. Original “Ghostbusters” stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts also reprise their roles from the original 1984 film.

Jason Reitman — the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two “Ghostbusters” films — helms “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” Reitman told Variety that though he was originally hesitant to follow in his father’s footsteps, that same feeling actually ended up giving him inspiration for the film.

“That’s what this movie became about,” Reitman said. “‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is about a family developing the courage to pick up the proton pack themselves.”

Opening this weekend at No. 4 is Warner Bros.’ prospective awards play “King Richard.” The film is headed for a muted debut of $5.95 million from 3,302 locations, far below original projections that hemmed closer to $10 million. That underperformance likely marks another box office victim of the studio’s current strategy to simultaneously release its theatrical slate on HBO Max. Still, “King Richard” has received high praise from critics and even more enthusiastic approval from audiences, earning a coveted “A” CinemaScore rating. The film could have a healthy hold at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Many currently see Will Smith as the leader in this year’s best actor race for his turn as Richard Williams, the father and tennis coach to Venus and Serena Williams. “King Richard” could also draw attention across other awards categories.

Dropping to the No. 2 slot is Marvel’s “Eternals.” The Disney release fell 59% in its third weekend and is headed for a three-day haul of $11 million. While “Eternals” isn’t performing as strongly as other MCU entries, it is still projected to reach a $136 million total domestic cume after Sunday, marking a monster performance for a pandemic era release.

Looking to take third is Paramount’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” The studio estimates the family-friendly film will draw $8 million in its second weekend, a 52% drop from its debut.

Rounding out the top five is Warner Bros. and Legendary’s adaptation of “Dune,” with a projected $2.97 million weekend. The Denis Villeneuve-helmed sci-fi movie will push its domestic gross past $98 million, inching its way to becoming the second day-and-date HBO Max release to cross $100 million at the domestic box office after “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

On the arthouse scene, A24’s “C’mon C’mon” is kicking off its limited run this weekend. The Mike Mills-directed drama is projected to earn $125,000 from locations in New York and Los Angeles. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix in his first feature film role since his Oscar-winning turn in 2019’s “Joker.” A24 expects word-of-mouth to carry the film’s momentum, as the distributor has plotted a modest expansion to 100-some locations over the Thanksgiving holiday. Another expansion will follow after.