It seems that the lucrative business of ghost busting still attracts audiences even after nearly 40 years. Sony Pictures’ "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," the latest attempt to revive the “Ghostbusters” franchise, drew a sizable audience to theaters this weekend, exceeding expectations. The movie scared up $44 million, unseating Disney’s "Eternals” atop the domestic box office, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
The fourth installment in the spooky franchise was projected to gross $30 million to $35 million in its opening weekend, which was delayed more than a year by the coronavirus pandemic. "Eternals” fell to the second position in its third weekend, collecting $10.8 million for a North American cumulative total of $135.8 million.
Without adjusting for pandemic-related losses or inflation, "Afterlife” notched the second-biggest opening for a "Ghostbusters” movie, just barely trailing the all-female revival, which launched at $46 million in 2016. "Ghostbusters” (1984) and "Ghostbusters II” (1989) opened at $13.6 million and $29.5 million , respectively.
Directed by Jason Reitman – son of original "Ghostbusters” filmmaker Ivan Reitman – "Afterlife” stars Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor and Finn Wolfhard as a new generation of phantom hunters investigating something strange in their neighborhood.
The spectral comedy also features nostalgic cameos from original ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. Their fourth castmate, Harold Ramis, died in 2014.
On review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, "Afterlife” scored a middling 62%, while the Los Angeles Times deemed the sequel "listless,” "creatively bankrupt” and "unaware of the charm and appeal of its predecessors.”
The family flick fared better with moviegoers, landing an impressive 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. An official letter grade from CinemaScore has yet to be posted.
Warner Bros.’ "King Richard,” the awards-buzzy drama starring Will Smith as the devoted father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, also debuted this weekend in theaters and on HBO Max. The acclaimed biopic racked up $5.7 million, securing fourth place across North American markets.
Hailed by The Times as "rewardingly jagged and uncommonly thoughtful,” "King Richard” earned a glowing 92% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and rave reviews for Smith, who has emerged as an early Oscar contender. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the family drama received an A grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.
"King Richard” was sandwiched between two returning titles in the top five: In third place, Paramount’s "Clifford the Big Red Dog” fetched $8.1 million in its second weekend for a North American cumulative total of $33.5 million; and in fifth, Warner Bros.’ "Dune” amassed $3.1 million in its fifth weekend for a cumulative $98.2 million.
Globally, "Eternals” has garnered $336.1 million, "Dune” $367.1 million and Columbia Pictures’ blockbuster "Venom: Let There Be Carnage” $454.7 million.
Opening next in wide release are Disney’s animated "Encanto,” Screen Gems’ "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” and United Artists Releasing’s "House of Gucci.”