Weekend Preview: Can 'Ghostbusters' Scare Up a $50M Opening?
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Friday estimates have come in and Ghostbusters is right on track to match Mojo's expectations with an estimated $17.2 million Friday, pushing toward a weekend right around $46 million. While these aren't exactly blockbuster numbers given the film's $144 million production budget, they aren't exactly dire numbers either as director Paul Feig's films tend to deliver solid multipliers. In fact, the film's "B+" CinemaScore matches the CinemaScore for both Spy and Bridesmaids and is just below The Heat's "A-" and all three enjoyed solid legs. Ghostbusters is looking to deliver Feig's largest opening of all-time and the same goes for star Melissa McCarthy.

Ghostbusters will slide into second place for the weekend, giving way to last weekend's number one opener, The Secret Life of Pets, which brought in an estimated $15 million on Friday and is looking at a $50+ million sophomore session.

Broad Green's The Infiltrator began its roll-out on Wednesday and carried $1.46 million into the weekend after two days. On Friday it brought in an estimated $1.485 million and is looking at a weekend around $4.8-5 million.

Also on Friday, Lionsgate's limited roll-out of Woody Allen's Cafe Society delivered an estimated $114,500 and is looking at a weekend total around $325,000, for a strong $65,000 per theater average.

We'll take a much closer look at the weekend tomorrow morning, for now you can check out all of Friday's estimates right here.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Sony's Ghostbusters reboot brought in an estimated $3.4 million from Thursday night previews. Green Lantern also kicked off its Thursday with $3.4 million before opening with $53.1 million, X-Men: First Class started with $3.37 million on Thursday and opened with $55 million and The Great Gatsby brought in $3.25 million and opened with $50 million.

For director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy that's an improvement over the last two R-rated collaborations, which saw Spy bring in $1.6 million on Thursday followed by a $29 million opening and The Heat, which brought in $1 million on Thursday and opened with $39.7 million.

From a PG-13 perspective, a few other films that had similar Thursday performances include Pacific Rim ($3.6m Thursday, $37.2m opening), Independence Day: Resurgence ($4m/$41m), Warcraft ($3.1m/$24.1m) and San Andreas ($3.1m/$54.5m). Given the wide variety of comparisons it's tough to gain much insight, though an opening over $40 million still seems likely.

We'll be back tomorrow with Friday estimates, which should present a clearer picture. You can read our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: This weekend Sony's Ghostbusters hits theaters amid a flurry of headlines such as being named the film with the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history to Sony chief Tom Rothman responding to the negative online response by telling The Hollywood Reporter, "It's the greatest thing that ever happened. Are you kidding me? We're in the national debate, thank you. Can we please get some more haters to say stupid things?" As a result, awareness certainly seems high, but how that awareness translates to box office is the big question. There's always the old saying, "There's no such thing as bad press"... right?

Back in 2015 online furor called Mad Max: Fury Road "feminist drivel filth". Ultimately the uproar didn't have a noticeable impact on Fury Road's box office performance as it opened with $45 million, grossed over $150 million domestically and over $375 million worldwide on a $150 million budget. The comparison may end up eerily similar for Ghostbusters given the film's $144 million budget and its expected opening weekend.

In attempting to forecast that opening weekend, sorting the signal from the noise is a near impossibility. One might be tempted to put stock in Ghostbusters' more than 2.9 million Facebook fans. Trouble is, that page wasn't focused on the reboot until around May 2015 and even as of November 2015 it still featured the cast of the original Ghostbusters film in its "About" section at a time when it had already amassed nearly 2.4 million fans.

A study of IMDb.com traffic data is also tough to go by over the past few days. The results could very easily be skewed as a result of headlines focused on alleged ballot-stuffing suggesting a small group of IMDb users were attempting to intentionally lower the film's user score. For some perspective, the film's IMDb user rating currently stands at 4.1/10 with over 14,000 votes, 50% of which score the film 1/10. Only one-third of the film's grades have come from outside the United States and so far the only territory that has released the film is the UK, and that was on July 11.

Information that can be considered a little more closely includes the 74% rating on RottenTomatoes for Ghostbusters, which has held relatively steady over the past few days. Also, Fandango.com reports the film is the online ticket retailer's top pre-selling live-action comedy of the year so far. The film is outselling comparable titles including Central Intelligence and Ride Along 2, both of which opened over $35 million, and is looking to become director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy's top preseller on Fandango, suggesting an opening above 2013's The Heat ($39.1m).

In terms of a prediction, Sony is going conservative, anticipating a $38-40 million opening for the film. Given the pre-sale information alone, that forecast looks like a bare minimum as an opening closer to $45-50 million seems like a reasonable opening weekend range. While that would give the film the largest opening for a live action comedy this year, topping Central Intelligence's $35.5 million opening last month, the size of the budget and the fact this is being looked at as a franchise starter means it's going to want a multiplier similar to the 4.78 average multiplier Paul Feig have delivered.

We'll also be keeping a close eye on the film's international performance, especially since it was just revealed it will not be released in China, partly as a result of China's official censorship guidelines prohibiting movies that "promote cults or superstition". However, the film has already hit theaters in the UK and will also be released in Australia, Brazil and a few smaller territories this weekend. It will expand its international footprint over the weeks to come.

Targeting a first place finish once again, Illumination and Universal's The Secret Life of Pets is likely to drop around 46-48% for a second weekend around $54 million. Pets is playing somewhat similarly to Inside Out, which dropped 42% in its second weekend, but given the massive, $104.3 million opening for Pets, a bit of a larger drop than Inside Out experienced is to be expected.

The weekend's other new wide release is Broad Green's The Infiltrator, which opened on Wednesday in 1,600 theaters and brought in $773,761. Reviews have been somewhat mixed with the film currently hovering just above that rotten/fresh line with a 62% rating on RottenTomatoes as a weekend around $4 million seems like a safe expectation.

In limited release a couple markets will get a double dose of Kristen Stewart this weekend with the limited release of Woody Allen's latest film, Cafe Society, into five theaters and A24 releasing Drake Doremus's Equals into two theaters following the film's DirecTV debut.

Finally, the political climate heats up in theaters as well as on the campaign trailer with Quality Flix releasing Dinesh D'Souza's Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party into three theaters this weekend followed by a nationwide expansion into 1,200+ theaters next weekend, just after the Republican National Convention has wrapped up.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • The Secret Life of Pets (4,382 theaters) - $54.3 M
  • Ghostbusters (2016) (3,963 theaters) - $46 M
  • Finding Dory (3,536 theaters) - $11.4 M
  • The Legend of Tarzan (3,551 theaters) - $10.9 M
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (3,008 theaters) - $7.5 M
  • The Purge: Election Year (2,670 theaters) - $6.6 M
  • Central Intelligence (2,381 theaters) - $4.3 M
  • The Infiltrator (1,600 theaters) - $4.1 M
  • The BFG (2,182 theaters) - $4.1 M
  • Independence Day: Resurgence (2,290 theaters) - $3.9 M

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.