Ghostbusters Are Back In ‘Afterlife’, Will Smith Starrer ‘King Richard’ Debuts Amid Oscar Buzz
The Ghostbusters are back this weekend in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, opening in 4,300 theaters including IMAX and other large screens. It is the fourth film in Sony’s franchise and a direct sequel to the first two films, disregarding the 2016 reboot. Afterlife is a family affair, being written and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), whose father Ivan Reitman directed Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II and is producing Afterlife. Even the story keeps it the family, focusing on the grandchildren of O.G. ghostbuster Egon Spengler, who was played in the original films by the late Harold Ramis. The cast is headlined by Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard ("Stranger Things"), Carrie Coon ("The Leftovers", Fargo"), and Mckenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home), but the real treat for fans is the return of the old gang as the film brings back Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts.

The original Ghostbusters was the highest grossing film of 1984, and it was among the top grossing films of the decade with a domestic gross of $243 million. It remains the biggest in the series, with the 1989 follow-up grossing $112 million and Ghostbusters (2016) grossing $128 million. The reboot opened to $46 million, which sounds high for Afterlife, but we’re seeing a lot of interest in the film on IMDb, with pre-release views comparable to recent blockbusters. Reviews are mixed but leaning positive (65% on Rotten Tomatoes), and if audiences take to the film we could see it play long through the holiday season, especially given its theatrical exclusivity. Afterlife is also opening overseas this weekend, including in the U.K., Germany, Italy, and Latin America. The Ghostbusters franchise doesn’t have a huge international footprint, but 2016's Ghostbusters scored $100 million overseas. While that film's $229 million global cume was underwhelming for a film budgeted at $144 million, that would be a more satisfying number for the $75 million Afterlife.

This weekend’s other wide release is WB’s King Richard, which stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. The film opens on 3,250 screens and will also be available on HBO Max, and it should come in second or third place depending on how well it performs and how Eternals holds in its third weekend. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men), the inspirational sports biopic has racked up great reviews (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) and plenty of Oscar buzz since its Telluride premiere, though its streaming availability may hamper its potential to play long through the awards season. The film also stars Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as the two budding tennis champions, Aunjanue Ellis as their mother Oracene Price, and Jon Bernthal as star tennis coach Rick Macci.

While we’ve seen some strong box office performances from big blockbusters and horror movies, dramas have had a tough time this year. The year’s highest grossing drama thus far is Respect, which grossed only $24.3 million since it opened in August. King Richard may be the title to break out, but Warner’s films have especially seemed to have a glass ceiling, even when big names have been involved, with Cry Macho fizzling out at $10.2 million and The Last Duel tallying $10.7 million after a month.

In limited release, A24 is opening another Oscar hopeful and Telluride premiere C'mon C'mon. This black and white drama from writer/director Mike Mills, which is at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, stars Joaquin Phoenix as a radio journalist who takes his nephew on a cross-country road trip to work on a story. A24 previously distributed Mills’ 2016 film 20th Century Women, which grossed $5.6 million in the U.S. and got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Among the slew of smaller limited release titles opening this weekend, a few stand out when looking at their IMDb traffic. The African-American faith-based drama The Youngest Evangelist is getting a release by Atlas Distribution Company. India Sweets and Spices is an Indian diaspora themed family dramedy from Bleecker Street. Screen Media’s Black Friday is a zombie horror-comedy set in a big box store on the titular discount holiday.