‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Slimes The Competition With A $44 Million Bow; ‘King Richard’ Double-Faults In Its Debut
Turns out there’s still some life left in those proton packs after all. Following a poorly received, all-female reboot in 2016, Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife slimed the competition at the pre-Thanksgiving box office this weekend, debuting to a much stronger-than-expected $44 million domestic haul. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ Will Smith-led awards-hopeful, King Richard, stumbled out of the gate, bowing in fourth place with an underwhelming $5.7 million as the Joaquin Phoenix heartstring-puller C'mon C'mon soared in limited release.

Thirty-seven years after the first Ghostbusters became the top-grossing film of 1984, the fourth and latest entry in the specter-hunting franchise easily blew past box-office predictions that had it opening in the $27-$35 million range. The PG-13-rated sci-fi comedy directed by Jason Reitman (son of the original Ghostbusters’ director, Ivan Reitman) and starring Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, and a few old, familiar faces in cameo roles, unspooled in 4,315 locations and earned a $10,196 per-screen average. That bow was just shy of the 2016 version’s $46 million opening, however the latest version cost considerably less to produce. On a more positive note, though, Afterlife merited an ‘A-’ CinemaScore grade and a 62% fresh rating from critics. And while it is highly unlikely that the new chapter will get close to the original’s $243 domestic tally, its theatrical exclusivity should keep it in multiplexes for a while, where it could threaten the 2016’s $128 million North American take. Meanwhile, in 31 overseas markets, Afterlife tacked on an additional $16 million, bringing its cumulative first-week worldwide total to $60 million.

Finishing in second place was Disney’s Eternals, which racked up $10.8 million in its third week of release at home. The PG-13-rated Marvel tentpole, which stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, and Richard Madden among others, fell -59.7% from the previous frame, playing in 4,055 theaters and scoring a $2,669 per-screen average. After three weeks, the blockbuster-wannabe has racked up $135.8 million domestically and has pulled in another $200.3 million from abroad, bringing its current worldwide gross to $336.1 million.

In third place was Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog with $8.1 million. The PG-rated live-action film based on the popular kids’ book series about a giant, loveable canine dipped -51.3% from the previous weekend and has accumulated $33.5 million domestically after two weeks. The tail-wagging tale, which is also currently streaming on Paramount+ and stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, and SNL’s Kenan Thompson, played in 3,628 theaters and earned a $2,232 per-screen average. The film will not open internationally until next month.

Limping into fourth place was Warner Bros.’ King Richard with $5.7 in its opening set. The inspirational drama starring Will Smith as Richard Williams and Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as his tennis-sensation daughters Venus and Serena Williams, lagged behind industry expectations which had the awards-hopeful bowing in the vicinity of $10 million. Some of that disappointment, no doubt, can be attributed to the fact that the film debuted simultaneously on HBO Max, but its first-week performance still feels like an unforced error. The PG-13-rated movie bowed in 3,302 theaters and eked out a $1,726 per-screen average. Still, with a straight ‘A’ grade from CinemaScore and a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film should have fared better. King Richard added $2.5 million overseas, bringing its cumulative worldwide tally to $8.2 million after its first weekend.

Rounding out the Top Five was Warner Bros.’ sci-fi spectacle Dune, which pulled in a little under $3.1 million in its fifth week in theaters. The PG-13-rated film, which is also playing on HBO Max and stars Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Isaac dropped off -44.7% from the prior weekend, earning a $1,242 per-screen average at 2,467 locations. Its total domestic take now stands at $98.2 million, putting it on track to break the $100 million barrier later this week. So far, Dune has pulled in a far spicier $268.9 million from abroad, bringing its combined worldwide total to $367.1 million.

Meanwhile, in just five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, writer-director Mike Mills’ buzzy black-and-white drama C’mon C’mon opened in seventeenth place with $134,447. That may not sound like much, but the R-rated indie from A24, which chronicles the relationship between a radio journalist (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman), snagged a $26,889 per-screen average—which is the strongest per-location showing of the year, beating out The French Dispatch’s $25,938. And finally, there was one other factoid of note: MGM’s latest 007 installment, No Time to Die, finally vaulted past F9: The Fast Saga to become the highest-grossing Hollywood movie of 2021. After seven weeks, the spy sequel has pulled in $734.1 million worldwide (versus F9’s $721.1 million). Well done, Mr. Bond.