WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Ghostbusters: Afterlife Captures No. 1 Finish w/ $44M; Eternals ($10.8M) Drops 60% to 2nd Place; King Richard Posts Soft $5.7M Debut

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Image Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters: Afterlife debuted in first place at the North American box office this weekend with an estimated $44M from 4,315 locations, thanks to strong interest from both older audiences – many of whom were children when the first movie was released – and younger viewers lured in by the fresh-faced cast. The weekend’s other wide debut, Warner Bros.’ King Richard, disappointed with a fourth-place finish, serving as a further testament to older audiences’ reluctance to return to the multiplex amid the ongoing pandemic.

A true four-quadrant tentpole, Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife skyrocketed past the studio’s (admittedly conservative) projections of $27-28 million and landed roughly in the middle of Boxoffice Pro‘s own forecast. Originally slated for release in June 2020, the latest entry in the beloved franchise didn’t quite reach the heights of the all-woman reboot that debuted to $46.02M in July 2016 — but of course one must always account for the unprecedented nature of the current theatrical environment. Considering that, Afterlife’s debut is an impressive one, ranking ninth among all opening frames this year. The film was certainly helped by its wide footprint on PLF and IMAX screens, where it screened in 847 and 400 locations, respectively ($3.7M of the weekend total in North America came from IMAX screens). Notably, special advance previews for the film were held on IMAX screens on Wednesday night, though it’s unclear whether the studio rolled those grosses into the Friday number.

Certainly, the return of most of the original Ghosbusters’ lead actors (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts) was a strong draw for older audiences, not to mention the fact that Jason Reitman – son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman – was at the helm.

It’s worth speculating that Afterlife may have soared even higher in its debut if vaccination rates were higher among children ages 5-11, who weren’t eligible to receive a shot until earlier this month. Even the small percentage of kids who’ve already received a shot won’t be fully vaccinated until sometime in December, and many parents of children in that age bracket are likely still hesitant about bringing their kids to the theater.

Reviews for Afterlife were mixed, with the film just barely crossing the “Fresh” threshold on Rotten Tomatoes at 62%. Some critics have complained that the new entry leans too heavily on the “fan service” element, though of course, that’s one of the main reasons many adults turned out to see it in the first place. To that point, Afterlife has been received much more positively by audiences, who gave it an A- Cinemascore (vs. the 2016 Ghostbusters’ B+), along with a super 96% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes and 4 stars on PostTrack among general audiences, 4 1/2 stars among children and 5 stars among parents. Depending on how word-of-mouth goes – and all indications right now are positive – the film could boast good holds in the coming weeks, including over the coming Thanksgiving frame given that it has no direct competition among the crop of titles which are slated to release on Wednesday (House of Gucci, Encanto and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City).

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE DIRECTOR JASON REITMAN:

Dropping to second place after occupying the top spot for two consecutive weekends was Disney/Marvel’s Eternals, which fell 60% to an estimated $10.8M in its third weekend. That’s another relatively steep drop for the MCU pic, which fell 62% last weekend. The tentpole has $135.8M to date, which is running roughly 23% behind Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and 12% behind Black Widow at the same point in their respective runs.

Third place went to Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog, which dropped 51% to an estimated $8.1M following its $16.63M debut last weekend. The family release has $33.51M to date.

The weekend’s other wide opener, Warner Bros. King Richard, posted a disappointing debut in fourth place with an estimated $5.7M from 3,302 locations, which is at the lower end of expectations. The Will Smith title, a biographical drama centering on the father and coach of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, debuted day-and-date on HBO Max, which no doubt cut into its theatrical numbers. The simultaneous streaming release is especially relevant given the movie’s target demo, which is largely adults over the age of 35 – i.e., older viewers who tend to be more cautious of COVID-19 in general. Speaking of which, 55% of the opening weekend audience for King Richard was 35-plus, while 33% was over the age of 50. Women, meanwhile, turned out in greater numbers than men (60% vs. 40%).

On the plus side, King Richard scored strong reviews, boasting a solid 92% average on Rotten Tomatoes. Along with positive word-of-mouth – it has an “A” Cinemascore, 5 stars from general audiences on PostTrak and a 99% Audience Score on RT – the film could hold well in the weeks ahead, particularly with Oscar buzz swirling around Smith’s performance.

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH KING RICHARD DIRECTOR REINALDO MARCUS GREEN:

Fifth, sixth and seventh place went to a trio of fading fall blockbusters: Dune, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and No Time to Die. Grossing $3.07M, $2.8M and $2.71M, respectively, the adult-oriented action titles have now taken in $98.19M, $206.5M and $154.69M to date. Dune should surpass the $100M domestic mark by next weekend.

Searchlight Pictures’ The French Dispatch finished at No. 8 with an estimated $970k, lifting the Wes Anderson comedy to $13.3M through the end of its fifth weekend. Right behind that in ninth place was the critically-acclaimed Focus Features drama Belfast, which dropped 47% to an estimated $940k in tenth place for a total of $3.5M after two weekends of release. The studio will expand the Kenneth Branagh-directed film to roughly 1,000 theaters over the Thanksgiving frame.

Rounding out the top 10 is Disney/20th Century Studios’ animated release Ron’s Gone Wrong, which grossed an estimated $900k for a total of $22.1M after five weekends.

OVERSEAS

Eternals took in an estimated $22.7M from 49 territories, giving the MCU title $200.3M internationally and $336.1M globally. The film remained in the No. 1 spot in both Brazil and Russia this weekend, where it has $10.5M and $7.6M, respectively. Top-grossing markets include Korea ($25.2M), the U.K. ($17.3M), France ($13.7M) and Mexico ($13.3M). Eternals‘ release in China remains TBD.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife grossed an estimated $16M from 31 markets, including $5.8M in the U.K., $2.4M in Mexico, $1.4M in Italy and $1.2M in Germany. The Sony title is slated for release on Dec. 1 in France and South Korea, Dec. 2 in Russia and Spain, Jan. 1 in Australia and Feb. 4 in Japan.

No Time to Die grossed an estimated $13.41M from 72 territories, bringing its international total to $579.4M and its global tally to $733.99M worldwide. The James Bond sequel is now the highest-grossing MPA title of the pandemic, surpassing F9, which tallied $725.3M worldwide.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage added $6.8M to its international tally from 57 markets, lifting its overseas total to $248.2M and its global total to $454.7M. The Sony sequel will hit Australian screens on Nov. 25 and is slated for release in Japan on Dec. 3.

TitleWeekend EstimateScreensPSADomestic TotalWeekDistributor
Ghostbusters: Afterlife$44,000,0004315$10,197$44,000,0001Sony
Eternals$10,825,0004055$2,670$135,817,1633Disney
Clifford The Big Red Dog$8,100,0003628$2,233$33,512,8352Paramount
King Richard$5,700,0003302$1,726$5,700,0001Warner Bros.
Dune$3,065,0002467$1,242$98,191,9885Warner Bros.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage$2,800,0002230$1,256$206,500,0668Sony
No Time To Die$2,705,5662407$1,124$154,688,6937United Artists
The French Dispatch$970,000805$1,205$13,298,0435Searchlight
Belfast$940,000584$1,610$3,436,0102Focus Features
Ron’s Gone Wrong$888,0001520$584$22,098,722520th Century Studios
Spencer$690,076954$723$6,103,4633Neon Rated
Antlers$360,000690$522$10,319,8634Searchlight
Sooryavanshi$237,363215$1,104$3,341,7293Reliance
Last Night In Soho$214,000389$550$9,948,3554Focus Features
Halloween Kills$200,000627$319$91,890,0506Universal
India Sweets and Spices$172,597343$503$172,5971Bleecker Street
The First Wave$68,11511$6,192$68,1151Neon Rated
The Last Duel$67,000165$406$10,769,035620th Century Studios
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings$52,000120$433$224,553,52612Disney
Julia$42,28447$900$66,2642Sony Pictures Classics
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time$30,00068$441$30,0001IFC Films
Free Guy$21,00065$323$121,610,7141520th Century Studios

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