Ghostbusters: Afterlife scared away the competition at the box office, debuting at the number one spot with an estimated $40.5 million in its opening weekend. Directed by Jason Reitman, the film exceeded Sony’s high $30 million forecast after raking in $4.5 million in Thursday previews, and another $16.5 million on Friday.
Sony bet big on the comedy sequel, which keeps the first two Ghostbusters films in canon but ignores 2016’s all-female reboot that made roughly $6 million more in its opening weekend. The nostalgia-heavy Afterlife was screened weeks ahead of its debut, signaling the studio’s confidence in it. This appears to have paid off with the strong box office haul, and the solid “A” CinemaScore grade given to it by opening day audiences.
Set in a small Oklahoma town, Afterlife introduces a new set of characters, played by Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, and Mckenna Grace. When spooky events begin to unfold in the town, the kids band together and take a plunge into the past. Original stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts also reprise their roles from the 1984 classic directed by Ivan Reitman, who serves as a producer on Afterlife.
Marvel’s worst-reviewed film, Eternals, came in at the number two spot with an estimated $11 million. The film has made around $135 million domestically, against a reported budget of $200 million. Internationally, the film recently crossed the $300 million mark. But there’s no denying that this isn’t the sort of performance you’d expect from a Marvel Cinematic Universe film directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao and featuring stars such as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, and Richard Madden. It remains to be seen if Marvel and Disney can save face with December's Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Coming in at the number three spot was Clifford the Big Red Dog, which dropped around 50% and made an estimated $8 million in its second weekend. The film’s running domestic total stands at over $30 million, and it is playing in 3,638 theaters.
The week’s second major new release, Warner Bros’ King Richard, debuted with an estimated $5.9 million, which isn’t good for a film starring Will Smith in the lead role. Based on the story of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams, and their father Richard Williams, the film is also available on the HBO Max streaming service as a part of WB’s controversial 2021 release strategy. As has been observed throughout the year, the day-and-date debuts of WB movies have affected their pull at the box office.
While King Richard clearly wasn’t attractive enough for audiences to make a trip to the theaters, fellow WB film Dune’s big-screen appeal has translated to almost $100 million at the domestic box office. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the sprawling science-fiction film finished the weekend at the number five spot, with an estimated $3 million. A sequel has already been greenlit on the back of the film’s solid performance at the box office and on streaming.
Next weekend will see the release of Disney’s Encanto and director Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci.
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