Sony expects Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the fourth entry to the beloved franchise and the first in five years, to float to the top spot in its domestic box office debut, with an aim to generate $30 million from a 4,300 theatre wide release. The Warner Bros. sports biopic King Richard, starring Will Smith as the patriarch of the Williams tennis dynasty, is the film's only competition on wide release, projected to collect up to $10 million with a simultaneous release on HBO Max, per Variety.
According to Variety, the final weekend figures could vary slightly, with "the studio predicting a three-day tally near $28 million and independent tracking services estimating a start closer to $35 million." Either way, the studio should be happy with a first-place finish for the franchise sequel, which has polarised critics since it premiered at New York Comic Con in October. Many of the film's unexpected turns and cameos have already been revealed in the run-up through Sony's marketing campaign, but in our recent interview with Jason Reitman, director of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and son of original Ghostbusters maestro Ivan, he noted that the film still boasts a number of surprises, even if you've seen all the trailers.
King Richard, on the other hand, has won near-universal praise from critics and is widely considered to be the "feel good" entry of this year's awards season. Smith's role has earned particularly loud acclaim, with many prognosticators tipping him to take the Best Actor statuette come next Spring. In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week, Smith revealed that Venus and Serena Williams, on whose early life the film is largely based, only agreed to attach their names to the film as executive producers on the condition it was good. So, they held off until they'd actually seen it. On this, Smith noted: "It is terrifying when you play a real person that is still alive, and you know that they're going to see it. [...] Venus and Serena cried all the way through; they loved it."
Warners arguably have a bigger test on their hands, given it has struggled to break out at the box office with films releasing day-and-date on HBO Max, but the feel-good flick has been a favorite with public audiences at festivals and should benefit from strong word of mouth.
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their role from the first Ghostbusters films in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, while Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd have joined the cast. The film is set for release on November 19.
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