July 16, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Ghostbusters” No Scare For “Pets”


The $17.1M opening day (including $3.4M from Thursday night) for GHOSTBUSTERS (Columbia/Sony) reported in preliminary numbers at Deadline would be fine if the movie were at the same budget level as previous Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy collaborations The Heat or Spy.  But Ghostbusters cost 2-3x as much, $275M+ including production and global marketing, and a $45M weekend won’t get it very far along the road to profit.  The number is about 15-20% higher than the opening for The Legend of Tarzan, another expensive would-be franchise, and suggests a US total of $125-150M.  (Movies aimed at a female audience are often frontloaded, and while McCarthy’s projects have frequently been exceptions to that rule with healthy multiples, Ghostbusters is also intended for the action-movie crowd, which may move on to Star Trek next weekend.)  But unlike Tarzan, it’s not clear whether Ghostbusters will be allowed a run in China, because of that country’s rules against supernatural subject matter, and that would put a significant dent in its chances of recouping its US shortfall internationally.  The result may not be an outright flop, but it also doesn’t look like a promising franchise launch.

The weekend’s other moderately wide opening is the unprepossessing THE INFILTRATOR (Broad Green), at 1601 theatres, which will soon be on its way to home viewing with a $1.5M Friday and $4.5M weekend ($6M since its Wednesday opening).

Ghostbusters isn’t likely to win the weekend, thanks to a decent hold for THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (Illumination/Universal), coming off last week’s giant $104.4M opening, the biggest for an animated non-sequel in history.  The Friday-to-Friday drop was 60% to $15.3M, a bit worse than the 58% drop that Finding Dory had on its 2d Friday, and better than the 68% drop for Minions.  The weekend should be around $50M, putting Pets on track for $300M+, a total that may be negatively affected by next week’s arrival of the newest Ice Age installment.

FINDING DORY (Pixar/Disney) should have a $11M weekend, which would put it at $445M, setting a new all-time US record for an animated film (passing Shrek 2‘s 12-year-old $441.5M), with the possibility of reaching $475M.

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (Village Roadshow/RatPac/Warners) continues on its moderate path, down 48% from last Friday to $3.2M and heading for a $10-11M weekend, which will allow it to pass $100M in the US and perhaps reach $125M–which, as noted, puts it in need of some strong overperformance overseas to break even.

MIKE & DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (TSG/20th) isn’t showing much staying power, down 65% from last Friday to $2.3M, with a likely $7M weekend leaving it at $31M, with little hope of getting much past $50M.

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR (Blumhouse/Universal) dropped 53% Friday-to-Friday to $1.9M and a $6M weekend, which will put it just $1M away from becoming the highest-grossing chapter in the franchise at $71M.

Audiences are clearly happy with CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (New Line/RatPac/Universal/Warners), which wasn’t hurt at all by the arrival of Ghostbusters.  It slipped just 39% from last Friday to $1.5M, with a $5M weekend ahead, and should pass $125M before it’s done.

Woody Allen’s CAFE SOCIETY (Amazon/Lionsgate) is generally being ranked as mid-level late Allen, neither as good as Midnight In Paris or Blue Jasmine, nor as bad as Magic in the Moonlight or Irrational Man, and the box office is behaving likewise, with a probable $65K per-theatre weekend average at 5, compared to the $102K average for Jasmine at 6 and the $25K average for Irrational at 7.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Bleecker Street) had an OK expansion to 36 theatres with a likely $5500 weekend average.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."