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411 Box Office Report: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Takes #1 With $45 Million

March 24, 2024 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
11296394 - GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE Image Credit: Jaap Buitendijk, Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures

It was an icy weekend atop the box office with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire racing its way to an easy win. The latest film in the supernatural comedy franchise took the top spot with a $45.2 million opening weekend, performing above the $40 million expectations most had for it. It’s a strong start for the film, topping the $44 million opening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife in late 2021 for the second best-start for the franchise. (The best opening still goes to the 2016 Ghostbuters, which started with $46 million).

The opening weekend reps a strong beginning for the film, which came into the weekend with only moderate buzz. The franchise has a lot of name value, but Afterlife only partially restored the franchise’s luster and critic reviews for the new film were lackluster at a 43% Rotten Tomatoes aggregated score, beating out Ghostbusters II’s 55% for the lowest of the film series. And audience members liked it less with an 84% RT audience score and a B+ CinemaScore (compared 94% and an A- for Afterlife).

The point here is that the franchise is proving it still has name value, and the film’s lean into nostalgia by bringing back most of the original cast again helped. The overseas numbers are fine, with $16.4 million in 25 markets and several other markets left to go.

Frozen Empire is well-positioned to make profit for the studio now, even with a somewhat larger budget than Afterlife at $100 million vs. $75 million. It should end up making around $130 million or so in the US and will be brought across the finish like by the international numbers.

Dune: Part Two didn’t take much of a hit from Ghostbusters, as the sci-fi action blockbuster was down just 38% in its fourth weekend with $17.8 million. The second part of Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the novels is already at a profit at this point with $233.4 million domestically and $574.4 million worldwide against a $190 million budget. The film is still tearing its way toward a $270 million ending point which will make Warner Bros. very happy.

Kung Fu Panda 4 was down two slots to #3 in its third week as it took in $16.8 million, down 44% from last frame. Panda was always more likely to take a hit from the family-friendly Ghostbusters than Dune, and it’s still looking in good shape with $133.2 million domestically and $268.2 million worldwide against an $80 million budget. This one is a hit for Universal and Dreamworks, with a $175 million likely ending gross in the US.

Religious horror claimed the #4 spot as Sidney Sweeney’s Immaculate claimed $5.4 million in its first frame. That’s right around where the nun-based horror flick was set to go. It’s a far cry from the opening numbers of The Nun but is a perfectly solid result that reps NEON’s best opening weekend to date.

Immaculate was a project that Sweeney shepherded into being, having produced the film as well as starring in it. The film earned decent if not stellar reviews with a 72% RT aggregate rating, though it is proving more divisive with fans at a 57% RT audience score and a C+ CinemaScore. Sweeney’s star power is what really carried the film, following on the success of her romcom Anyone But You, and while it certainly won’t have that film’s legs it should be able to make it to around $15 million or so which will be a fine result for a movie that cost around $7 million to $8 million to produce. This one will make its money once it heads to streaming, which is very much the NEON business model.

Mark Wahlberg’s Arthur The King slipped an okay 43% in its second weekend to take in $4.4 million. That’s not a bad hold, though it should also be noted that the drama disappointed last weekend by missing its $10 million expected mark. Arthur The King currently has $14.6 million domestically with no play yet overseas, and it should be able to make it to around $25 million which won’t be enough for profit in its theatrical run against a $19.5 million budget.

Coming in strong at #6 for a modest indie film was Late Night With the Devil. The David Dastmalchian-starring found footage horror film brought in $2.8 million, surpassing expectations that had it in the $1 million to $2 million range. That is far and away IFC’s best opening weekend, topping 2022’s Watcher which started with $827,000.

Late Night With the Devil came into its final week with a lot of buzz from horror audiences. The film has been lauded since its festival premiere at SXSW last year and carries a 96% RT aggregated score. However, there was some concern that a last-minute revelation of the use of AI-generated images for three interstitial moments could hurt its box office after intense pushback online. (The directors acknowledged “experimenting” with AI for the three images, which they “edited further” per their statement).

As it turned out, those concerns were unfounded; if anything, the controversy may have raised the film’s awareness among movie-goers. Late Night With the Devil cost less than $1 million and is positioned for a hefty amount of profit (and hopefully enough to entice the studio to replace those images for its eventual digital release). It’s not clear whether IFC will platform this up any further, but the film should be able to hit the high single digits stateside before the digital release.

Blumhouse’s Imaginary fell 50% in its third weekend as the new horror releases pushed it down the charts. The imaginary friend film brought in $2.8 million and carried its grosses to $23.6 million domestically and $28.4 million worldwide against a $10 million budget. It should end its run at around $30 million domestically, enough to make its studio happy.

Love Lies Bleeding had a good hold as it expanded, down 37% from its opening weekend with $1.6 million. The lesbian crime thriller now has $5.6 million domestically with no overseas play yet, and should end its run around $9 million or so. Still no word about its budget.

Angel Studios’ Cabrini was down 50% in its third weekend with $1.4 million. The period biopic is doing okay enough with $16.2 million domestically and $16.4 million worldwide. The end result should be around $20 million against a $6.4 million budget.

Bob Marley: One Love closed out the top 10 with $1.1 million, down 52% in its sixth weekend. The film arrived on digital last week and is already a success in its theatrical release with $95.3 million domestically and $173.4 million worldwide against a $70 million budget.

Next weekend will see kaiju atop the box office as Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is expected to take the top spot with $45 million. It’s the sole new high-profile wide release.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire – $45.2 million ($45.2 million total, $61.6 million WW)
2. Dune: Part Two – $17.6 million ($233.4 million total, $574.4 million WW)
3. Kung Fu Panda 4 – $16.8 million ($133.2 million total, $268.2 million WW)
4. Immaculate – $5.4 million ($5.4 million total, $5.4 million WW)
5. Arthur The King – $4.4 million ($14.6 million total, $14.6 million WW)
6. Late Night With the Devil – $2.8 million ($2.8 million total, $2.8 million WW)
7. Imaginary – $2.8 million ($23.6 million total, $28.4 million WW)
8. Love Lies Bleeding – $1.6 million ($5.6 million total, $5.6 million WW)
9. Cabrini – $1.4 million ($16.2 million total, $16.4 million WW)
10. Bob Marley: One Love – $1.1 million ($95.3 million total, $173.4 million WW)