‘Ghostbusters’ Sequel Hopes Dashed: Blame Box Office

Ghostbusters is now in its third weekend at the box office, and by all accounts winding down in terms of performance.

The all-female-led reboot of the classic 1980s sci-fi comedy landed with a large opening weekend starting July 15 but quickly receded amid mixed reviews and a politically charged culture.

It also failed to score as wide of a release as most modern blockbusters, being banned from the lucrative China market altogether.

Currently, Box Office Mojo has the film sitting at a worldwide box office total of $135.4 million. While that sounds respectable, it isn’t. Here’s why.

Sony (perhaps unwisely) approved director Paul Feig and his quartet of funny ladies with a budget of $144 million.

The staggering amount was a mistake in the sense that the film would have probably made the same amount on a budget of $50 million or $75 million since the primary draw of these films is the comedy.

The first Ghostbusters cost $30 million to make in 1984. Its total adjusted gross is just under $700 million, according to BOM. (It grossed $295 million at the time of its release.)

Ghostbusters II did not perform as strongly and thus set the franchise in hiatus for a few decades before the Feig-led comeback.

Even so, GII managed to pull in $215 million worldwide in 1989 (the domestic adjusted gross of $112 million would translate to $245 million in today’s terms, so it was an unquestionable smash like its predecessor).

The fact that Ghostbusters 2016 will barely make back its budget (probably) isn’t a good sign for what should have been an extremely lucrative franchise.


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What that means for the future of the series is anybody’s guess, and while no official word has been handed down, it is not likely you will see a sequel unless the following criteria are met.

Firstly, a theoretical 21st Century Ghostbusters II would need to have a stronger reception with critics and audiences alike. Currently, the Rotten Tomatoes score for the film is a “fresh” 73 percent among critics, but audiences “failed” the movie giving it just 58 percent.

Support for the film is there, critically speaking, but it’s pretty tepid. It does indicate, however, that the franchise could recover if it were funnier and aimed more at general audiences.

But beyond that, production costs for a Ghostbusters II 21st Century edition would have to come way down from this first film.

Spending $144 million on a movie that can’t play China (for political reasons) is a recipe for disaster, especially when the gender switch prospect was seen by many as politically correct within the film’s country of origin.

Now take the “PC” accusations here, and amplify them in nations with worse human rights records than the U.S. That cuts down a great deal of the foreign market that could make an expensive movie like this one successful.

Regardless of how studios might feel about making political and social change, they’re unlikely to get behind a film that is behind the proverbial 8-ball from the outset in an age when Hollywood is marketing more and more to foreign audiences.

But what do you think, readers? Was the Ghostbusters reboot worthy of a sequel, and do you think its box office failure has more to do with quality or politics? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Image via Sony]