‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Earns $45 Million Box Office Opening

Sony/Columbia’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is off to a decent start with a $45 million box office opening weekend from 4,345 theaters, enough to push the lifetime grosses for the 1980s supernatural comedy franchise past $1 billion over five films.

Hitting the upper end of pre-release projections, “Frozen Empire” is opening a step above the $44 million launch that “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” earned in November 2021 during the uneven COVID rebuilding period for theaters. The film still has a way to turn a theatrical profit as it sports a reported $100 million budget cofinanced by Columbia and TSG.

Critics have been tepid on the film with a 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes while opening weekend audiences, many of whom are longtime “Ghostbusters” fans, have been more positive with a B+ on CinemaScore and a 4/5 overall rating on PostTrak. Still, that’s not as strong as the A- that “Afterlife” earned.

Whether or not “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” earns any considerable theatrical profit will likely be determined by how well it holds during the Easter holiday next weekend, when moviegoing for the spring period reaches its peak with the highest number of students out on spring break. Competition will be stiff as Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” will be out in theaters with projections of a $50-53 million opening.

A pair of indie horror films, Neon’s “Immaculate” and IFC/Shudder’s “Late Night With the Devil” also hit theaters this weekend, with “Immaculate” meeting box office projections with a $5 million opening from 2,354 theaters, putting it in fourth place on the charts.

Starring Sydney Sweeney as an American nun who finds a horrific secret in an Italian convent, “Immaculate” got generally positive reviews from its SXSW premiere with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes score, but was a dud with audiences as it received a C+ on CinemaScore.

“Late Night With the Devil,” which also premiered at SXSW, stars David Dastmalchian as a struggling 1970s late night talk show host who hosts a Halloween episode about demonic possession that turns deadly. The film received IFC Films’ widest release ever at 1,034 theaters and subsequently set an opening weekend record for the indie distributor with a $2.8 million launch.

The film has earned much better reception than “Immaculate” with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 96% critics and 82% audience, with IFC hoping that the film’s word of mouth allows it to find a cult audience. However, the film has been the subject of controversy due to the use of AI-generated art for a trio of title cards in the film.

Among holdovers, Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Dune: Part Two” continues to hold exceptionally well even as it has lost a substantial portion of its premium format support to “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” With $17.6 million grossed in its fourth weekend, the film only dropped 37% from its previous weekend and has earned $233 million at the domestic box office after passing $500 million worldwide this past Monday.

Just behind it is Universal/DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda 4” with $16.8 million in its third weekend. With $133 million grossed in North America so far, the animated film will pass the $143 million domestic run of “Kung Fu Panda 3” this coming week.

Overseas, “Kung Fu Panda 4” opened to $25.7 million in China, roughly half of the franchise-high $51.4 million opening that “Kung Fu Panda 3” earned in 2016 but a solid performance considering the diminished interest in Hollywood films among Chinese audiences. That decline will likely keep “KFP4” from reaching its predecessor’s $521 million global run, but the film is keeping pace with “KFP3” in all other countries with a running global total of $268 million.

Finally, Lionsgate’s “Arthur the King” completed the top 5 with a $4.3 million second weekend, dropping around 42% from the film’s lower-than-expected $7.5 million start. The film has a $14.6 million running domestic total against a budget of around $19 million.

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