‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Spooks Up $40.5 Million Opening at Box Office

“King Richard” joins other adult dramas in box office doldrums with $6.5 million start

box office ghostbusters-afterlife-paul-rudd
Sony Pictures

After weeks of robust business, this weekend’s box office charts is showing the more subdued numbers seen back in August as Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is No. 1 with $16.5 million grossed from 4,315 locations and an estimated opening of $40.5 million.

That figure is above the very conservative $27-28 million projections put forth by Sony and above the $31-35 million range estimated by independent trackers and rival distributors; but it is also below the $46 million earned by the all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters” in 2016.

The good news is that while that reboot flopped with a $144 million production budget, “Afterlife” has a lower bar to clear for profitability with a spend of just $75 million before marketing. “Ghostbusters” fans who watched the film on opening night are also pleased with an A- on CinemaScore and a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score. Sony is hoping that the strong word of mouth will roll into Thanksgiving weekend and possibly beyond and give “Afterlife” a strong hold.

Also opening this weekend is Warner Bros.’ “King Richard,” which grossed $1.9 million from 3,302 locations and is estimated for an opening of just $6.5 million, below projections of a $10 million start and settling at No. 4 on the charts.

Reception has been very strong for the Will Smith biopic about Richard Williams — father of tennis greats Serena and Venus — with an A on CinemaScore and a 92% critics and 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. But the low numbers show just how difficult it has been for adult dramas at the box office. “King Richard” is set to do better than the $4.4 million for Warner’s previous adult drama “Cry Macho” from Clint Eastwood, but the top opening for the genre this year remains United Artists’ “Respect” at $8.8 million.

Among holdovers, Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” is second with an estimated $11 million grossed in its third weekend for a total of $136 million, while Paramount’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” is holding on well with just a 49% weekend drop to $8.5 million and a two-weekend total of $33 million. Warner Bros.’ “Dune” completes the Top 5 with around $3 million in its fifth weekend, bringing it to a total of $98 million domestically.