We don’t yet know the future for Sony’s Ghostbusters. The film’s (as of this writing) $46 million debut weekend is a high water mark for most of the participants and the second-biggest live-action debut of the year for a movie that isn’t an animated feature or a superhero movie (it’s ninth overall). But it cost $144m to produce, with uncertain overseas prospects to boot. So, the question becomes, what exactly is the barometer of success for this picture? Well, if the long-term goal for Sony and Village Roadshow is to reboot the Ghostbusters franchise, then its legacy may well be determined not just by how well the Paul Feig/Katie Dippold picture performs but also by how well it whets the appetite for an anticipated second installment.
As I have discussed a few times this summer, the newfangled franchise building scenario means that a would-be opening shot has to make money and get audiences excited for a sequel down the road to be considered a complete success. Warner Bros./Time Warner TWX -0.93% Inc.’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made $872 million worldwide but left general audiences indifferent or hostile to the direction of the DC Films universe. Universal/Comcast CMCSA -0.03% Corp.’s Warcraft made, I would argue, about as much money as anyone could have expected. But a $432m worldwide cume didn’t mean much when audiences so swiftly rejected the picture in nearly every market worldwide. But let’s presume that Ghostbusters doesn’t make $500m worldwide but instills great excitement from those who do see it about the future of the brand. Is it a hit then?