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Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now

Posted on the 01 August 2016 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now

This is the week 3 update. Here's a link to the week 2 update and the week 4 update.

What Sony is currently facing with Ghostbusters is an all-too-familiar story these days: Confronted with dwindling domestic box office returns and record low attendance Hollywood turns its weary eyes toward Italy, Russia, India, Germany, France and Japan and all of those other individual territories which add up to make the all-important international market. However, the cost of mounting a worldwide release is so extreme and our social media-obsessed attention spans so remarkably short that the studios throw as much money as possible at production and marketing budgets, hoping to hook us with universally understandable action spectacle and a near constant stream of promotional materials. As a result, the movie in question must perform at peak potential to turn a profit, and if it doesn't the collapsing home video market probably won't be riding in as a savior a year down the road.

And, wouldn't you know it, Ghostbusters is not a peak performer. If it hadn't cost so much it would be a different story, but with a production budget of $144m and marketing spend of $100m it's falling at an alarming rate in the U.S. and Canada and now looking elsewhere for financial salvation.


Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now
After Ghostbusters' $46m opening set career highs for nearly everyone involved, it plunged on par with Adam Sandler's Pixels and Melissa McCarthy's The Boss in its second weekend, and is still roughly on par with Pixels in its third weekend but not so much The Boss anymore:

Ghostbusters at least has a current domestic haul of $106m, which is not too horribly far behind the summer's current action-comedy king Central Intelligence ($125m). The difference, though, is Central Intelligence cost nearly $100m less to make, and turned into one of the leggier movies of the summer, benefiting from strong word-of-mouth with a 3.5x opening-weekend-to-total-domestic-gross multiplier (if you don't know what I mean by "multiplier" check out The-Numbers.com's glossary for the definition). Ghostbusters' word-of-mouth, on the other hand, appears to fall more in the Pixels territory, and if that holds up its ceiling is $150.9m domestic, which would be an identical multiplier to Pixels. However, with Jason Bourne, Star Trek Beyond and Bad Moms around and Suicide Squad on the way Ghostbusters is facing far stronger competition than Pixels did late last summer.

If you're curious, here's how Ghostbusters ' weekly declines compares to director Paul Feig's prior movies:

Its clearly front-loaded in ways no Feig movie has been before. Sony can at least take comfort in the fact Ghostbusters will soon pass Spy (a 20th Century Fox release) in domestic gross, but it's going to fall short of The Heat and Bridesmaids:

Yet those all cost so much less to make. It's a reminder of how Ghostbusters' budget shapes the narrative and morphs expectations, making it more comparable to a Marvel Studios origin story movie or a Mission Impossible sequel.

In fact, here's how Ghostbusters stacks up next to recent (2011-present) live-action films with a similar budget level ($135m-$150m), regardless of genre or month of release. I selected 2011 as the cut-off year because that's basically when China's entire entertainment industry started its insane five-year growth spurt, hitting a record $6.8 billion in box office revenue in 2015 compared to just $1.51 billion in 2011. Not coincidentally, the international market has accounted for at least 69% of the global box office per year over that stretch, and every film on this list leaned on the international market for over half, in some cases as high as 70% of their worldwide haul.

As I previously acknowledged, this is a knowingly imperfect comparison. Films of different genres (or those at different stages in their franchise history) don't follow identical box office patterns. Not all of the films had the benefit of 3D pricing. Plus, time of year and level of competition matters, and while all of these films were in the same production budget range that doesn't mean their marketing budgets were the same. Plus, the secondary merchandising opportunities for something like Ghostbusters vastly differs from something like Fury Road.

That being said, after 17 days Ghostbusters has fallen too far off pace with those successful films in its budget range. I have to widen the parameters to find its closet comp, namely Prometheus, Fox's $130m-budgeted franchise revival which made around $50m in its opening weekend, sat at $108m domestic after 17 days and topped out at $126m. Ghostbusters will probably beat that total, but not necessarily by much. Of course, Prometheus made up for its domestic shortcomings with $276m overseas, enough to get a sequel, but low enough that the sequel is taking 5 years to arrive. Will the international market similarly answer Ghostbusters ' call?


Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now
It's going to be tough. Comedies don't travel well. Case in point: Central Intelligence has a tepid $77m in foreign box office right now compared to a domestic cume of $125m. On top of that, according to IMDB Ghostbusters does not currently have a release date in 2 of the top 5 international box office markets, specifically China (#1) and South Korea (#5). There have been similar budgeted films (i.e., Fury Road, Prometheus) to get by without China, but they did so thanks to big performances in the UK, where Fury Road topped out at $27m and Prometheus reached $39m, nearly double its next leading foreign market (Japan). Ghostbusters, on the other hand, has a so-so $12m from the UK after 3 weeks compared to Fury Road and Prometheus ' 3-week UK totals of $21m and $30m.

Still, Ghostbusters is at least faring better than Central Intelligence, accumulating $51.7m international over 3 weeks, including $7.9m in Australia and #1 openings in Russia and Italy this weekend. It also opened in India this weekend, but made less than $1m. In the weeks to come, it has scheduled releases in 4 of the top 10 international box office markets, specifically Japan (#3), France (#6), Germany (#7) and Mexico (#9), and it's already playing in #'s 2 (UK), 4 (India), 8 (Australia) and 10 (Russia).

However, without China and with only so-so business in the UK Ghstbusters' break-even point of $300m worldwide is not going to come easy. Even if it does (and even if $300m truly is the break-even point, which some people question) that's still not a good result for an intended franchise launch. That's a result which makes the studio's bean counters feel better; it's not a result which emboldens you declare the film an unqualified success.

But, then again, they are selling a lot of toys.

Ghostbusters worldwide haul as of 8/1/16:

Ghostbusters Week 3 Box Office: Yep, They Need the Foreign Market to Save Them Now
Source: Deadline

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