Ghostbusters: Afterlife Scores Estimated $40.5 Million Opening Weekend, Lower Than 2016 Reboot

Hold on to your proton packs, "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is at the top of this week's box office. 

Variety reports that the fourth film in the "Ghostbusters" franchise is estimated to earn around $40.5 million on its opening weekend, outperforming the original projection of $27-$30 million. Heading toward the Thanksgiving weekend, Sony is anticipating the film will continue to rake in the marshmallows thanks to positive word-of-mouth and the reunion of families for the holiday looking for entertainment they share together. 

The 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot, which was so unfairly maligned before even releasing, earned $46 million in its opening weekend, finishing second behind "The Secret Life of Pets" which nabbed $50.8 million. To be fair to "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," the 2016 film didn't have to contend with a pandemic. Also, "Afterlife" was reportedly made for roughly half the budget of "Ghostbusters" 2016, which means that despite a slightly lower opening weekend it's on track to be a modest hit at the box office.

Fortunately, directors Jason Reitman ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife") and Paul Feig ("Ghostbusters" 2016)are both lovely human beings who support one another, and don't feel the need to pit Ghostbusters against one another.

Ghost Bustin' is for the Children

While the original "Ghostbusters" debuted in 1984 and became a lifetime favorite for Gen X, the franchise has enjoyed longevity thanks to the "Real Ghostbusters" animated series trickling into the early 1990s and the continued intergenerational sharing as Gen X and Millennials have gone on to have children of their own. According to Comscore and Screen Engine's PostTrack, nearly a third of the audience of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" were comprised of families or an adult accompanying a child under the age of twelve. The movie has been given a CinemaScore of A- based on audience polling, which is one grade above the B+ given to "Ghostbusters" (2016).

The "Ghostbusters" films have historically centered on adults, but "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" focuses on the family of Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), which includes daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and grandchildren Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Part of the "Ghostbusters" legacy is the film's ability to be used as a gateway genre film to help younger audiences transition from family-friendly fare into more intense or spooky films. "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" continues the tradition, and leans even harder into the family-friendly vibe, so it's no shocker that a huge chunk of the audience consists of small humans. That said, the remaining percentage of the audience were viewers over the age of 25, the target demo for anything making a comeback that was cool in the 1980s.

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is in theaters now.