Ghostbusters reboot facing steep losses, sequel unlikely

The Hollywood Reporter published a story Wednesday on the fate of the 2016 Ghostbusters film and its potential sequels. The news for the film’s fans, and opponents of the patriarchy everywhere, is not good:

As of Aug. 7, Ghostbusters had earned just under $180 million at the global box office, including $117 million domestic. The film still hasn’t opened in a few markets, including France, Japan and Mexico, but box-office experts say it will have trouble getting to $225 million despite a hefty net production budget of $144 million plus a big marketing spend. The studio has said break-even would be $300 million.

It’s not clear how the film could break even with $300 million when it cost $144 million to produce and another $100 million (roughly) to advertise. Given the normal split between exhibitors (theater chains) and the distributor, the film probably needs $500 million to break even. In fact, that’s the figure that director Paul Feig said would be the break even point. In any case, falling short at the box office means that two potential sequels are not likely to happen:

Film chief Tom Rothman and his team, along with partner Village Roadshow, had high hopes for launching a live-action Ghostbusters “universe.” Now they are preparing for steep losses (think $70 million-plus) and an uncertain future for the franchise.

Sony won’t comment on whether it has banished a sequel to the netherworld, but perhaps tellingly, a rep says the studio actively is pursuing an animated Ghostbusters feature that could hit theaters in 2019 and an animated TV series, Ghostbusters: Ecto Force, which is eyeing an early 2018 bow.

Personally, I was never against this film beyond thinking the first trailer looked unfunny and not very appealing. But it’s not as if this is the first time a reboot of a popular franchise has made me cringe. Those Star Wars prequels were pretty awful. And Prometheus…I really hated that movie. Hollywood often disappoints us, especially when it starts from a childhood high point like Star Wars, Aliens or, in this case, Ghostbusters.

But still, I could have been won over by this, at least potentially. Where Ghostbusters 2016 lost me completely was when a negative reaction to a bad trailer suddenly led the film’s creators to embrace the idea their movie was part of a social justice cause and to further imply anyone who didn’t join the cause was probably a misogynist hater. That’s a lot of heavy baggage for a movie about ghost-high jinks to carry. Don’t you think?

So at this point, even though I like some of these actresses and at least one of the director’s previous movies, I’m not sorry their campaign to politicize a popcorn movie failed. Because if it hadn’t failed we’d surely be seeing a lot more campaigns like it in the future. No one needs that.