The two biggest questions this weekend in the entertainment industry are how much will Ghostbusters make and will it be profitable?
To figure out how much, we need to first figure out the target audience. Is it adult women looking for a girls’ night out, is it people who like 3D horror movies or are parents going to bring their kids?
There was talk that this was a girl-power movie and there would be lots of young girls and their moms, and some dads, in the theater cheering on the screen. But with Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets still in the theaters, and Ice Age: Collision Course coming next week that seems unlikely. And since none of the marketing that I’ve seen is pushing the 3D angle or the scary factor, I’m going to rule out that demo as well. What we are left with is the obvious appeal to women who want to drag their dates to a non comic book movie.
So let’s dig deeper and look into past female comedies that were successful. The first that comes to mind is Bridesmaids, which opened in the US with $26MM and went on to gross an impressive $170MM. That’s a very high 6.5 multiple (170/26), meaning it had legs in theaters. To put that into perspective, the average blockbuster (Captain America, Dead Pool) has a 2.5 multiple, which means it’s heavily weighted those first few weekends. Bridesmaid resonated internationally as well and added $120MM to bring their global gross to $290MM.
A few more female comedies to mention: Spy (also staring Melissa McCarthy) premiered with $29MM and had a US gross of $110MM, with a multiple of 3.8. It earned $125MM outside the US for a $235MM global gross. The Heat, another Melissa McCarthy film, had an opening weekend of $39MM, a total US gross of $160MM and a multiple of 4.1. The Heat (you can guess the star) earned $70MM outside the US, which brought its global gross to $230MM. And lastly, let’s look at Trainwreck, which had no overlap in actresses, but appeals to the same audience. That earned $30MM its opening weekend and finished its US run with $110MM and a 3.7 multiple. Globally it added only $30MM for a total gross of $140MM.
Now back to Ghostbusters. The experts are predicting an opening weekend of $30-50MM. Let’s be generous and take the high end and give it a 4.0 multiple which is the average among three of the four films mentioned above. Bridesmaids’s 6.5 was an anomaly. That means Ghostbusters generates $200MM in the US alone. Then add a generous $120MM globally (what Bridesmaids brought in) and the total global gross is an impressive $320MM. Now some of you may point out that China has elected not to show Ghostbusters and that will negatively impact revenue. However, none of these other films premiered in China and two grossed over $100MM internationally.
At $320MM globally, it makes the movie a treat for the studios involved, right? Not so fast. In the US, the theater chains keep 50% of gross revenue, while internationally, it can be as high as 75%. That drops that $320MM figure down to $130MM (200x.5, 120x.25). Unfortunately, with a 144MM production budget and an estimated $50-100+MM in marketing costs it could be a scary weekend for Sony/Village Roadshow.