Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Opens with $45 Million

The latest entry in the Ghostbusters franchise snagged the top spot, but Dune held on to No. 2 and a pair of new horror releases set records for their studios.

by | March 25, 2024 | Comments


Audiences said two weeks of Kung Fu Panda 4 and three weeks of Dune was enough. It’s time for some new blood… mingled with some old blood from 40 years ago. Actually, Dune and the Panda are doing just fine, and moviegoers have clearly not given up on them yet. But they also haven’t given up on the Ghostbusters, either, though signs suggest the franchise’s appeal may be waning a bit, or at least that it has a ceiling with fans who may not so readily accept it as a world-building fantasy instead of the joke-a-minute comedy it originally was.

King of the Crop: Audiences Call on Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire for $45 million Opening

When Ghostbusters: Afterlife opened during the holiday season of the second year of the pandemic, it began with a solid $44 million. That was less than the $46 million of the 2016 Paul Feig reboot with talented, funny women as its core busters. But, hey, a pandemic was on, and that could have been higher, right? Dune certainly proved that, as Part One had to push back against fear and HBO MAX streaming it to earn its $41 million opening. So here we are now with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, delayed from its original pre-Christmas opening to the start of Spring, where it went forward (a little) with an opening of $45.2 million.

Forget that its only the 28th-best opening in the month of March, though, and turn towards the positive. Only three movies have ever opened to $36 million or more this month and failed to reach $100 million. One of them was cut short because a pandemic started (Onward), the 2017 Power Rangers reboot was another, and last year’s Dungeons and Dragons reboot was the third. Uh-oh.

No, the odds are still very much in Frozen Empire’s favor, and it will cross $100 million, but how far will it ultimately go? All of the Ghostbusters movies have grossed over that total, with the low bar being back in 1989 when the first sequel earned $112 million (or roughly $281.5 million in today’s dollars). OK, so maybe the 2016 film is the low bar with $127.9 million. Or, if you use inflation on that ($165.4 million), then the pandemic era Afterlife is low with $129.3 million. Sony’s hope was that normal times being back again would have jumped Frozen Empire’s tally maybe into a $50 million opening. If the film cannot improve on its near $75 million haul internationally, then the $100 million production could end up as, well, a bust.

Fresh Surprise: Late Night with the Devil Sets IFC Films Record

This is a special one for both IFC Films and David Dastmalchian, as well as directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes. Their film, Late Night with the Devil, which premiered at last year’s SXSW film festival, opened in over 1,000 theaters this weekend and grossed $2.8 million. Why is this so special? Because it is the best opening weekend that IFC has ever had. The past two years have seen them getting films of theirs out with a wider release. Watcher, Skinamarink, Paint, The Lost King, and Blackberry all opened between 449-764 theaters. None of those grossed as much total as Devil did this weekend. IFC’s largest initial launch prior to this was the Jack Black comedy The D Train, in 1,009 theaters. It opened to around $469,000, dropped 96% the second weekend and finished with just $673,151.

A $2.8 million-plus start for Late Night with the Devil already puts it among the top 20 grossers in IFC’s history. This is a tremendous tribute as well to Dastmalchian, who has fast become one of the most welcome character actors in the business and whose appearance instantly signifies a positive moment in any film. This is his first lead role outside the films he has written, Animals (for which he was a guest of the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which I produce) and All Creatures Here Below (seek both of those films out), and it out-opened The Book of Clarence and Drive-Away Dolls, both of which opened on over 2,000 screens. And Certified Fresh at 97% on the Tomatometer, it is also not only one of the best-reviewed films of the year to date (of any sized opening) but the best for any film opening on 1,000 screens or more. And just for extra fun, IFC reported that the film grossed $666,666 on Sunday. Studios are known to report their numbers however they choose (within reason) to grab the weekend headlines, especially when certain rankings are at stake. But if that turns out to be the final number on Monday – RUN!

The Top 10 and Beyond: Dune: Part Two Hangs on to Second, Immaculate Is a Hit for Neon

Jumping onto a sandworm and over a panda this week is Dune: Part Two, maintaining its second place finish for a third straight week with $17.6 million. That brings its 24-day total to $233.4 million, the eighth-best ever for a March opening and just $8 million behind Zootopia ($241.4 million), a film that had a $24 million fourth weekend. Dune’s numbers are a bit closer in sync with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which had $229 million and a $15.6 million fourth frame in its day. As long as Dune stays just ahead of that, we’re talking a domestic gross in the $260-270 million range. Globally the film is over $574 million and well into profit. Dune: Messiah is calling. Calling Warner Bros. for a greenlight.

Dropping back to third place after a two-week run at the top is Kung Fu Panda 4, still doing well with $16.8 million. We told you last week that $200 million would be a long shot for the animated film, and that is even truer now with $133.2 million in 17 days. The film is starting to trail the pace of the animated film Home (remember that one?), which had an $18.5 million third weekend and $129 million after 17 days. That dynamic is poised to flip-flop, suggesting Panda 4 may end up in the $170-175 million domestic region. Globally the film just opened in China to the tune of $25.7 million and is now at $268 million. That is well into profit if still below the half-a-million haul that each of its predecessors earned overall. The whole franchise has now grossed over $2 billion.

IFC is not the only indie studio celebrating a record opening this weekend. While IFC has been at it longer and releases over 25 films a year, Neon in its history since 2017 has never had an opening as high as Immaculate. The Sydney Sweeney nun horror film directed by Michael Mohan opened to $5.3 million in 2,354 theaters. That bests last year’s openings of It Lives Inside ($2.6 million, 2005 theaters) and Infinity Pool ($2.51 million, 1835 theaters). It is also their widest opening to date, with It Lives Inside being the previous one, proving that sometimes if you give people a chance to see these small budget efforts in their town, they will come.

In fifth place is Mark Wahlberg and the dog known as Arthur the King. It fell 45% to $4.3 million and now has a total of $14.6 million on a quest to hopefully pass $20 million. Imaginary has done that in its third weekend, adding $2.8 million to bring its total over $23 million. Angel Studios’ Cabrini is not quite there with over $16 million and appears to be ending its run short of that. Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding added 466 theaters (to 1,828) and fell 40% to $1.5 million for a total of $5.6 million. Rounding out the top 10 is Bob Marley: One Love, which looks as if it will fulfill its destiny in the $95-100 million range as we have been saying for weeks. Leaving the top 10 this week is the Anthony Hopkins’ WWII drama One Life. It made $1.01 million and has made $3.46 million to date. Also gone is Focus’ The American Society of Magical Negroes, which fell 69% to $400,000 for a total of just $2.1 million. Julio Torres’ Problemista from A24 grossed $454,000 in 237 theaters to bring its total to $1.3 million.

On the Vine: Godzilla x Kong Looks to Dominate

The titans collide again, or team up actually, in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Dune and Ghostbusters: Afterlife opened during the pandemic and ran a little further after Godzilla vs. Kong crawled to become the first film of that period to reach $100 million again. Then last year, Godzilla Minus One surprised us all. How much further can the new film go?

Full List of Box Office Results: March 22-24, 2024

  • $45.2 million ($45.2 million total)

  • $17.6 million ($233.4 million total)

  • $16.8 million ($133.2 million total)

  • $5.3 million ($5.3 million total)

  • $4.3 million ($14.6 million total)

  • $2.83 million ($2.83 million total)

  • $2.8 million ($23.6 million total)

  • $1.5 million ($5.6 million total)

  • $1.4 million ($16.1 million total)

  • $1.1 million ($95.3 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

Thumbnail image by ©DreamWorks Animation

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