Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Has Won The Weekend Box Office, But It's Not Great News

 Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Winston (Ernie Hudson), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Lars Pinfield (James Acaster), Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Callie (Carrie Coon) in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.
Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Winston (Ernie Hudson), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Lars Pinfield (James Acaster), Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Callie (Carrie Coon) in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

It's been made very clear in the last decade that executives at Sony desperately want the Ghostbusters brand to exist as one of the studio's big tentpole franchises... but the best that can really be said about the efforts that have been made is that they've gotten consistent results. Critics have been mixed/underwhelmed, audiences have been mildly more enthusiastic, and box office results have been solid/tepid. We saw this happen with Paul Feig's Ghostbusters from 2016 and Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and  now we're seeing the pattern continue with Gil Kenan's Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

The latest entry in the horror/comedy franchise is sitting at the top of the domestic box office chart following its arrival in theaters this Friday, but all the news from the weekend isn't great. Check out the full Top 10 below and join me after for analysis.

Weekend Box Office March 22-24, 2024 Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Weekend Box Office March 22-24, 2024 Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Barely Beats Out Opening Weekend Numbers For Ghostbusters: Afterlife

You may remember that Ghostbusters: Afterlife didn't arrive in theaters when the world was in the best condition. Though the original plan was for it to be released in July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced those plans to change, and it wasn't until November 11, 2021 (when people were still getting used to going back to cinemas) that the film publicly debuted. The film made $44 million in its opening weekend  – about $2 million less than its 2016 franchise predecessor.

Because we are no longer living during a pandemic, there was hope that Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire would be able to do far better business... but that hasn't panned out. Instead, the results have remained (as noted earlier) consistent. According to The Numbers, the sequel has done better than Ghostbusters: Afterlife in its first three days, but the difference is pretty negligible. The new film starring Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Mckenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard brought in an estimated $25.3 million this weekend, which is more than Afterlife but just under the $46 million that the 2016 reboot made.

The outlook for would be better if the new sequel had done a better job of keeping costs down, but Variety reports that the film cost $100 million to make (not including publicity and marketing) compared to the $75 million budget of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. This is where franchise consistency may end up being a problem. By the end of its theatrical run in a depressed marketplace, the 2021 movie brough in $203 million, and Paul Feig's Ghostbusters made $229 million. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is going to need to make significantly more than either of those titles if it is going to be looked at as a success in the long run, and it's not off to an amazing start.

Sewer Dragon Ghost being chased through New York in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Sewer Dragon Ghost being chased through New York in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

In its second weekend, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire will need to pull off a feat similar to what Denis Villeneuve's Dune: Part Two and Mike Mitchell's Kung Fu Panda 4 did earlier this month (both saw ticket sales drop less than 50 percent in their second Friday-to-Sundays), but that doesn't seem very likely. Simply put, the new release doesn't have the same kind of buzz or heat as those two other releases, and it's going to be dealing with some serious audience-stealing competition.

On the former front, people seem to like the movie, but they aren't exactly losing their minds about it. Critics at large gave it an icy response (though CinemaBlend's Mike Reyes gave it a three-and-a-half star review), and it's rocking a 43 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. General audiences are showing it a healthier appreciation, giving the movie an 84 percent rating on RT and a "B+" grade on CinemaScore surveys... but those aren't generally results that suggest movie-goers are telling their friends/family that the title is a must-see.

As for competition, not only are audiences still seeing Dune: Part Two and Kung Fu Panda 4, but there is another studio spring tentpole release coming out in a few days: Adam Wingard's Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. While Dune and Kung Fu Panda have had a symbiotic relationship bringing people to theaters because they each target different audiences, the new MonsterVerse title is most definitely aiming at the core demographic for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, and that could spell trouble for the film.

Indie Horror Movie Immaculate And Late Night With The Devil Land In The Middle Of The Top 10

Looking at the Top 10, you might get the impression that we are in the midst of Spooky Season, as not only is the top movie at the box office about ghosts, but there are two new indie horror projects that made their debut this past weekend. Neither did brilliant or even surprisingly big business, but they both got decent attention.

Michael Mohan's Immaculate managed to get to fourth place, with the film presumably capitalizing on the heat that star Sydney Sweeney has right now. The movie, which features the Anyone But You star as a nun, has gotten a mixed response from both critics and audiences, but it made $2,277 per location and made $5.4 million in the last three days.

Colin and Cameron Cairnes' Late Night With The Devil starring David Dastmalchian has  earned a much more positive response (the controversy related to use of artificial intelligence-generated art aside), and it made a slightly higher per theater average ($2,740) while playing in less than half the number of theaters as Immaculate. The small indie production released by IFC Films made $2.8 million this weekend, which was enough for it to earn sixth place in the Top 10.

March will be coming to an end next weekend, and, as noted, the month chock full of blockbusters should conclude with an exciting box office battle as Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire face off starting this Friday. Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to see the results when the dust settles and the details of the new weekend Top 10 is revealed. Between now and then, check out our 2024 Movie Release Calendar to discover all of the exciting films that will be heading to theaters (and streaming) in the coming weeks/months.