'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' collects a cool $45.2 million at weekend box office


“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” easily froze out the competition at the box office this weekend, topping the charts with a solid if unspectacular $45.2 million debut, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Directed by Gil Kenan, the latest installment in Sony’s 40-year-old phantasm-fighting franchise came in slightly ahead of its 2021 predecessor, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” That film, directed by “Frozen Empire” co-writer Jason Reitman, opened to $44 million.

But the slight uptick for the heavily marketed sequel looks less impressive when considering that “Afterlife” was released at a time when the box office was still struggling to recover from the pandemic doldrums.

Reitman has expressed his determination to preserve the legacy of his father Ivan’s original classic, which opened when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House. “We all want another ride in the [Ghostbusters’] car,” he told The Times in 2021. “We all want to see Indiana Jones put the hat back on. We want to see the DeLorean hit 88 again.”

But the result for “Frozen Empire” suggests that such nostalgia only goes so far and the franchise may be reaching a point of diminishing returns as its core fan base grows older.

Still, the opening for “Frozen Empire” marks the second best debut ever for a “Ghostbusters” film following 2016’s much-maligned all-female reboot and brings the franchise’s total haul to over $1 billion.

Critics never warmed up to “Frozen Empire,” in which the new generation of ghostbusters introduced in the previous film, including Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard, once again unite with the OG team played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts to fight an ice lord demon who is threatening to unleash a second Ice Age.

The film earned a 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with Tribune News Service reviewer Katie Walsh suggesting that, despite the game cast, “Frozen Empire” “will still never beat the allegations that it’s merely regurgitated nostalgia aimed at a kiddie crowd.” Audiences were similarly underwhelmed, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore.

In its fourth weekend, “Dune: Part Two” continued its impressive run, claiming the No. 2 spot with $17.6 million. To date, director Denis Villeneuve’s acclaimed sci-fi epic has taken in $233 million at the domestic box office and $574 million globally and has become the eighth-highest-grossing Imax release ever.

After two weeks at the top of the charts, Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 4” fell to third place with $16.8 million. The film has brought in $133 million in North America and $268 million globally.

The weekend’s only other major release, Neon’s religious-themed psychological horror film “Immaculate,” debuted in fourth place with $5.4 million. The film stars Sydney Sweeney as an American nun who joins a remote Italian convent only to realize that it harbors dark and nightmarish secrets.

Walsh called “Immaculate” “goopy, gross fun, if not entirely terrifying” and audiences felt similarly meh, giving the film a far-from-immaculate C+ CinemaScore.

Rounding out the top five, Mark Wahlberg’s inspirational dog drama “Arthur the King” took in $4.4 million in its second weekend, bringing its total to $14.6 million.

Among specialty releases, IFC Films’ low-budget horror film “Late Night With the Devil” performed strongly, earning $2.8 million, the biggest opening weekend in the distributor’s history.

Overall, however, the domestic theatrical business continues to remain sluggish. This weekend’s total box office came in 12% below the same weekend last year. To date, the cumulative box office for the year is running 9% behind the 2023 tally, a trend that analysts expect to persist throughout the year.

Next week, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” opens in wide release.



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