It’s Up to ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ to Keep the Box Office Rolling

The one-two punch of “Dune: Part Two” and “Kung Fu Panda 4” has broken the box office out of its early-year slump, and now it is up to Sony/Columbia’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” to keep the momentum going.

Directed by Gil Kenan, “Frozen Empire” is the fifth “Ghostbusters” film and a direct sequel to the 2021 legacyquel “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which despite the COVID concerns weighing down the box office at the time had a respectable run with $204.3 million grossed against a $75 million budget.

Now, Sony is hoping that “Afterlife” primed the pump enough for a new generation of moviegoers to get excited about “Ghostbusters” to the point that they will come back for a sequel that returns the series to its New York roots and sees the descendants of Egon Spengler team up with the original “Ghostbusters” cast, “Jurassic World: Dominion”-style.

But this time, there will be no COVID curve to grade on. “Frozen Empire” is currently tracking for an opening in the low $40 million range, which would put it in the same neighborhood as the $44 million domestic launch of “Afterlife,” which went on to nearly triple that total with a $129 million box office run.

“Frozen Empire” will have a more difficult task matching that total. Unless the parents are hardcore “Ghostbusters” fans or the kids really liked “Afterlife,” families with younger kids are more likely to pick “Kung Fu Panda 4,” which had a strong $30 million second weekend, as their day out at the movies. And while “Dune: Part Two” will be in its fourth weekend, it has legged out considerably well and will continue to be a popular offering for general audiences, while “Frozen Empire” will be a major competitor for Gen X moviegoers.

Then, in its second weekend, “Frozen Empire” will have to contend with a different empire: Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” While that film probably won’t get strong reviews from critics who will have “Godzilla Minus One” fresh on their minds, never underestimate the draw of big monsters smashing things, particularly for the teen and 18-24 crowd that “Frozen Empire” is hoping to attract.

Whether “Frozen Empire” manages to stand out from the crowded March competition or gets squeezed out comes down to whether it can navigate that tight balance legacyquels often face — trying to satisfy the nostalgia of longtime fans without alienating the uninitiated. Given that the appeal of “Ghostbusters” is primarily among American audiences — “Afterlife” grossed just under $75 million internationally — there’s not much margin for error.

Also opening this weekend is “Immaculate,” the new horror film from Neon starring “Anyone But You” breakout actress Sydney Sweeney. The film was well received by critics at its SXSW premiere with a 70% Rotten Tomatoes score, but it is likely headed for a No. 4 opening on the charts with a projected start of around $5 million from 2,354 theaters.

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