I’ve been obsessing over the box office behind Sony’s Ghostbusters not only because I really liked Paul Feig’s reboot, but I find it so incredibly interesting. From a financial standpoint, the film’s budget and marketing were always a bit curious considering the bold approach to the franchise, and the PR fallout with fanboys mixed in only made it more intriguing. To say I’ve been following the numbers closely is an understatement. In fact, I’ve been breaking down the numbers for weeks now in hopes of enlightening those interested in how it all works.
Now, a new article on THR confirms much of my math (there’s many articles on the matter) and even has it on strong authority that a sequel is no longer on Sony’s agenda. With that said, it’s not the end of the Ghostbusters, just big budget films that can’t bring enough asses into theater seats to cover the massive $300 million spend.
Sony won’t comment on whether it has banished a sequel to the netherworld, but perhaps tellingly, a rep says the studio actively is pursuing the animated ‘Ghostbusters’ feature that could hit theaters in 2019 and the animated TV series, “Ghostbusters: Ecto Force”, which is eyeing an early 2018 bow. Both are being guided by Reitman, who firmly is back in charge of the ‘Ghostbusters’ empire via Ghost Corps., a subsidiary with a mandate to expand the brand across platforms. (It was former Sony film chief Amy Pascal who first embraced Feig’s vision for the live-action reboot, not Reitman or Rothman.) “We’re very proud of the bold movie Paul Feig made, which critics and audiences loved,” a studio rep tells THR. “It has enlivened a 30-year-old brand and put it into the modern zeitgeist. As a result, we have many ideas in the works to further exploit the ‘Ghostbusters’ universe.”
Still, on paper is looks as if the Ghostbusters remake is going to lose close to $100 million, although a studio rep denies these numbers are accurate. We’ve talked many of times about how merchandising was a huge factor we couldn’t calculate. Sony disputes the amount of the potential loss, insisting that revenue streams from merchandising and such attractions as a new Ghostbusters exhibit at Madame Tussauds and a theme park ride in Dubai will help defray any deficit. The studio also notes that the number of people renting the 1984 film has soared over the summer.
“This loss calculation is way off,” says the Sony rep. “With multiple revenue streams, including consumer products, gaming, location-based entertainment, continued international rollout, and huge third-party promotional partnerships that mitigated costs, the bottom line, even before co-financing, is not remotely close to that number.”
The $300 million cost of Feig’s Ghostbusters can’t be ignored, either, as that’s a huge spend that’s created global awareness in the franchise; cutting costs and focusing more on “toy friendly” ghosts and characters could help save this sinking ship. My interest in this continues to grow, and I’ll be continuing to monitor the situation from inside and out.