This past weekend the controversial reboot of Ghostbusters finally brought in more money than it cost to make, topping $158 million in total worldwide box office receipts, putting to rest any notions that it would be a flop by not making back its $144 million budget.
“But wait,” a whole lot of dudes who got way too personally invested in seeing the gender-swapped action comedy fail said, “The director said the film would have to make $500 million to make money. It’s never going to do that! (P.S. I’m not sexist).”
American movies do cost a ridiculous amount to market, often more than the film’s production budget. The idea that half a billion dollars is wrapped up in the experiment that is Ghostbusters is perfectly conceivable, and the idea that that money will not all be recouped in ticket sales isn’t far-fetched. However, making that your only measure of success is looking at things in a very narrow way.
Sony is interested in Ghostbusters as a brand, much the way Disney was interested in Star Wars as a brand when they bought the rights for $4 billion from George Lucas even though The Force Awakens brought in only half that in ticket sales. Nobody with any sense would call The Force Awakens a failure, knowing that renewing the film series was basically a license to print money in the form of spin-off media, toys and more.
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The same is looking to be true for Ghostbusters. It’s not just a movie, it’s a Top 20 album (No. 1 on the soundtrack charts). It’s a surprisingly successful line of action figures. It’s a bestselling book on Amazon.
Not only that, the rising tide lifts all boats. Know what else is currently a bestseller on Amazon? The original Ghostbusters DVD and its sequel, currently sitting at #38 and #148 respectively. That’s not even counting however many people are streaming them. Renewed interest in Ghostbusters, the brand, is selling a pair of 30-year-old movies like hot cakes and Sony just has to lean back and watch the cash roll in. Heck, the new film isn’t even out on DVD or Blu-Ray yet and IT’S already one of the top-selling movies on Amazon thanks to pre-sales.
Sony has other big plans for the Ghostbusters brand. A new animated television series set in 2050 called Ecto Force is due to arrive in 2018, with Ivan Reitman producing. Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, Rory Bruer, has unofficially confirmed a live action sequel, and we may also be getting an animated movie. That is a lot of Ghostbusters.
The point is that Sony had a lot more riding on Ghostbusters than just a big box office, or they never would have approved that ridiculous budget. When all is said and done at the box office Ghostbusters will maybe not have gotten back every single buck spent making it or selling it in ticket sales, but it will have successfully breathed life into an old property that is making money on everything from fruit juice to children’s books to Halloween cost-OMG THAT IS ADORABLE! It re-affirmed Melissa McCarthy and Paul Fieg as major box office draws, launched Kate McKinnon as everyone’s new favorite comedic actress, and even taking into the mantrum that happens in online movie user ratings, most people enjoyed the film. In short, by every reasonable definition of success, Ghostbusters is one. Period. The end.