FACT CHECK: Was The All Female Ghostbusters Really A ‘Commercial Success’?

Ian Miles Cheong | Contributor

The Ghostbusters reboot was subject to a lot of controversy before, during, and after its release. The pre-release trailer was among one of the most unpopular videos on YouTube, receiving a record number of dislikes for a movie trailer.

But in a New York Times article on the all-female Lord of the Flies remake, the paper of record called the reboot a “commercial success.”

Verdict: False

Ghostbusters was a commercial flop. As a matter of fact, the raw numbers show that the movie simply didn’t do as well as Sony expected it to perform — a fact that Variety said may haunt the studio.

Vanity Fair described the movie’s failure as dooming the franchise, whose producer, Amy Pascal, once claimed that sequels would be “inevitable” upon its success.

Fact Check:

Vanity Fair and Variety weren’t the only publications to report the movie’s box office bomb—News.com.au, Forbes, and countless other publications reported the same outcome. Even The New York Times itself, quoting Paramount VP Rob Moore, has referenced the poor ticket sales.

“Movies like ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Ben-Hur’ certainly looked like they were going to be big going into the summer, but audiences, especially in the world of remakes, have been very tough,” Moore said in August 2016.

Developed on an budget of $144 million, the movie opened to a mediocre $46 million, far short of the expected $60 million. Add in the marketing costs, and the price tag for director Paul Feig’s biggest flop would’ve had to earn much more than it cost to produce and advertise.

Since its release, the movie made a total of $128 million in domestic gross, plus an estimated $100 million overseas to a total of $228 million in gross.

According to Investopedia, movie advertising requires at least 30 percent of the total budget. Other experts peg that figure at 50 percent. Given that studios are light-lipped about how much they spend on advertising, the ballpark figure can range from anywhere between the two.

Furthermore, studios only tend to receive 50 percent of the box office gross, meaning that Sony only made half of the total $228 million the movie made in both domestic and international markets — far short of the production costs alone.

The movie’s commercial performance wasn’t helped by its ban in China — a key market for all new movies. Then-existing laws prohibited the display of ghosts and other supernatural entities.

The female Ghostbusters reboot performed so poorly that even actor Dan Akroyd, who supported its development throughout, slammed Paul Feig for inflating the production costs with reshoots — noting that the director “will not be back on the Sony lot anytime soon.”

As for a sequel, it’s not likely to happen.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook. If you have a fact check suggestion, send your ideas to my DMs on Twitter. 

Ian Miles Cheong