With GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE off to a spirited $44M start, it recalls the 1984 original’s $13.6M launch.
That was a big opening then, but the buzz was it would have been bigger yet had Columbia’s GHOSTBUSTERS (pictured) not opened head-to-head June 8 with WB’s GREMLINS, which did $12.5M. Both fantasy action comedies were targeted to the same audience and should never have opened together.
Neither studio would back down and move. June 8 was a prized date because by then schools across the country had closed, making the younger male demo available for moviegoing with many weeks of summer playing time ahead.
Looking back at Comscore’s 1984 chart, it’s clear that not moving hurt both titles. GHOSTBUSTERS became 1984’s 2nd biggest domestic film with $227.2M. GREMLINS was 4th with $150.1M. Both would have done better by not splitting their opening weekend audience.
Each picture had a lot going for it. GHOSTBUSTERS’ director Ivan Reitman had scored big with MEATBALLS (1979) & STRIPES (1981). GREMLINS was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and its director, Joe Dante, had a low budget hit in THE HOWLING (1981). Had they not squared off together, they’d have opened better and reached higher cumes.