Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” movie reboot has triggered intense debate over its decision to refashion the proton pack-wielding paranormal investigators as an all-female team.
For some, the movie had been a feminist rallying cry; for others, a pop culture desecration.
It had also provided ample opportunity for internet trolls to engage in some misogyny.
After all the chatter and the gender politics, “Ghostbusters” debuted this weekend to a solid 46 million dollars from 3,962 locations.
Sony hailed the results as evidence that audiences were responding to its new take on the decades-old property.
But though it ranked as the best debut for a live-action comedy in over a year, the film would have to show some endurance, as well as resonate with foreign audiences to make a profit.
After all, dusting off the ectoplasm was expensive, with Sony shelling out 144 million dollars to make “Ghostbusters” and millions more to market the film.
That tops what most comedies cost to produce and distribute.
Sony had been trying to get another “Ghostbusters” off the ground for decades, but it had often been the victim of original star Bill Murray’s mercurial vetting process.
The new picture, which brings together Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, was clearly designed to trigger a fresh array of sequels.
“There absolutely will be more [films],” said Josh Greenstein, Sony’s marketing and distribution chief.
“This is a restart of one of our most important brands.’’
The audience for the film skewed female, with women making up 54 per cent of ticket buyers.
It also resonated more strongly with older crowds weaned on the 1984 original and its 1989 sequel, as 55 per cent of the audience clocked in over the age of 25.
Is spite of Greenstein’s optimism, some analysts argued the results were underwhelming.
“Unless it has massive legs, any opening under 50 million dollars is not a triumph, it’s still an asterisk. The next two weeks will tell the tale,’’ said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations.
“Ghostbusters’’ was no match for Illumination and Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets,” which dominated the box office for a second consecutive weekend, topping all challengers with 50.6 million dollars.
The look at what dogs, cats and other domesticated critters do when their owners were at work was one of the summer’s biggest smashes, having earned 203.2 million dollars stateside.
It would likely inspire a new family film franchise, and was simply the latest in a long line of hits featuring talking animals.
The weekend’s other wide release debut, Broad Green’s “The Infiltrator,” debuted across 1,601 theaters, taking in a tepid 6.7 million dollars in its first five days of release.
The look at a federal agent’s (Bryan Cranston) attempts to infiltrate drug lord Pablo Escobar’s inner circle scored with critics.
The hope was that it would continue to draw adult audiences unmoved by the onslaught of superheroes and sequels. Broad Green declined to comment on the film’s results.
In third place, Warner Bros.’ “The Legend of Tarzan” swung to 11.1 million dollars, pushing its domestic total to 103.1 million dollars.
Disney’s “Finding Dory” continued to shatter records, bypassing “Shrek 2’s” 441.2 million dollars haul to become the highest-grossing animated release on a domestic basis.
The “Finding Nemo” sequel took fourth place with 11 million dollars. Its stateside gross stood at 445.5 million dollars.
Rounding out the top five, Fox’s “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” picked up 7.5 million dollars, bringing the raunchy comedy’s domestic receipts to 31.3 million dollars.
Just in time for the Republican National Convention, conservative Director Dinesh D’Souza has struck a chord with far right audiences yet again.
He released “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” to a 77,500 dollars opening from just three theatres.
In limited release, Amazon Studios scored with “Cafe Society,” Woody Allen’s nostalgic look at 1930’s Hollywood.
The comedy, which stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, opened to 355,000 dollars from five locations.
That translated to a 71,000 dollars per-screen average, the highest of the year.