Ghoulbusters Get Chills with ‘Frozen Empire’ Revamp

The 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot sparked a Culture War fight, but the latest installment, "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," seems to revive the franchise.

The 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot unofficially kicked off Hollywood’s woke makeover. The industry already had the far-Left movement in mind before the film’s release, but the battles around the gender-swapped reboot crystalized the Culture War fight.

The press rallied behind the film as a feminist victory, sight unseen. Consumers torched the film’s first trailer in epic fashion, which the far-Left Washington Post blamed on misogyny. The film’s stars rallied behind Hillary Clinton on “Ellen,” embracing the reboot’s female empowerment angle. Critics, according to Richard Roeper, graded the movie on a curve. And then Sony lost roughly $70 million when the film didn’t crush the box office competition. Are the so-called Lady Ghostbusters having the last laugh?

Ghostbusters: Afterlife vs. Frozen Empire

The rebooted franchise seemed to right the saga’s ship in 2021. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” reunited the surviving cast members from the 1984 original and earned enough fan love to revive the series. Except the numbers didn’t add all the way up.”Afterlife” earned $129 million at the U.S. box office, one million more than the 2016 version. The film hit theaters mid-pandemic, which made those figures more palatable. Plus, Sony reduced the new film’s budget so it didn’t need to make a fortune to earn a profit. The 2016 film’s bloated budget ($144 million) gave Sony headaches. So did fan indifference to the finished product.

However, the newest “Ghostbusters” film, “Frozen Empire,” is almost out of gas. The film has earned $107 million after six weeks of release, and with a $3 million tally over the weekend, that number won’t rise much higher. That’s significantly lower than the last two films, and the pandemic remains in the rearview mirror. You can’t blame the middling results on a lack of nostalgia. The newest film also features the old guard, but this time in expanded roles. Plus, the film’s release date got pushed ahead due to 2023’s Hollywood strikes, which could have created a greater sense of anticipation. Release delays worked wonders for both “Dune: Part II” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Looking back, the 2016 version is the top money grosser of the trio – $229 million worldwide. Few are clamoring for the film’s actresses to return to the franchise. The last two films didn’t bother to include them in cameos. The bigger issue remains. Does the public at large still care about the franchise? Maybe the indifferent response to the 2016 film is partly due to franchise fatigue. It’s worth noting that 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” remains a clunker. So we have one iconic film lifting up a series that’s no longer a cash cow by any stretch.

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