Both ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ defeated the haters at the box office

07.18.16 1 year ago

After months of speculation, YouTube video mass disliking, and vitriol-spewing across the Internet, the Ghostbusters reboot finally hit theaters this weekend. And it did just fine, thank you very much.

Ghostbusters earned $46 million in North America in its first weekend.

While that number”s having some outlets blast out headlines like “Is a $46 million weekend big enough?” and “Why the Ghostbusters reboot may haunt Sony,” there is one positive milestone I have to highlight here.

Ghostbusters amassed the biggest opening weekend gross for any live-action comedy in 2016. Last year”s largest opening weekend for a non-animated comedy: Pitch Perfect 2. (The a cappella sequel also went on to be the highest grossing live-action comedy of the whole year.)

Pitch Perfect 2 earned more than other 2015 comedies like Seth MacFarlane”s Ted 2 and Seth Rogen movie The Night Before. This weekend, Ghostbusters grossed more than twice as much as this year”s Rogen comedy, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, did in its opening weekend, and more than other comedies like Zoolander 2 and fellow PG-13-rated action-comedy Central Intelligence.

That”s two movies, two years in a row, significantly proving that funny women behind and in front of the camera can draw ticketbuyers to the theater.

The majority of moviegoers are women. But that fact hasn”t managed to get the film industry to make more movies that have the majority of ticketbuyers reflecting back at them from the big screen.

Cate Blanchett bemoaned this disparity in her 2014 Oscars acceptance speech: 

“Those in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences – they are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money,” she said to a huge round of applause, then emphasizing the apparent need to proclaim the obvious with a shout of “The world is round, people!”

And here we are in 2016, with another female-led comedy getting butts in seats. Whodathunk.

The new Ghostbusters didn”t have me laughing aloud as much as the 1984 film continues to keep me cracking up, even on repeated viewings. Was it as good as the original? No. Did I expect it to be? No. But though the reboot didn”t get as many LOLs out of me, I did feel a grin spread across my face throughout the whole movie, and it did have me giggling in delight a lot. One of the greatest joys of this Ghostbusters was watching these four women supporting each other as a kickass team. Hilarious as earlier Paul Feig movie Bridesmaids was, that 2011 comedy had me cringing as I watched Kristen Wiig”s character damage a friendship more and more.

In Ghostbusters, though, the movie picks up when Wiig”s and Melissa McCarthy”s friendship already is broken, and we get to watch it heal, and we get to learn the back story of how they supported each other as high schoolers, and then we get to watch them back each other up in the fight against both ghosts and skeptics, alongside two other awesome team members, all played by genuine comedic talents.

For too long, the narrative has been that women must compete with fellow women. One woman who”s written for TV since the mid-“90s once told me that when she was breaking into the industry, fellow women didn”t want to help her make connections or offer mentor support. “I broke through all on my own,” they”d say, and they”d see a second female in the writers room as competition. One colleague recently told me that her aunt tells her, “I don”t trust women.” Ladies have long had challenges unique to their gender – fellow ladies shouldn”t be one of them. 

A movie that stars women playing scientists – while there continues to be a major gender gap in STEM fields and a major dearth of female scientists represented onscreen – is important. (As Jill Pantozzi also pointed out on HitFix this weekend.) A movie that stars female scientists putting their minds together and working as a team is important. So I was thrilled to see that this movie is indeed a delight worth watching, and I”m thrilled to see it proving what women-led movies are capable of at the box office.

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