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Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Sony's 2nd attempt to revive the franchise, scores a better-than-expected debut

Sony's second stab at a Ghostbusters revival is bustin' up the box office. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife had a solid debut at the domestic box office, grossing a better-than-expected $44 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That was above earlier projections and just slightly below the $46 million opening of the previous 2016 reboot. 

Afterlife comes after 2016's Ghostbusters was meant to revive the franchise, following a team of female Ghostbusters led by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. That reboot drew mostly positive reviews from critics but sparked a backlash online, as well as sexist and racist trolling. Some fans also expressed disappointment that it was a reboot and not a sequel, meaning original stars like Bill Murray couldn't reprise their characters. The reboot ultimately grossed $229 million, a disappointing haul given it cost $144 million to make. 

Years later, Sony tried a different approach with Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Similar to Star Wars: The Force AwakensAfterlife is set in the same world as the original Ghostbusters and ignores the 2016 film, primarily following new protagonists while evoking nostalgia for the earlier movies and bringing back some classic characters. Critics were more mixed on Afterlife, with some arguing it relied too heavily on fan service and lacked the comedic irreverence of the original by adopting a more dramatic tone. But audiences gave Afterlife a grade of A-, according to CinemaScore, compared to B+ for the 2016 movie. 

Though both films had nearly the same opening weekend, Afterlife's budget was significantly lower at a reported $75 million, meaning what was a lackluster gross for one can be considered strong for the other — and possibly enough for a sequel this time.

The 2016 Ghostbusters' director Paul Feig on Twitter congratulated Reitman, praising the new film as "brilliant," while Reitman thanked him and the 2016 cast for "giving me the courage to attempt a [Ghostbusters] movie." Reitman added, "#WeAreAllGhostbusters."