After a provably massive disaster bemoaning a return to the original is stark stupidity.
It is not without a dose of desperation that Sony Pictures Entertainment is seeking to reinvigorate its “Ghostbusters” universe. Possibly more desperate however are the smattering of journalists who declare veering back to the origins, and bypassing more all-female versions of the story, is a troubling sign of social irresponsibility.
Most major studios are in possession of a number of franchises that are money generators, and Sony is looking at broadening the scope of some of its properties. To maintain any standing in the marketplace it needs more. The smash hit “Venom” means future films will help replace some of the money lost by now partnering its “Spider-Man” rights with Marvel. “Jumanji” turned into a surprise reboot last year that will now be expanded. Plus the studio is reintroducing its “Men In Black” storyline this summer.
Meanwhile “Ghostbusters”, among the most beloved comedy enterprises out there, was turned into a flaming trainwreck a few years ago. Fans were essentially told they were supposed to like the film, and if they did not embrace it they were deemed misogynists, or worse. This is not how you endear your potential audience to come see your product. It became an embarrassment for all involved. (I detailed the aftermath that summer.)
Nobody wanted to see “Woke-busters”.
Give credit for lessons learned. The reveal of the teaser trailer this week shows the studio is making a new film and this one will revisit the original storyline. Not only a return to its roots, it is being considered the “third” Ghostbusters film, a sign that they are completely treating the 2016 debacle as a distaff effort and not part of the canon.
Jason Reitman’s announcement as the director, with his father Ivan (the director of the two originals) serving as producer is another sign of Sony treating the comedy very seriously. For years Jason has dismissed the idea of directing a “Ghostbusters” feature. It seems evident he saw a need to recover his father’s bespoiled enterprise and they will now team to return things back as they were.
This avoidance of the 2016 release is not sitting well with some entertainment scribes. A number of them are under the delusion that going back to what worked is a travesty of social justice. Over at Forbes Scott Mendelson had plenty of issues with the studio not wanting to extend the failure.
To say that I have mixed feelings about this is an understatement. On one hand, you’re rewarding a white male director whose last five movies bombed (and of those, only the two starring Charlize Theron and penned by Diablo Cody received positive reviews) with the keys to a hugely valuable franchise mostly because he’s the son of the guy who directed those first two Ghostbusters movies. And yes, unintentional or not, you’re essentially rewarding the specific demographics who reacted in the very worst way to the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot with the thing they claimed to want instead of the… horrors… all-female sci-fi comedy.
This is as oblivious as one can get. If you are looking to scorch the director over the success of some of his releases while overlooking the abject failure that the all-female attempt became, you are intentionally misleading. Sony is estimated to have lost at least $70 million on that failed venture. “I hate that this is happening,” bemoans Mendelson. “I hate that the misogynistic Ghostbusters trolls…are getting what they want.”
At the Hollywood Reporter blog Heat Vision Graeme McMillan was also downcast. While Graeme at least acknowledges the severe loss incurred by the studio surrounding the gal busters he is nonetheless unhappy with the development.
The revival of Ghostbusters in this form feels cynical and insincere in its pursuit of a demographic unsatisfied by the last attempt, which is surely the opposite of everyone involved. Could the eventual movie be good? Of course, and we’ll all wait for summer 2020 before making a final decision. Right now, however, it’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who are we supposed to call about this kind of exorcism, though?
When it comes to cynical and insincere — I believe he just described the motivations behind that 2016 fiasco. They did not give us attractive content nor service the source material with that film. The entire focus then was on the cast, and how important and contemporaneous it was to have women portraying the roles. They did not give audiences a reason to come out; they made it an obligation, and fans were made to feel laughter was compulsory.
At Slate they were no more happy (shockingly). Under its appropriately titled header Brow Beat we see that wanting a successful film can only be achieved by appealing to the worst of society. “2016’s all-female reboot, won’t be part of this equation, and as Jason Reitman… makes clear, he’s not above playing that up to internet malcontents.” It gets explained that Reitman making an appeal to fans of the original movies is somehow vile.
Reitman’s comments are “an admonition to anyone who doesn’t like the movie to be quiet about it, because they’re not the “fans” it’s for.” The hilarity behind this obliviousness? Those were almost the exact words director Paul Feig used in the run up to the the release of his 2016 version. Said Feig at the time, to anyone carping about the makeup of his cast: “You’re somebody I don’t even want to deal with.” Then, just to be sure the hysterical reaction to this announcement is properly dialed up to red-line levels, we get this summation: “It’s a little disconcerting to see Reitman frame his movie as the Ghostbusters film the most toxic filmgoers on the planet have been waiting for.”
Take heart Ghostbuster fans. It looks as if the correct people are getting behind this project in order to reinstall the greatness once enjoyed. It also looks as if the incorrect people are upset by this, which is only more good news.