Director Paul Feig and screenwriter Katie Dippold are re-teaming to make a cool sounding female-led horror comedy that’s going to be both a bit scary as well as laugh-out-loud funny. That’s an impossibly difficult tone to pull off, but they seem like the pair who might be up to the task. They are, after all, the ones who made the first all female buddy cop comedy of note with The Heat. Plus, with the ever increasing importance of the female audience at the box office this sounds like a smart bet, financially.
So, yeah, I’m on board with it.
It’s an all-female reboot of The Ghostbusters.
We have endured nearly 20 years of rumors about a new Ghostbusters movie, beginning in 1996 when Harold Ramis was quoted as saying Dan Aykroyd was working on a script centered around Egon (Ramis) and Ray (Aykroyd) leading a “whole new, younger, and probably much more handsome team.” Ever since then, it’s been a who’s who of red hot actors/directors linked to the project, beginning with Chris Farley and Will Smith. That’s right – rumors about this movie go back far enough that Chris Farley was still alive. At one point Ben Stiller was set to star, and then later Judd Apatow was going to produce and have Seth Rogen as the star. Two writers for The Office apparently spent years trying to make Aykroyd’s increasingly crazy scripts work, and Bill Murray kept insisting he wanted no part of any of it. Then at some point down the line the idea of adding females to the cast was mentioned, with Aykroyd specifically naming Alyssa Milano, Eliza Dushku, and Anna Faris as ideal choices. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill seemed to nominate themselves for consideration, and Bill Hader was mentioned as a potential dream casting choice. Things took a turn for the serious earlier this year when Sony apparently offered the directing job to 21 Jump Street/LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who turned it down, citing exhaustion.
Seth Rogen probably spoke for many of us, though, when he told Collider, “I mean, just as a movie fan, I’m the first guy to be skeptical of a new Ghostubsters. It sounds like a terrible idea when you first hear it. Actually, at first hearing it sounds like the worst idea ever […] That would have to be one motherfucking good script.”
Well, there isn’t actually a script yet, but a new Ghostbusters movie is officially in development. Paul Feig’s had the job since at least San Diego Comic-Con in July, which is when he recruited Katie Dippold to the project. Some have thrown snark Dippold’s way since she did once write the screenplay for a potential movie centered on the E-Commerce baby, but she did also write The Heat in addition to serving on the writer’s staff for Parks & Recreation. Feig’s bonafides are less in doubt since he’s the man largely responsible for the universally adored cult class TV show Freaks & Geeks and brought Annie Mumolo and Kristin Wiig’s brilliant screenplay to life as the director of Bridesmaids.
Feig said pretty much all the right things in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, specifically this part:
Yeah. I love origin stories. That’s my favorite thing. I love the first one so much I don’t want to do anything to ruin the memory of that. So it just felt like, let’s just restart it because then we can have new dynamics. I want the technology to be even cooler. I want it to be really scary, and I want it to happen in our world today that hasn’t gone through it so it’s like, oh my God what’s going on?
However, original Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson (Winston) isn’t so fond of the idea, very fairly pointing out in an interview with The Telegraph, “I heard it was going to be a total reboot, and that it would have nothing to do with the other two movies. If it has nothing to do with the other two movies, and it’s all female, then why are you calling it Ghostbusters?”
They’re calling it Ghostbusters because that’s how they’ll be able to sell the movie. In a different era, maybe Feig and Dippold would be free, fresh off the financial success of The Heat, to get a green light on a Ghostbusters-like comedy centered around 4 women, likely to include several of the actresses from Bridesmaids. It would come along, we’d all know they were taking some of their ideas from Ghostbusters, but it wouldn’t actually be burdened with bearing the actual Ghostbusters name. That’s just not how it works anymore. Now, it has to be a Ghostbusters movie because that’s the only way they’ll get the necessary budget to pull off all the effects shots, and the studio can feel comfortable about being able to sell it to overseas audiences. So, we have to go in with thoughts of Slimer and Bill Murray and Ray Parker, Jr.s’ theme song, dreading the potential weirdness of meeting a Petra Vankman and her male love interest Dan Barrett along with fellow ghostbusters Winnie Zeddemore, Raylene Stantz, and Elizabeth Spengler (Surely, they’ll actually just create entirely new character names instead of finding female alternatives for the male names, right?).
To be fair, the concept of movies being made from existing source material goes way back to the origin of cinema. In fact, for some time now there have usually been at least 15 to 20 sequels in the Top 50 grossing films in any given year. Even last year, only 20 of the top 50 were remakes/reboots/sequels, compared to 15 in 1985. However, as of late all those remakes/reboots/sequels are congregating much closer to the front of the pack in the top 50. Just check out this Infograph looking at how this progressed from 1981 to 2011:
Yeah, but, why did this trend have to ensnare Ghostbusters as well? I loved that movie when I was a kid, and it was one of the biggest box office draws of the 80s, despite being an entirely original concept.
Based on Feig’s interview, it’s pretty clear we are still in the very early days of his efforts to bring an all female Ghostbusters to the screen, and while he seems to have all the momentum in the world on his side this is a property which has been in some stage of development hell for nearly 20 years. So, let’s not go crazy in already earmarking this movie for a 2016 release date or 2017 or whatever. I still remain optimistic that Feig and Dippold could be the right pair to deliver a really fun movie, one which could also just happen to be incredibly important to the careers of some emerging and/or established actresses. If the first Ghostbusters helped make Bill Murray a comedy god to an entire generation then a female Ghostbusters could do the same, just with the gender flipped. That’s a good thing. I just really wish they didn’t have to call it Ghostbusters. That’s been done, pretty much to perfection. So, it really helps for me to simply think of this project Feig and Dippold are working on as not a Ghostbusters movie.
What about you? Let me know in the comments section.