Director Paul Feig is currently on the promotional tour for his new Melissa McCarthy action-comedy Spy, but a little over a year from now it’ll be all-Ghostubsters, all-the-time when the all-female reboot with McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon comes out. The very existence of this forthcoming film has been divisive for years, well before Feig ever came along and said, “Let’s make it all women!” Seth Rogen was attached to a previous iteration, but he told Collider, “I mean, just as a movie fan, I’m the first guy to be skeptical of a new Ghostbusters. 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.” Then when Feig’s intended franchise relaunch was first announced, original Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson (Winston) was a tad annoyed, “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?” I’ve argued that it helps if you don’t think of this as a new Ghostbusters movie. The Dissolve told everyone to get over it already and realize that our “childhood entertainment is not sacred.”
That’s a lot for a movie which hasn’t even started filming yet. Feig recently revealed he was initially approached to make a Ghostbusters sequel, not a complete reboot. However, he turned that down for both practical and storytelling reasons, as he can be heard to explain in the latest episode of Empire Magazine’s podcast:
“A lot of people are mad because it’s a reboot. But I don’t know how to do it any other way, because it’s been 25 years since the last one. Harold [Ramis] has gone, Bill [Murray]doesn’t want to do it, and I love Dan [Aykroyd] and Ernie [Hudson], but people had written those scripts and they were fine, but it felt sweaty to me, it felt like a wheel was off the cart. I thought, ‘Why don’t we go into this and reinvent it so we can go into a world that doesn’t have ghosts?”
Do you take the JJ Abrams Star Trek route and reboot while also somehow honoring the legacy of what came before? That’s what next month’s Terminator: Genisys will try to do. Or do you simply make a clean break and start fresh like so many other reboots? One route risks alienating those not already in the know whereas the other risks angering franchise fans who may feel like you’re saying that the earlier films never even happened. The original Ghostbusters is a classic. Neither history nor Bill Murray has been kind to Ghostbusters 2, although I personally still like it. We got Bill Murray as a Ghostbuster again in Zombieland, and the notion of a sequel always seemed iffy, even all the major players, including Sigourney Weaver, seemed interested. Feig wants to start from a new beginning:
“I love origin stories. I want to see them come up with the tech. I want to see them seeing a ghost for the first time, as opposed to ‘Oh yeah, all those years ago there was a ghost attack on New York…’ Just for me it was hard.
Feig is excited, although admittedly inexperienced with the level of special effects they’ll use in the film. He’s also aware of the risk:
“It’s always a risk, but every movie you make is a risk. This one just happens to be one that’s toying with everyone’s childhoods!”
I am suddenly reminded of a recent Kids React video in which little kids were shocked to learn that the Transformers existed before 2007. Years from now, will the same thing happen with young fans of the new Paul Feig Ghostbusters being clueless about the misadventures of Bill Murray and the gang?
This new Ghostbusters is one of those projects which is easy to condemn for what it represents (Hollywood’s ever-growing preference to back adaptations/reboots/sequels) instead of what it actually is (a potentially fun horror/sci-fi action comedy). There’s probably a way to make this new Ghostbusters somehow slyly link up with the earlier films, or maybe a joke to be had about everyone having already forgotten about that time a giant marshmellow monster attacked New York or the Statue of Liberty seemed to come to life. Maybe they could have a mysterious financial benefactor who turns out to be Sigourney Weaver’s character from the original films, appearing in just a cameo. However, I understand why Feig has gone the route he has, and a year from now if the trailers are good I’m sure I’ll see the new Ghostbusters. Regardless, when it does come out my DVD/Blu-Ray/digital copy of the original 1984 Ghostubsters will remain unchanged.