So, Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostubsters just started filming in Boston, turning into the latest high-profile movie to have multiple pictures leak from the set mere days into filming. You’re not alone anymore, Suicide Squad! However, if you’ve turned a blind eye to all of the leaks this might be a good time to stop and wonder, “Weren’t they also going to make a different Ghostbusters movie starring Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt? Are they still doing that?”
As it turns out, the answer has been downgraded to “maybe.” As Channing Tatum told Howard Stern while promoting Magic Mike XXL:
“That thing’s gotten messy. I gotta be honest, there’s a lot of people doing a lot of things on ‘Ghostbusters.’ I don’t know … I would love to do it. There’s a lot of people in the Ghostbusters pool right now.
I think we’re in a bit of a gestation period. I mean, that’s a beloved movie by a lot of people, and then there’s a lot of people that never saw the movie. I really think it’s a half-and-half. As soon as they hear it’s happening, half the people go ‘Ah, what the fuck? No. They cannot make that movie’ and ‘Oh yeah, I would love to see that. We’re nowhere near going [on the male Ghostbusters].”
As you might recall, 2014’s Sony hack revealed that Tatum had met with the Russo Brothers and Sony to brainstorm a potential Ghostbusters movie, with him oddly making his case in an email to then-studio president Amy Pascal, “Let us show the world The DarkSide and let us fight it with all the glory and epicness of a HUGE BATMAN BEGINS MOVIE. I know we can make this a huge franchise. Fun adventure craziness. COME OONNNN!!!” The internet being what it is, that was mostly greeted with jokes about Tatum’s email etiquette, sort of like, “His emails are exactly the way we’ve always imagined they would be!” However, when Paul Feig took the reigns of an all-female Ghostbusters project that surely meant Tatum’s plea for “epicness” had fallen on deaf ears, right?
Then in March, Deadline exclusively revealed Sony was teaming with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd to produce a “guy-centric” Ghostbusters movie to be written by Iron Man 3’s Drew Pearce, directed by the Russo brothers, and starring Tatum. Devin at BadAssDigest followed up with several people at Sony who claimed to have no idea where the “guy-centric” part came from. He was told the Tatum project is in no way all-male; it will simply have two guys at its center, Tatum and Pratt, whose real life friendship and easy-going rapport has meant they’ve always wanted to do a big movie together.
But why would Sony do that when they already have Paul Feig doing his “I’m a male feminist!” thing with Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon’s Ghostbusters movie? Want to venture a guess? Sure, you do. It’s pretty obvious. Rhymes with Mavengers. Oh, fine. They’re trying to rip off The Avengers and build a shared cinematic universe.
Devin Sony’s contacts told him the idea of building a shared cinematic universe has been the plan from the beginning (that’s totally inconsistent with the Sony hack, though), building this as a series of branded supernatural FX comedies with a bit of tonal variety, i.e., they won’t necessarily just be busting ghosts. The plan is to have four total films: Feig’s all-female thing (2016), Tatum and the Russo’s thing (2017), the mandatory team-up (2018), and a prequel of some kind (2019), though don’t expect the original Ghostbusters characters from the 80s to ever show up.
Love it, hate it, don’t really care – that’s what Sony was going to do. So, why is Tatum not so sure of himself anymore when talking to Howard Stern? What’s changed? Sony is under new management, with Tom Rothman replacing Amy Pascal in February. One of the first things he did was cut the budget of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, although he was limited with how much he could ax since the contracts for the four actresses were already locked in and untouchable. Rothman’s resume includes two of the most expensive films of all time, Titanic and Avatar, but he is not typically the type who believes the only way to make money on movies to throw more money at them. He will spend big money on movies when he feels it’s warranted, and maybe he looked at what was planned for Ghostbusters and thought it was best to pull back and see how Paul Feig’s movie does first before going froward with some kind of shared universe. After all, Feig’s current movie, Spy, is holding up well, but it opened $10 million below expectations.
Or maybe that has nothing to do with it, and this is just standard Hollywood operating procedure, with too many cooks in the Ghosbusters kitchen right now. Either way, the original schedule would have the Channing Tatum Ghostbusters filming around this time next year. If that does not happen I wonder if we’ll be reading an interview years from now where Drew Pearce dishes the details about his unproduced Ghostbusters screenplay ala so many would-be Batman screenwriters.