Today, the world awoke to the news that Sony is pressing the reboot button on Ghostbusters again… sort of. According to a report in Variety, Jason Reitman – son of original director Ivan Reitman – is set to helm a movie that will serve as a direct sequel to 1989’s Ghostbusters II.
Suddenly, in a puff of ectoplasm, the divisive 2016 movie is gone from continuity to be replaced by a follow-up to the last Ghostbusters film that the fanbase acknowledges as good. Although, it’s a retrospective appreciation, as people only decided it was good after they saw the 2016 reboot. Reviews at the time were decidedly mixed and it’s no coincidence that the long-mooted third film stalled for several decades.
It’s fair to say that this news has been met with a polarised response on Twitter. No one is angry at the announcement, which seems like a reasonably exciting project, especially if Bill Murray and the rest of the surviving cast members are willing to reprise their roles. However, what has got the outrage engine running is that this has essentially allowed the Twittersphere to stick the old, tedious debate about the reboot – “Women? In a movie? Not in my name!” – in the microwave and warm it up all over again.
Paul Feig’s 2016, all-female reboot of Ghostbusters is a very enjoyable comedy movie. It’s not perfect by any stretch, and certainly isn’t as good as the 1984 original film, but it’s a funny and inventive genre picture that features some terrific performances – most notably from Chris Hemsworth and Kate McKinnon. The fact this new film appears to rule out the further adventures of McKinnon’s eccentric Holtzmann is one of the saddest parts of today’s news.
The problem with Ghostbusters was simply that it was too expensive. A $150m budget is simply too high for a comedy film, so it never stood a chance of making a great deal of money without being a near-unprecedented megahit. For a less expensive comedy, a global box office total considerably north of $200m would be perfectly reasonable. Though there were undoubtedly creative issues with the film, there were far greater issues behind the scenes.
It’s impossible to deny that the social media backlash played a part in its struggles too. Many “fans” – and those are very loaded inverted commas – of the original movies pledged to boycott the film before they had seen a frame of footage. The announcement of the all-female central cast caused uproar among people who take enormous issue with women being given the chance to appear in films, leading the trailer to become one of the most disliked videos in YouTube history and the IMDb score to sit very low before anyone could possibly have seen the movie in full.
But I’m sure the reaction to today’s news was free of misogynist nonsense, right? Let’s take a look…
Hopefully the new Ghostbusters doesn't have an a SJW all woman cast
— 🐸Haters Favorite🐸 (@Haters_favorite) January 16, 2019
#Ghostbusters seems like they may have learned from their mistakes and retconning away from the female one …
— Mark Gillings (@G_MANIOM) January 16, 2019
Hopefully this installment stays true to the original Ghostbusters movies and not pandering to SJW leftists.
— Stanley Z. 🇺🇸 (@stanz2000) January 16, 2019
Oops! My mistake.
Today’s Ghostbusters announcement is being treated as a victory for the anti-SJW brigade who had such titanic issues with the 2016 reboot. The announcement couldn’t have been more of a capitulation to purist fans if they had tried, and frankly it seems like they did. Details about the actual film are scarce, but there’s a clear attempt at distancing this movie from Feig’s work and deliberately vague details about original cast members, designed to fuel the rumour mill. People would rather watch ageing men run around with proton packs making jokes about the 1980s than they would a selection of this generation’s funniest women showcasing their great chemistry together.
Then there’s Reitman, whose only credentials for this movie are that he’s the son of the original dude. It’s fair to say a Ghostbusters film is rather outside the oeuvre of the bloke whose two most recent films are a Sundance-y motherhood drama and a political biopic. He’s a very strong filmmaker and I’m sure he’ll do a good job, but those discussing how perfect a choice he is are barking up a rather nonsensical tree.
Whether it was intended to be or not, the news of this nostalgic Ghostbusters film will be seen by the basement-dwelling cabal of internet sexists as a win in their ongoing campaign against anything with a female leading role in it. Regardless of whether the concerns driving it are political or commercial, it’s still disappointing that a fun movie, which was genuinely inspiring to young women who seldom see themselves as heroes on the big screen, has been usurped by something that will almost certainly be more of the same.
Put away those badass Holtzmann costumes, little girls, and let the boys play the heroes again. Apparently, she just wasn’t good enough.
Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures.