Sunday, 4 October 2015
There Are Now So Many Ghostbusters That It's Questionable Who Exactly We Should Contact Via Telephone
Sony, would you ever stop green-lighting all those Ghostbusters movies? You're going to make yourself sick. Look at you, you've got ectoplasm all over your hands! You haven't even had your dinner yet! Breaking your mother's heart so you are.
I've already been skeptical over the idea of resurrecting Ghostbusters as a franchise, considering that it's a series that's been dormant in cinemas for over 25 years at this point and is currently only 50% good anyway. When it was announced that Paul Feig would be directing a film about an all-woman team, I decided to be optimistic, considering the good track record of the people involved. When it came out that Sony also wanted another Guy Ghostbusters too as a vehicle for their boy toy Channing Tatum (we've all seen the leaked emails but I am still awaiting the leaked diary with 'Mrs. Sony Tatum' written all over it), some of those doubts returned. This week, news came out that Sony are also looking to put together an animated Ghostbusters film. Probably not one about two lads and a gorilla. I think it's worth raising the question again: Are Sony overestimating audience goodwill towards Ghostbusters?
The fact that Disney have Marvel and Star Wars (and, y'know, all their own stuff) means that the other studios are in a frantic arms race trying to launch and sustain as many franchises and shared universes as possible, and Sony are feeling that more than most, particularly after the house of cards that was Amazing Spider-Man collapsed on them, sending cards with 'Sinister Six Spin-Off', 'Aunt May Can Carry Her Own Movie' and 'Channing Tatum=J. Jonah Jameson???' flying all over the place. They're one of the few major studios without a mega-franchise right now, so in an effort to get their dust-gathering property going, the studio set up the 'Ghost Corps', a kind of brain-trust devoted to turning Ghostbusters from a dormant 80s nostalgia flick to a viable 'cinematic universe' and all the sequels, spin-offs and Happy Meal toys that implies. Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd are involved, even though the brain behind Crystal Skull Vodka might be one of the parts of Aykroyd that's least trustworthy.
The Ghost Corps do have a job on their hands turning their IP into a 'universe' though surely? It's easy for the concept to wear on the nerves but at least with properties like the MCU and Star Wars, the room to grow the 'universe' is obvious. Marvel has decades worth of stories to mine from and hundreds of characters, Star Wars presents itself as a 'saga' with an implied epic history, and the various YA books getting Hollywood adaptations are all specifically designed these days to be long-running and packed with world building. There really isn't that much of a pre-existing world to build from with Ghostbusters, other than 'there's ghosts' and 'don't cross the streams'. Despite how Aykroyd might feel about it, the fun of Ghostbusters was in talented comedians with a lot of chemistry bouncing off each other, not dense mythology. Excited fan casting for Eduardo Rivera and Kylie Griffin is not exactly forthcoming on the Internet. In fairness, it will probably be fun and refreshing to see the team of lady comedians don the jumpsuits, strap on proton packs and hunt down some ghosts. But what we have to look forward to after that is another team of male comedians...donning the jumpsuits, strap on proton packs and hunting down some ghosts...and then some cartoons doing the exact same thing. Right now the potential for variety is not obvious. Criticise every superhero movie for being too similar and your criticisms won't be without merit, but Reitman and company will have to get their thinking caps on to avoid this series being literally 100% the same thing every time. It will get old, provided the movies actually do well enough that there's enough of them to get old.
It seems premature for them to be thinking about an animated and boy-team Ghostbusters movies when we haven't even seen a teaser for the Feig version yet, even if what we have seen from that version has looked promising so far. When you factor in the probable hopes for sequels to those three, then Sony are looking ahead at a lot of Ghostbusters when they don't even know for sure just how much the paying public want one yet. It's a case of running before you can walk, but that's just the way it is with major Hollywood franchises in the 21st century. To keep up with their competitors they have to be thinking ten years and ten films ahead at all times. Sony probably hate Harry Potter's stinking guts. No doubt they will look to the astronomical success of Jurassic World for Universal as a cause for optimism, and there's still every chance that Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and company knock it our of the park and finally launch the beloved (and lucrative) franchise Sony have always wanted. But Jurassic World wasn't the only sleeping giant a studio tried to awaken this summer and perhaps the news that Paramount have put the Terminator franchise on hold 'indefinitely' should be the news they keep their eyes on. That was the second attempt at kickstarting Terminator in less than ten years and you maybe get the impression that the number of people who enjoy saying "I'll be back" is not necessarily proportional to the number of people willing to pay to see a new Terminator trilogy. Maybe audience goodwill towards Ghostbusters runs deeper than asking who it is that you're going to call, but if I where Sony I wouldn't go popping the corks off the Ecto Cooler just yet.