I’ve been rolling this whole thing around in my head for the last month. Really a few months, since this was the threatened direction for the next Ghostbusters film. A film that I’ve been waiting for since 1989. I’ve wanted more Ghostbusters and now it’s actually going to happen. I’m going to get what I wished for… but you know what they say… be careful what you wish for, you may actually get it.
About five and a half years ago, I even listed Paul Feig on a post about who should direct a third Ghostbusters film. I had found a list of potential directors on a couple of sites, and added Feig to the list, so in the words of Egon Spengler, “I blame myself.” At the time, I said:
“Paul Feig is a director that was also the creator of the short lived, but brilliant show Freaks and Geeks. He’s directed many of the funniest episodes of such shows as The Office and Arrested Development. His comedy style seems like it’d be a good fit for a new Ghostbusters, as he is able to capture the feel of the 80s so well in Freaks and Geeks, which wouldn’t necessarily matter for a modern day GB film, but it would at least keep the overall feel of the series thus far intact. I wouldn’t mind seeing his name attached to the helm.”
What a difference five years makes. Feig has directed a bunch of movies that I’ve never seen. I’ve only seen about 20 minutes of Bridesmaids, and didn’t enjoy it. And now Feig loves working with women. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. The problem lies in the makeup of the team. If Feig had said that he was continuing the story with a new team that would include women, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Over the years there have been many women that have been on the team. Having a team with at least one guy opens up the property so that boys and girls alike can watch and enjoy it, and see someone that they could dream that they might one day grow up to become. Seeing someone of your own gender in a role gives you something to aspire to.
What are Paul Feig’s plans?
“How do you come back into a world that’s had these ghosts and all this? It just felt too difficult. How do you do it and not screw it up? But then it was bugging me for the next few days because Ghostbusters is such a great thing and everybody knows it, and it’s such a great world. It’s a shame to just let this thing sit there. I want to see another one. My favorite thing to do is work with funny women. I was like, what if it was an all female cast? If they were all women? Suddenly, my mind kind of exploded: that would be really fun. And then I thought, well, what if we just make it new? It’s not coming into the world that existed before. It’s always hard if the world has gone through this big ghost attack, how do you do it again? I wanted to come into our world where there’s talk of ghosts but they’re not really credible, and so what would happen in our world if this happened today?”
So… it’s a reboot… with all women… not a mixed team. Not one man and three women, two men and two women, not three men and one woman. Four women. It also rules out Oscar being a Ghostbuster. There goes Sigourney Weaver’s wish for the third film. Plus, a ground up reboot? That also means no Raymond Stantz, no Winston Zeddemore, and definitely no Peter Venkman. And that’s sad. It would have been great to have had it been so long since the last major ghost attack, that the general public is largely unaware or disinterested. It’s New York City, there could be some ghost attack, and the people could react by ignoring it. There are a great many possibilities that we’ll never get to see.
“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…”
I enjoy a good origin story, too… but that’s exactly what Ghostbusters 3 was going to be! The passing of the torch to a new team of Ghostbusters is an incredibly unique origin story in a world where nearly every super hero origin has them starting from scratch. Just have Ray and Winston answer a call about a ghost attack, and find that they need to hire some new busters… girls show up about the job, and Feig’s dream cast is built throughout the movie. The rules of the Ghostbusters universe are pretty well set for something like this, too: each movie required a much larger supernatural event for the ghosts to begin appearing. Plus, the world can be as skeptical about the existence of ghosts as Feig wants… a kid in Ghostbusters II establishes that within the first few minutes of the movie: “he just said you guys are full of crap, and that’s why you went out of business.”
“Those are my comedy heroes. So as far as I’m concerned, anybody wants to come back I welcome with open arms. It would just be in different roles now, but it would be fun to figure out how to do that.”
Just… let it be the same universe… please…
“But we want to tell the stories that we would like to tell, which means we want to tell the character arcs that we want to tell, which means we want to start with some of our characters in a different place or with different personalities and things they have to overcome and learn through the experience of this first movie. My number one thing is always about character and what is somebody learning from or transforming through whatever happens to them in the movie. So I think there will be definitely room to play with that. We want to do clever nods to it, but not cloying nods to it. We want to have the ability to really bring it into modern day.”
He said “this first movie.” This means there will be more, and they’re likely writing a treatment for a trilogy. That’s my guess, but I have no reason to doubt it, in this age of multi-film sagas being planned well in advance. I don’t mind this so much, and I don’t want to sound repetitive, but why couldn’t movie three have been a bridge movie? Instead of this being J.J. Abrams’ directing Star Wars: Episode VII, this is J.J. Abrams’ directing Star Trek, without trying to honor what came before even half as much.
“I think funny people in peril and in danger is one of the best forms of comedy, and I really like things to play very real while funny things are happening. So that’s what both Katie and I really want to do with this one is make it crazy funny but also you’re scared at the same time. Katie loves to do that stuff and I do too. I went down to Comic-Con with Jessie Henderson who is my producing partner and we were down there, and I was like, “I’ve got to get Katie to do this.” Jessie goes, “she’s here.” We met up on the floor of Comic-Con and then went to have lunch and that’s when I brought it up to her and she was really excited about the idea. It was a done deal right in that moment.”
This means that Feig has been a lock to direct the movie since at least July. Regarding the scare factor, though… Ghostbusters succeeded by not being overly scary. It wasn’t a horror movie, and didn’t belong in the horror section. It’s a comedy. Both movies have scary moments, but they’re moments that are equally silly in many ways. I’d rather Feig tries to scare, and then dials back a bit into territory that is re-watchable.
Feig also said that he doesn’t have the cast list set in stone. He has some ideas, but says they have to be the right composition.
Here’s my dream cast for Ghostbusters 3: Bill Hader, Zachary Levi, Emma Stone and Judy Reyes. I feel it’s a good mix of experience and youth, strength, comedy, attitude and intellect. It’s also well balanced.
Feig comments about why he feels calling it the gimmick that it is, isn’t right.
“I go: four female Ghostbusters to me is really fun. I want to see that dynamic. I want to see that energy and that type of comedy and them going up against these ghosts and going up against human detractors and rivals and that kind of thing. When people accuse it of being a gimmick I go, why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men is just a normal movie?”
Here’s why it’s a gimmick: because it’s a Ghostbusters film. In Bridesmaids it wasn’t a gimmick. In an original property, it wouldn’t be a gimmick. The reason we’ll be having this conversation even after the movie is released is because it is a gimmick, no matter how you slice it. The movie having four men doesn’t make it a “normal movie.” That would have just made it a movie, and that argument is just a distraction that makes it a argument based on sexism, which it isn’t to all people. Again, I would have been fine with women on the team. A team of four women in an origin about a property that has existed before in film, tv and comic books, for thirty years makes it a gimmick… unless it was a team that was established in a continuation of the stories of the past and incidentally, by the end of the movie, they were all women. In short: if this was a completely original movie, an no Ghostbusters movies were made before it, and Feig said he was going to be making a comedy with four women who catch ghosts, people wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Yeah, this is the first thing that’s made me relatively okay with this. That said, I don’t want to see a group of women wearing the female Ghostbuster Halloween costume as their uniform for the new film. I’m glad it’s not going to be another Karate Kid type remake (which I still have not seen).
I have to admit that after reading this interview with Paul Feig, conducted by Entertainment Weekly, it only sounded worse and worse as it went on. And it still stings, even though I haven’t seen it yet. I know the plans for it don’t involve it being a continuation of any kind, and that makes me sad. Someone said to me, “now you know how I felt about the Star Wars prequels.” That was actually a bad example, because the Star Wars prequels were and are part of the same universe. Lucas didn’t ignore everything that came before.
That said, there was one article that kind of, sort of, helps to put things into perspective.
“We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
The author of the article is talking about Twin Peaks, but he’s actually talking about more of anything. He wants more Star Wars like I do, more X-Files, more of everything.
He even makes a very interesting point regarding when books are made into movies. It’s a point that I’ve made over and over again over the last ten years. A movie cannot, and does not, ruin the story. That is impossible. Do you still have a copy of the book that you read? Can you read it again and get the same story you had read the first time? I guess Stephen King used to show copies of his books to an interviewer who said that a movie had “ruined” his book, to prove that the book hasn’t changed, because you can’t change the source material.
If the new content is good, then you have more to enjoy. If it’s bad, then you can go ahead living with the content that you loved. Just stay away and re-watch the ones that you loved. No one is forcing you to watch the new stuff. “There is no release that can reach into your brain and hurt your enjoyment of something you care about. There is no remake or update that can grab the content from your shelves and flush it down the toilet. The original series is safe.”
“We have no idea if the new series will be enjoyable or well made, but I have a feeling with the talent involved it will at least be interesting. I don’t mind people saying they’re not going to watch, as telling people how to spend their few free hours a day is a fool’s game, but I do get salty when they argue that it’s a bad move to even try to make more of a good thing.”
“Don’t remove the possibility of quality content because you’re scared of being let down. Your past is safe. If Hollywood makes more of something you enjoy, you might get more of something you enjoy. You might get something that fails to live up to the original in every way, but if that’s the case the content is safely ignored. The risk is next to zero. The possible rewards are great.” (via Polygon)
What are your thoughts?