January 21, 2019

Ghostbusters Reboot Has a Director, What About Its Cast (and Gender)

The Ghostbusters "Do-Over" Turns to a Familiar Name... And Gender?
Is Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters Director/Producer Ivan Reitman, here to right the ship? 

When a valuable franchise falters oftentimes changes are made, and new voices are brought in. What we'll watch closely here is if, in the instance of Ghostbusters, the decision to move forward with an all-female cast is scrapped.

That choice came with controversy. One that was ugly, unfortunate, and quite frankly ridiculous.

Ghostbusters is one of those iconic and beloved 1980's franchises, so it's no surprise that Sony wants to go back to that well. Reports of a Ghostbusters 3 have been around since not long after Ghostbusters 2, which was 30 years ago in 1989. Eventually, there was 2016's reboot directed by Paul Feig, and starring a female cast. 

With the female cast came controversy sparked largely by internet trolls. The movie also failed to earn back a profit. How those two things worked in conjunction is up for some debate. 

Of course these days it takes more than one flop to scare a studio away from valuable, nostalgia-laden I.P.  And thus it was no big surprise to see that Ghosts would be busted again at a theater near you. 

The interesting, and potentially explosive, aspect of it all at this early stage is if the new Ghostbusters will continue to reflect a diverse cast, or if it will shrink away from that challenging but noble task.

The first choice made was to hire a familiar name. That in itself does reflect a desire for safety.

Ivan Reitman directed and produced the original 1984 Ghostbusters. It was a script from stars Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd (with heavy and infamous adlibbing by star Bill Murray). The end result of Ghostbusters is that it is truly inimitable.

There is no other movie quite like Ghostbusters. It's a comedy/sci-fi... blockbuster. It's bizarre, hilarious, and flat out weird. Before that, the senior Reitman was known for his work on early 1980's comedy gems Meatballs, Animal House, and Stripes

So much of what made the original Ghostbusters was the lightning in the bottle of its concept and cast. Even the sequel with the same team intact failed to replicate its unique magic. 

His son, Jason Reitman has certainly had a swath of success carving out his own career in the shadow of his father's massive success. The younger Reitman is known for Juno, and Up in the Air among others. 

Do those types of films and their tone make him a natural pick for a Ghostbusters movie? Not really. Certainly not in the way that Paul Feig seemed. 

With Feig, it seemed like Sony was making a bold choice to pursue his unique ability to combine humor with humanity. You could certainly see how Feig's resume, with Freaks and Geeks and Bridesmaids, makes him a fit in much the same way that Ivan Reitman was a fit with Meatballs and Animal House.

With the cast, Feig had a group of extremely funny and talented actresses. The choice to try and recreate a different kind of lightning in a different kind of bottle was a creatively bold one. 

As skilled and accomplished a filmmaker as Jason Reitman is, let's be honest: nepotism is a greater comfort to Hollywood than controversy and diversity is. 

And does the name really help? Do most movie-goers globally put together, or care, that the director of the new one is a child of the director of the first one?  If Solo: A Star Wars Story is any indicator, they do not.

Solo was co-written by a son of celebrated original Star Wars sequel screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan. Fans did not exactly adore that entry into the Star Wars saga, and it gained the unfortunate distinction of being the franchises first flop. 

Does returning to a Reitman suggest that maybe the whole idea here is to get back to what worked? Which begs the original question... are we going to see an erasure of the female reboot cast in favor of a male one? 

Star of the 2016 reboot Leslie Jones certainly thinks so. She was the target of much of the backlash and hatred during the release of the film, and according to Indiewire, she spoke out via twitter about the new film calling it "insulting".

Jones' concern is a fair one. And maybe an indicator that nobody at Sony has contacted her, or her castmates, about the new Ghostbusters.

It would indeed be strange for a major franchise that performed a reboot to scrap cast, characters, direction etc. etc. entirely. In instances like Warner Brothers' troubled D.C. Universe, the casting choices have remained intact despite expensive missteps here and there. When Star Trek Into Darkness failed to perform at expected levels, the same cast of the reboot was brought back for Star Trek Beyond

What a choice to scrap the all-female cast would indicate is a regret of that decision, and more importantly, it's a white flag raised in the face of intolerance. 

Despite a common belief to the contrary, Hollywood does not actually have a set of politics or ethical beliefs it adheres to. Even if particular individuals in the industry have leanings, and express them, bigger commercial reasons dictate decisions. 

Individuals do however still get to decide what they will put their names on and effectively co-sign.

In my view, it would be a shame to signal to the trolls of the world that assaulting the idea of an all-female Ghostbuster cast can bring about the desired result. 

Might we get something of a compromise? Two female Ghostbusters and two male? Maybe of varying backgrounds? If it can be done all the while serving the goal, to make a good movie, don't we all win? 

The question of whether or not artists and filmmakers should consider and adhere to diverse representation in their works is a fiercely debated one. 

In any case, how Sony and the creative team on this movie handle this all is interesting, and there will be hot takes abound either way. 

In a time where equal representation and diversity continues to be a daily and important battle, let's hope Leslie Jones is wrong and Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters doesn't undo the hard-earned progress the 2016 reboot started to make. 

 

Your Comment

10 Comments

Stop worrying about gender. Damn this generation takes all the fun out of life. And yes the 2016 reboot is gone because it sucked. They could not legally make a movie without Retiman's letting them (he holds the rights) and literally they had secret meetings behind his back and pulled their shit on the day of Ramis' funeral. They had lawyers trying to find ways to sue Bill Murray if he did not promote this film (and you can see it in his face in the interviews). Sony tried to fuck the original guys over as much as they could. I am glad that reboot is gone.

January 21, 2019 at 11:28PM, Edited January 21, 11:31PM

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the problem is the media wrongly shaping the narrative that; trolls killed the film.
They are looking beyond a larger pool of people to focus on a small group of red herring ready to use sexist and racist who couldn't have factored in to the box office.
Paul Fieg was the first problem. His films look like cheap comedies. Max Landis explained part of the problem well. It didn't look like a ghostbusters film. it didn't match the continuity of a disaster genre film with some worklace humor involved.
Fiegs movie looked like Pixels/ Eddie Murphies haunted House.
The 2nd part was feminism. People in large masses, don't want it in their film. No more than anyone wants the ghostbusters or Avengers defeating Thanos with the power of jesus christ. Sure, some christians will say the studios finally got it right but you would hate it.
Keep identitarian politics out of films. Why in this case? Because critics were not alloed to review the movie and give it constructive negative reviews. If so, you were deemed sexist. See Richard Roepers rant he made after his backlash.
Or Angy Videogame nerd* who said he just wasn't going to watch the film without gender being any reason for it.
Then Lastly, it just wasn't funny. For the first time, people who did youtube reviews for the film complained about the impromptu style comedy- where the actor throws out a bunch of lines and the editor sees which one was the best.
The new movie hopefully will have the original three and not be some pass the torch to kids. If so, hopefully they choose credible individuals.
I'd take the Mr. Robot/Queen actor and the lead from Oprhan black.
Don't give us saturday night live comedians. ugh....

January 22, 2019 at 12:11AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
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You... you do realize that both Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray WERE SNL cast members....

January 22, 2019 at 11:54AM

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Keith Mullin
Rental Manager
116

were. Back whent hey had Eddie murphy. SNL today.

January 23, 2019 at 6:06AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
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Eddie Murphy hasn't been funny in decades...

All I hear is "I'm old, and I want to go back to a simpler time when we didn't have to think about the morality of rape jokes/culture". Seriously, the way Bill Murray treats Sigourney Weaver is appalling in the original film.

January 23, 2019 at 9:14AM

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Keith Mullin
Rental Manager
116

The fact is most of the people making complaints against Ghostbusters 2016 were women. But Sony had a team deleting the female antagonistic comments to create a narrative that it was only males. And then they paid two newspapers to push that narrative. But there were so many comments the team Sony hired couldn't delete all the comments after a while and the female rage against that film shown through, but the narrative that Sony was pushing already took full steam with the media.

January 22, 2019 at 2:03AM

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Also, it's not a reboot. It's a sequel. It's a direct sequel from the original two, set in modern times.

I'm not going to jump into this movie, or the originals, vs the 2016 movie, because that's what clickbait headlines are for. I will say that I'm hopeful and excited by the idea of a proper sequel that continues the story/timeline of the original films.

January 22, 2019 at 8:06AM

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The 2016 film just wasn't that great. No trolls, just the truth.

January 22, 2019 at 10:42AM

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Let the rain of complaints about the 2016 film commence. Personally I enjoyed the 2016 film. It was funny. I don't think there was any sort of "feminist agenda" on display in the actual film, in the choice to have all of the leads be women, maybe, but no one would have even blinked had it been 4 dudes so...

In any case, I couldn't give a flying ____ about a sequel to the originals. I say this about EVERY sequel, reboot, whatever of nostalgia IP's. I'll watch them, if they are good I'll enjoy them. But I just can't get invested in all of the "oh my god I hope they don't mess it up" drama.

January 22, 2019 at 11:48AM

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Keith Mullin
Rental Manager
116

Hey let's write scripts based around diversity and call people intolerant because they didn't like this poorly executed movie. Come on mate, I'm personally not interested in writing scripts based around inclusion, only good stories. What ever takes my fancy. The film was poor, there was an agenda (as if you can't escape it) and it didn't pay off. End of.

January 23, 2019 at 2:47AM

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Mike Murphy
Film maker
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