I think we would all agree that there are certain topics that tend to go out of hand when “discussed” on the internet. Religion and Politics are two of the more common touchy subject that most people would try to avoid if drama is not what their looking for. Who would have thought that Ghostbusters would become one of those subject? The first trailer became one the most disliked videos on youtube, the director had a meltdown on twitter and told people to “F*%$ themselves”, people are calling each other names for not wanting to watch the film. What a complete mess.
Now before people start making assumption about what side of this debacle I’m taking and start throwing insults my way, I feel I need to explain where I relative to the Ghostbuster franchise prior the whole thing hit the fan. As you may already be aware I’m not american, neither did I grow up in the United States, so Ghostbusters was not something I grew up with, heck I was not even born back then. Therefore it not a franchise that has left a mark on my childhood. The closest I ever got to the franchise when I was really young was the classic theme song, as my mother had it on vinyl and remember listening to it at my grandparent’s house.
If I recall correctly, the first time that I watched the movie was when it came out on UMD in 2005 for Sony’s Playstation portable console (The UMD was sony’s proprietary format for game on the PSP, and eventually released films on the format for on the go movie experience, a novel idea at the time). I thought it was good film and that the special effects were quite impressive at the time. I could understand why it was a cult classic at the time. It had a good mix of humor and thriller/horror elements to it and the action was never over the top. For example, toward the end of the film, they have to climb to the top of the building in order to confront Gozer the destroyer. In any run of the mill mindless action figure, the hero would have simply rushed out of a door on the top floor without breaking a sweat or running out of breath, in the original ghostbusters, you see them struggling up the stairs complaining and whining as they make their way up 22 flights of stairs. This not only serve as a comedic moment but also help ground the movie in reality, as carrying a portable particle accelerator on your a back must be quite a tedious task. Basically, ghostbusters is a clever and well written film that plays it self serious with a healthy dose of subtle and refined humor.
I did eventually watch the sequel when I was in college. While the consensus is that it is a bad film, I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it is true that it not as funny or as suspenseful as the first one, I think it still has it’s moments.
So to recap: I did not grow up with ghostbusters but still like the franchise. Cool.
This brings us to the now controversial reboot/remake. When I heard that they were going to make new movie that would feature an all female lead, I did not think much of it at the time. It came across like an curious choice to me but I simply wrote it off as Hollywood’s attempt at “diversity”. I was going to hold judgement on the film until the trailer or some promotional image came out. Having enjoyed both “The Heat” and “Spy”, two of Paul Feig’s recent movies, I felt that there was some potential in the reboot. I started to worry at little bit by the end of 2015 because all that come out of Sony were some teaser of the jumpsuits and of the Ecto-1 car. I would have thought that Sony would at least post a rough trailer before 2016, as Ghostbusters is lined up to be their only big release of summer 2016.
When the trailer was finally released by march of this year, like a lot of people on the internet, I was less then impressed but more importantly, I was confused. Sony had made a point to state that this new ghostbuster was going to be a completely new story and had nothing to do with the original films and yet the first things we see are literally this:
If it is supposed to be a brand new story where the original story never happened, why bother reference the original story? The first scene we get to see is three of the soon to be ghostbusters encountering a full torso apparition(no legs) in what seems to be a library, you know, exactly like the original film… It seems that that Sony has a different definition of what a “completely new story” means… Also I’m not sure if the first joke about slime getting “into every crack” is supposed to be sexual or not, but if it is, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the movie. The neon blue ghost are rather bland considering all the cool stuff you can do now a days with CGI. The rest of the trailer is hardly note worthy with maybe the exceptions of the Exorcist joke that was mildly funny, though a strange choice of gag since I feel like that joke has already being done to death in countless other skit and parody films. I guess the dead are not the only thing they brought back to life.
Then something interesting happened, someone who claimed to work for sony and have seen the a finished rough cut of the movie leaked the plot on reddit (the thread was apparently removed but here is an archive of the conversation, spoiler warning!). The interesting thing about this possible leak is that it contained several specific details that did appear in the first trailer, which had come out a couple days prior the leak, but were present in the international trailer that came out a couple days after, like the green dragon and the whole machine to summon ghosts plot element. I think it was around that point in time that my expectations of the movie crashed and that the media start churning out articles about how you don’t like the trailer you were obviously a giant women hater.
Let’s rewind back a year or two to the sony hack of 2014. Among the emails that were leaked by who we assume to be North Koreans, there was an email between Amy pascal, then a big honcho at Sony, and Paul Feig about Paul’s pitch for his version of Ghostbusters. While it is clear that this version of the story is not the final version it has a couple interesting tidbits, including the government trying to undermine the credibility of the ghostbusters, covering up the the paranormal activity, and a dance number by members of the army and the police. While it might read like bad fan fiction, I feel like this pitch is closer to a fresher Ghostbusters story that had more potential than the one presented by the trailer.
Now forward back to a couple days ago when a fresh set of trailer, and more importantly the second international trailer. Politician undermining the ghostbusters on tv? 32 second mark. Government cover up? 1:36 of the second trailer. Giant dance section with police and army? (also predicted in the reddit leak) A bit more tricky, but we see a huge collection of soldiers and police officers a few seconds in and then at the 1:01 mark, you can see in the background that everyone has taken a dance pose. Here are couple screencaps as well to illustrate my point:
You might argue that something to be expected, movie plot are not set in stone from start to finish and some things will stay and something changes so what? Well, I think there is more to those changes than simple script evolution.
After the whole trailer-hatred-sexism thing hit the media, Mellisa McCarthy did come out and said that she also didn’t like the original trailer but the executive did not care for her opinion. This seed my mind with a theory as to why something felt off with this movie: Executive meddling.
I would like to posit the following theory: Paul Feig was originally given carte-blanche and creative freedom for his Ghostbusters film by Amy pascal. However Amy pascal was eventually kicked out of Sony after the email scandal and another set of executive took over the Ghostbusters project and they were worried that Feig’s take on the franchise was too different and would alienate the fans of the original franchise and forced him to make the film closer to the originals. That would explain the meltdown on twitter, due to the frustration of the executive meddling with the film, and explain some of the rumored production troubles and the original trailer’s heavy dose of nostalgia.
One last thing that would support my theory is the supposed ending: the ghostbusters listen to that magnetic tape you can briefly see in the trailer and they hear the word “zuul”. If that is true, then we can infer only one thing: they want to make sequel where the villain would be Gozer… You know because completely different and original means just copy & paste from the original these days…
I could be completely wrong about this but I feel like this theory answers all the issues I am seeing with movie. I am still on the fence on wether or not I will be seeing it in theatre when it comes out. These new trailer are far superior to the first ones, and had they come out first, I would have gone and seen the movie during the opening weekend without a second though. However, the first trailers combined by the amount of vitriol spewed by the media, I will probably wait until the review are out before making my decision.
If you are interested to learn more about some of the rumors and backdoor finagling surrounding ghostbusters, the Midnight’s edge youtube channel made three real good videos on ghostbusters which you can find here, here and here.