This morning I saw my first look at the trailer for the new Ghostbusters film by Sony, coming to theatres the summer of this year (2016). According to YouTube, it was first published yesterday, March 3rd, and already has over 9.3mm views. That’s pretty good, and a full 99,990 gave the trailer a ‘thumbs up’. While almost 180k people gave it a ‘thumbs down’, I’m sure the people at Sony are not too disappointed, turnouts like this for a trailer lead to ticket sales, regardless of how good the movie is.
So here is where I start to play both sides of the fence…. I am a movie nut, and I really think that Ghostbusters is one of those movies that defined an era and set the stage for the modern movies that we know today. As with everything else, movies evolve. Movies grow and morph with each subsequent movie that is released. Some movies take baby steps in improvement from one to the other, and others make larger leaps. Others do things totally unheard of and really change the way we view all movies that come after. It seems that in just about every decade there are one or two movies that really sculpt that generation’s thinking. There will always be debate as to whether the progression is good or bad (or if there is such a thing as good or bad progression – as progression by itself is actually a ‘good thing’ in theory…but that’s another discussion for another day.) Younger generations will love what is happening with the new movies and older generations will wonder what is happening to the younger generations and yearn for a time when Citizen Kane ruled the world.
With that being said, I’m not really here to make a judgement call. I’m not a film critic…I’m a film lover, but certainly no critic. To me, the art of movie making is amazing itself, the last thing they need is some nit wit like me judging them. Whether it’s the director knowing how a scene should develop, the writer determining the biggest surprise twist to the main character, the actress making each of us believe she truly is the character she is portraying (not the same person who just played an exactly different role), the producer, who determines that getting Michael J Fox to play Marty McFly is crucial to the movie’s success, or the million and one other jobs on the set, it is MAGIC! To me art at its most amazing height is just that…magic. We totally forget that what we’re bearing witness to may or may not be real, and honestly, we don’t care. We are so entranced with what is happening around us, that our way of thinking will never be the same. We may not go out and treat ourselves, our family and friends, or even total strangers differently because we just saw Apocalypse Now, read Steven King’s new thriller, or fell in love with the depth of Mona Lisa’s eyes, but the lens, which we view life through, will never be quite the same. Imperceptible, perhaps, but sometimes evolution works in such ways. It only takes a minor change to set in motion movements that change the world.
Based on the title of this blog post, you probably think that I’m here to crap on the Ghostbusters reboot because it’s not as good as the original. Nope, not the case. While I’m not here to ridicule how incredibly bad it is, I’m also not here to bellow how amazing it is either. The truth is, from what I can tell, it looks really funny. I’m a huge fan of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. They strike me as absolutely genius in their personality, both on screen and off of it. I don’t know anything about the other two main Ghostbusters (or is it Ghostbustersesses?), but the black character seems great; the other one, ehh, not so much. I also believe that Paul Feig has a knack for getting the best out of the comedic genius that he’s surrounded with. While he kind of seems to be a one trick pony in his movie style, his flix’ are always funny. Truth be told though, if you could hitch your wagon to Melissa M, wouldn’t you do the same? It would be HAAARRRRDDD not to!
So if I’m not here to rag on how bad GB.reboot is compared to GB.one, and I’m not here to tell everyone how great it is and to go see it, what am I trying to say (welcome to my family’s world – I think the majority of the time they are wondering the same thing?)
What I’m trying to say is this:
The movie is going to be original. It is going to be unique. It is going to be its own beast. It is going to take the first GB and flip it on its head. So my question is this, why do we feel like we need to call it Ghostbusters? Why can’t we call it something different and let the movie stand on its own two feet? You’ve got a great cast, an amazing group of behind the scenes teammates, and presumably an awesome script. Why not show the movie in all of its glory and let everyone love it without comparing it? Isn’t this the same fatal flaw that just about every movie on earth goes through when they make a sequel that wasn’t meant for a sequel (FYI> Harry Potter books, Hunger Games, James Bond movies…all meant for sequels…Caddyshack, Grease, Jaws…nope.) Aren’t we just setting this amazing piece of art up for a fall because everyone will HAVE to compare it to the original…because that’s why it was made (or at least named), right, to compare to the original?
I assume that this is some sort of wonderful ploy that the marketers at Sony have come up with in order generate a buzz. What kind of buzz are we generating though, and even more importantly, WHY? If we’re simply trying to make money, perhaps their move will work…in the short run, at least. After all, there will be discussion and controversy over the naming. It will get talk and people will see the movie to determine whether it is better or worse. But what if the point of the movie is to not only make money, but to entertain, and even better yet, create art? Is there a reason that all three can’t be done with the same amount of effort?
Obviously there’s still the reality that if we make a comedy about four people who drive a suped-up hearse and take on ghosts, people will know we’re remaking Ghostbusters. I’m not trying to say that. I’m only saying that there is something to be said for originality and how to do something great, new, and amazing without regurgitating something that we should enjoy separately. I have little doubt that my idea would go over like a lead balloon in Hollywood. There is just no way that studio execs, who make their money on balance sheets and income statements of the present quarter, versus planning five or 10 years from now, would ever approve of the idea of doing something original with a touch of risk as opposed to something safe albeit with limited upside….
At the end of the day, the movie may end up amazing and engrossing the next generation of Ghostbusters’ viewers like the original did in 1984 or it may leave everyone wondering why on earth they had to ‘screw with a good thing’. Twitter will be abuzz with the comparisons, and our amazing team of actors, actresses, directors, and producers will tout the picture on Ellen and The View, while still kissing up to the original. That is what the Sony group was looking for. They’ll succeed in the eyes of everyone around them, they’ll feel like this is a victory (and again, to many, it will be), but my guess is that five years from now, finding a copy of the Ghostbusters reboot will be difficult, it won’t be playing on Comedy Central on Sunday afternoons, and our children’s children certainly won’t be thinking of remaking it again in 2047.
So as funny as the GB.reboot team WILL be, by rebooting this film, we’re probably doing a disservice to the movie business evolving in the best possible way. We’re growing, but we’re taking a great opportunity and settling for baby steps because they’re safer. Will Sony get burnt by this approach on GB.reboot? Naw. They’ll do just fine. Will this approach hurt Sony down the road though? Dunno, but my guess is yes. By that time though, there probably won’t be anyone left from the current Sony executive team, so it will just be another brand that doesn’t work. Long gone are the days when Sony meant Walkman and Discman and Portable phone and innovation. Now I guess it just means let everyone else do the original and occasionally risky things and we’ll try to kinda make it just a little bit better.