In late January, Sony announced Paul Feig would be directing an all-female Ghostbusters reboot. I didn’t like it, but the studio announced something yesterday I like even less.
Original film director Ivan Reitman and writer/star Dan Akroyd have been tapped to oversee a Ghostbusters cinematic universe, starting with Feig’s film, scheduled for July 2016, and continuing with a complimentary all-male movie the next year. The news broke with Drew Pearce attached to write, Joe and Anthony Russo attached to direct and produce, and Channing Tatum attached to produce and probably star. The studio plans to turn Ghostbusters into a pervasive film, television and merchandising presence.
The pending Feig film is not the landmark feminist victory some made it out to be at the time, but there was backlash. A lot of it was concern that the film would be poor because remakes almost always are, but a lot of it was the viscous sexist white noise Internet anonymity makes possible. The best way to deal with a person who honestly believes men should hold a superior place in society is to ignore them, and that was particularly easy in this case because they still have to deal with a midsummer blockbuster next year that says they’re wrong. But now, Sony has validated the purely sexist part of that anger with another blockbuster that says they’re right.
The backlash against Sony for this move was also instant and much more articulate. At this point it’s tough not to view the company as delusional. The apparent decision to spit in the face of everyone who thought the Feig movie was important for feminism and spit again in the face of everyone who thought the franchise should stay buried is completely bewildering and beyond ill-advised. Just about any human person paying any kind of attention to the situation could predict that Sony would take tremendous heat for this.
This is speculative, but the handling of this is so colossally stupid it begs the question — is this about losing Spider-Man?
Between the two Ghostbusters announcements, Sony finally signed the film rights to Marvel’s iconic webslinger back to the company after almost a decade of trying to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before giving up the ghost, they announced plans for Sinister Six, Venom and, somehow, Aunt May spin-offs. Is the studio trying to fill that void with Ghostbusters?
The idea is repulsive, but the original ’84 classic has been milked for years into a sequel, another that was stuck in Development Hell for 20 years, two television series and several video games. Despite the most recent Ghostbusters movie being 25 years old, the rights holders never really gave up on it. Trying to compete directly with Marvel is suicide, as DC is working on demonstrating, but if Sony is still Hell-bent on doing it, an extended Ghostbusters continuity, however ill-advised, would seem like the next step.
Through the Spider-Man fiasco and the anti-feminist backlash over the Feig movie, Sony has revealed they are susceptible to public pressure, so they could be forced to back off this line of productions. That might mean the beginning of the end for a production company desperate for consistent hits, but who would miss them after all this?