By Joe Harker
Everyone knows Ghostbusters, at the very least they recognise the title song and the logo, but the last (and only) great film to bear the name was the first one released back in 1984. An animated series and a disappointing sequel followed in the same decade but plans for a third film were shelved when Bill Murray declined to take part. The death of Harold Ramis in 2014 appeared to conclusively end any plans for another Ghostbusters film.
In 2016 the franchise was rebooted with a new cast but certain fans took against all four Ghostbusters being played by women and the film itself received mixed reviews. The high production budget and marketing costs meant Sony, the production company behind the film, estimated they would need to make $300 million a the box office just to break even. They ended up taking a $70 million loss on the film, which once again appeared to put an end to plans for another film. Until now.
A trailer for a direct sequel to the pair of Ghostbusters movies with the original cast has been released, with the film scheduled for a summer 2020 release. It will be directed by Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan, whose previous films include Juno and Up In The Air.
Dani Di Placido of Forbes suggests that Sony is trying to cash in on the nostalgia fans have for the original film, criticising the 2016 reboot for moving too far away from the source material and not being good enough to justify being so different. The trailer showing the old car, the previous director's son taking over and being a direct sequel to the original movies presses all the right nostalgia buttons.
Nostaliga can be a powerful force at the box office, though it is a dangerous thing to play with. Mishandle the property people get all misty eyed over, or just have the temerity to change it too much for the liking of some, and an angry backlash can quickly develop, just as it did for the 2016 film.
Angry people professing to be Ghostbusters fans attacked the film for having all four leads played by women. Long before the film was released it was receiving abuse from unkind sectors of the internet. The abuse directed at the film and the people involved with making it certainly hurt it at the box office.
Not everyone thinks a new Ghostbusters film is a good idea. Scott Mendelson of Forbes argues that the new film discarding the reboot and going back to the originals represents a win for those who hurled abuse. He points out that Jason Reitman's last few movies haven't been very successful, though concedes many recently successful films are continuations of franchises that were popular decades ago.
There's also no guarantee that the hordes of internet trolls won't find something new to get worked up over. The conversation about the 2016 reboot turned toxic very quickly and the Ghostbusters franchise has been tainted by the abuse hurled at women who took an acting job on a big budget film.
There are some who don't get the hype around Ghostbusters in the first place. Michael Hogan of the Daily Telegraph asked when we can all stop pretending the original film is a comedic masterpiece. He cites reviews of the film when it came out that call it "only intermittently impressive" and say "its jokes, characters and storyline are as wispy as the ghosts themselves".
Despite some middling reviews when it was released a lot of people went to see it and it quickly became a classic. It was the start (and high point) of something big for a lot of people. There's money in the nostalgia but plenty of trolls will think they've achieved victory via their abuse and boycotts. As for the financial forecasts, Sony will want to avoid needing a target of $300 million to break even.