5 Reasons Why the New Ghostbusters May Not Save the Franchise
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Jason Reitman will direct a new Ghostbusters. The film already has teaser trailer, as well as a prime summer 2020 release date. Dan Aykroyd actually let the news slip last November, even though few believed him at the time. Regardless, Reitman is looking to provide a fresh take on the aging franchise. He is also accepting the metaphorical torch from his father, Ivan Reitman.
However, the new film will completely ignore the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, and Leslie Jones didn’t take the news well. The admirers of that film were also riled up by Reitman’s comments about giving the new film “back to the fans.” Reitman quickly backtracked and apologized for any implied disrespect for Paul Feig and the cast of the remake. Feig was gracious enough to offer words of support for Reitman, but there are still deep divisions within the fanbase.
There is a chance that Reitman’s film could reignite interest in the overall franchise. But it’s problems don’t begin or end with 2016 film, as explained below.
The Premise is Outdated
Ghostbusters was an instant classic and a cultural phenomenon at the box office. It’s not a perfect film, but it was really terrific. However, it was designed as a standalone story, not a springboard for sequels. That’s probably why it took five years for Ghostbusters 2 to see the light of day. In many ways, the sequel is a good argument that it should never have been a franchise to begin with.
With the exception of The Real Ghostbusters animated series, almost every incarnation of the franchise has failed to catch on. The movies and animated series have essentially repeated the story of the original. Ghostbusters 2 is a prime example of this. If Reitman wants the new Ghostbusters to catch on, the movie can’t simply rely on the formula of the original. That’s something that the filmmakers of the 2016 remake discovered the hard way.
It’s Overly Reliant on Nostalgia
Shortly after the new Ghostbusters was announced, Sony dropped a teaser for the film. It offered a quick look at Ecto-1, and had just a hint of the tone Reitman wants to reestablish. It practically screams Stranger Things. That show is very overt about the original film’s influence. However, Stranger Things took that nostalgia and made its own story. How is the new film going to do the same thing without getting bogged down?
Strangely enough, the teaser trailer felt like it was trying to cash in on the ’80s nostalgia that Stranger Things rode in on. Is there really any artistic merit for a new Ghostbusters film? Or is it just another chance for Sony to cash in after mishandling the last movie? The bigger question is whether Reitman is bringing anything new to the table. If he can’t do that, then it will simply retread everything that’s been done before. That’s not exactly a recipe for success.
Familial Connections Don’t Always Mean Quality
On some level, it’s fitting that Reitman is taking the reigns from his father. Unfortunately, the late Harold Ramis was a key part of the first two films, both as a performer and a screenwriter. So far, no one has been able to make it work without Ramis’ deft comic touch. Additionally, we can’t help but remember Solo: A Star Wars Story. Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jon Kasdan, seemed like the right choice on paper. And yet that father and son duo couldn’t recapture the magic of the elder Kasdan’s Star Wars movies.
The circumstances for the new Ghostbusters and Solo are vastly different. But both films want to pass the torch for a new generation of moviegoers. Perhaps relying on the familial connection was a mistake. Jason Reitman has worked on some wonderful films, including Juno and Thank You For Smoking. But can he really replicate his father’s success? That’s a hard burden for any filmmaker to bare, perhaps even more so when they’re family.
A Sequel Won’t Work Without Bill Murray in a Significant Role
Ghostbusters 3 has one of the most storied development in Hollywood history. Bill Murray’s reluctance to appear in a third film essentially stopped it in its tracks. Murray’s performance in the original was the heart and soul of that film. His character, Peter Venkman, is crucial to the franchise’s identity. As a courtesy, Murray did make a cameo in the 2016 reboot. But it was much more fun when he reprised his role as Venkman in voiceovers for Ghostbusters: The Video Game. His presence is absolutely necessary for the new Ghostbusters to work in any capacity. Moreover, his role needs to be a significant one, even more than any of the other original players who are sure to return.
Last month, Ernie Hudson suggested all of the three living Ghostbusters would return if asked. Hudson also noted that he has not been asked yet. It should also be said Hudson may be the least reliable source for information on the project, next to Dan Akroyd himself. Murray is also notoriously difficult to pin down. It’s difficult to assess whether Murray will actually do the project, or if he would commit to anything beyond a cameo. But there’s no purpose in trying to make the new Ghostbusters a continuation of the first two without Murray reprising his role in a meaningful way. No one is looking forward to this movie just for Aykroyd and Hudson.
It’s a Reactionary Move
It’s time to address the elephant in the room – the 2016 female-led reboot. The film was unjustly maligned because of the backlash to the casting, long before filming began. But the real reason it failed wasn’t because it was led by women. It was simply a rehash of the original movie that didn’t offer anything new beyond the gender of its main characters. It’s a shockingly mediocre remake that put the entire future of the franchise in peril.
The new Ghostbusters feels like a last-ditch attempt at resurrecting the franchise. It was never meant to be a cinematic universe, and it’s time may have passed. Years ago, Ivan Reitman and Akroyd lamented the fact that they essentially waited a bit too long to make Ghostbusters 2. That was 30 years ago, and it’s much too late for Ghostbusters 3. It would take a miraculously crafted film to turnaround the fortunes of Ghostbusters. It may simply be impossible for the new film to live up to its lofty expectations, or to satisfy the fans of the original. But that doesn’t mean Reitman and company won’t try.
How do you feel about the future of the Ghostbusters? Let us know in the comment section below!