When discussing “Ghostbusters,” I have to tread lightly in certain regards. I spent a good portion of 2014 conducting interviews with many of the people involved with the films, and one of the things that we discussed was the way the future of the franchise might unfold. Those interviews are the property of the book company I was working for, and you'll learn all sorts of amazing things when they release that book later this year.
I think it's safe to say, though, that Dan Aykroyd in particular seemed determined to open up the world of the Ghostbusters when we spoke, which should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the development of the original film. When Aykroyd took his first shot at the script for the original film, it was a huge-canvass science-fiction movie with inter-dimensional travel and Ghostbusters offices open in cities around the world. In the 1984 film, there's a moment after they walk out of the bank where they just used Ray's grandmother's house as collateral for a loan, and Venkman tries to reassure him, saying, “The franchise rights alone will make us rich.”
Up till now, that has remained one of the great unrealized promises in a film. Since 1984, it has seemed clear to me that the way you make “Ghostbusters” movies as a series is simply by opening new offices in other cities. I'd love to see Eddie Izzard, Chris Dowd, Rich Fuller, Nick Frost, and Noel Fielding open a London branch (or Rebel Wilson, Bridget Christie, Katherine Ryan, and Shappi Khorsandi), while someone could do something totally different with a Hong Kong office or a Moscow office or a South American office. I think there's a huge opportunity to tell stories with very different casts that reflect very different points of view here, and with that as the goal, Paul Feig's female-driven “Ghostbusters” looks very different, indeed.
I think Deadline is doing everyone involved a disservice by pitching this Russo Bros. movie as the “guys-only” version. I don't believe for a second that anyone actually said, “Let's make a version just for guys!” Right now, Ivan Reitman, Joe and Anthony Russo, screenwriter Drew Pearce, and Channing Tatum are all involved, with Tatum co-producing along with Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan. Obviously the goal is to get Tatum to suit up as a Ghostbuster in this version, but I'd be surprised if the film's ultimate goal is “guys only.” Dan Aykroyd hinted heavily at the formation of Ghostcorps, the production company that Aykroyd and Reitman have formed to help steer the future of this series, and anyone who is grumbling today that a second “Ghostbusters” film is somehow a step back from diversity should pump the brakes a bit. Until we see what the next few films and the next few teams look like, it seems premature to start complaining.
After all, the Paul Feig film is still the first one out of the gate. He's hard at work with Katie Dippold on the script, and they're gearing up to shoot later this year. It was fun seeing photos of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon together at the “Saturday Night Live” 40th anniversary celebration, and I am very eager to see what Feig puts together.
But I'm just as excited by the idea that this may finally mean Sony sees “Ghosbusters” as one of the most flexible franchise ideas in town. Sometimes, I think it is important that you keep the same characters from film to film, because the characters are what we invest in, but not every franchise has to be approached the same way. Being a Ghostbuster is a job, and you can rotate anyone in or out of the series through a simple hiring or firing. This may be even easier to keep fresh than Fox's “X-Men” franchise, which should be movie-star-proof, except the studio has made the mistake of leaning too heavily on Wolverine at the expense of the larger ensemble. Here, you should be able to put any interesting combination of comic talent together and come up with a new way of playing around with supernatural mythology from around the world.
The Russos are important to Marvel right now as they gear up to shoot “Captain America: Civil War,” which will introduce the new Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the brothers are also heavily rumored to be the directors for the two part “Avengers: Infinity War” event, and that means that if they're going to direct a “Ghosbusters” movie as well, there's going to need to be a script ready to go during whatever window in their schedule opens up next year.
We'll see what this film eventually looks like, but for now, I think it's irresponsible to start creating a gender battle line where there isn't one yet, particularly when no one's using this other “Ghostbusters” as an excuse to do any damage to the Feig version.
There should be a “Ghostbusters” of some sort in theaters in 2016.