Channing Tatum’s all-male ‘Ghostbusters’ film was ‘never real?’

In March 2015, it was reported Sony was working on another Ghostbusters film besides Paul Feig's new reboot. It was said to star Channing Tatum (with Chris Pratt later linked) and heavily suggested by pretty much everyone other than those involved that it would be “all-male.” But Ivan Reitman is now saying the project was “never real.”

Feig's film, which is looking to take second place at the box office this weekend with a healthy $46 million, stars Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, and Kristen Wiig. When it was first announced it was met with a great deal of backlash — backlash which Sony chairman Tom Rothman said was “the greatest thing that ever happened.” While producer Reitman considers that response to be from those for whom Ghostbusters was a seminal moment in their lives, somehow the Channing Tatum/Chris Pratt version was not considered something that would ruin childhoods.

It was billed as being part of a pending Ghostbusters cinematic universe with writer Drew Pearce (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Iron Man 3) admitting he was at least working on some ideas for it. Captain America: Civil Wars' The Russo Brothers were also attached to this other film (Pratt denied involvement entirely) but later exited and explained Feig was further along and they were busy with more Marvel work.

Regardless, even though Reitman was behind the deal, in July of last year he said, “There has been a lot of excitement recently about what is happening with the Ghostbusters franchise. As the producer of the new Ghostbusters film, I feel the need to clarify. There is only one new Ghostbusters movie and that is the Paul Feig directed version coming next July, presently filming and going fantastically. The rest is just noise.”

At the time it seemed both an important thing to say considering the backlash to Feig's film, but also kind of weird considering the work already being done. But The Globe and Mail just posted an article that makes the Channing project even less likely.

What Reitman is definitely not working on, though, is a male-led Ghostbusters reboot to compliment Feig”s Melissa McCarthy-starring film. When Ghost Corps launched last March, trade publications reported that a Channing Tatum/Chris Pratt Ghostbusters was also in the works from the Russo brothers (Captain America: Civil War) – which immediately led critics to wonder if Sony had already lost confidence in its female-centric version.

“I was never involved in that, it was never real,” says Reitman, who”s stayed quiet during all the years of varied speculation and development. “There was a writer hired by the studio who did 30 pages, and it wasn”t very good … The biggest misconception was that we were creating a parallel film in case the girls version didn”t work out. But the only movie we were making was Paul”s movie. It never faltered.”

It's tough to parse what Reitman says here versus what he told Deadline in 2015.  He previously said, “Paul Feig”s film will be the first version of that, shooting in June to come out in July 2016. He”s got four of the funniest women in the world, and there will be other surprises to come. The second film has a wonderful idea that builds on that. Drew will start writing and the hope is to be ready for the Russo Brothers” next window next summer to shoot, with the movie coming out the following year. It”s just the beginning of what I hope will be a lot of wonderful movies.”

Either something is being completely misconstrued, something drastically changed, or he's being extremely cautious with his choice of words and denying an “all-male” film ever existed while keeping the door open for other versions. For his part, Pearce told Nerd Report he thought it was premature to frame the project as “all-male.” “That”s what”s kind of vaguely appalling, is the idea of going, ‘Have to have a male one.” It wasn”t like that at all,” he said. “It was much more organic just from conversation between me and the Russo brothers who are producing it and Channing and his people originally.”

While we wait for Sony to decide how they feel about the box office success of the new Ghostbusters, the new production company Ghost Corps is already expanding the universe with the animated Ghostbusters: Ecto Force expected in 2018. We don't know the exact characters yet but they've said it will “focus on a new generation of Ghostbusters in the year 2050 who capture ghosts around the world with help from local teams-and some very cool gear.”

I think there's room for more Ghostbusters but I hope Sony doesn't flood the market. We waited a long time for a new film and not even everyone wanted that. If you know me you know I'm glad we got the Ghostbusters we did. While blockbusters aren't usually the most important cinema of our time, Feig's Ghostbusters certainly is.