And Will Set Women in Hollywood Back
by Jason Koenigsberg
The all female remake/reboot of Ghostbusters has been talked about for years, not much of it being positive, and is now most disliked trailer in Youtube history. Nobody asked for this movie, nobody really wants it, yet this summer we are all going to be getting a new Ghostbusters movie with an all female cast. The idea is ill conceived. What began as Sony’s way of a quick cash grab and possible franchise starter has turned into a gender bending, role reversal social commentary about cinema in the twenty-first century.
On the surface this should be a winning combination for the studio, filmmakers, actors and a big victory for women with four female leads taking over roles that were originally written for men. Making this even more of a satire, they cast Alpha Male Chris Hemsworth as their secretary, a role formerly inhabited by Annie Potts as Janine. The social commentary is there. The women are proven to be funny with the premier A-list women in comedy Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig, being joined by current Saturday Night Live stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Plus, the director Paul Feig, has a track record of successful feature comedies starring McCarthy and Wiig with Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013) and Spy (2015).
Everything is aligned for this film to be an even bigger hit than all of Paul Feig’s previous films, so why all the negative buzz and apprehension about this new Ghostbusters? For starters the original 1984 Ghostbusters has aged exceedingly well and is more revered today as a modern comedy classic than it was twenty or thirty years ago. They are remaking one of the most sacred and beloved movies of its time and one of the best New York movies of all time. This is an idea that would be doomed regardless of who was involved. Even if it were a remake with its original cast, it would probably fail or at least be met with dismal reactions similar to Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver are all older but certainly capable or reprising their roles (Harold Ramis sadly passed away and Rick Moranis is sticking to a private life since retiring from acting). If people complained Harrison Ford was too old to crack his whip and dawn his iconic fedora then Bill Murray and his team of supernatural exterminators would certainly look silly putting on the proton packs and chasing after ghosts. Plus, Bill Murray has practically re-invented himself this century taking on more thought provoking roles that rely on intellectual and dry humor like Lost in Translation (2003) rather than the conventional comedies he made throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and the last time Dan Aykroyd tried to recapture his previous glory days audiences avoided it in droves. Does anybody like or even remember Blues Brothers 2000 ? So they are relegated to cameos which is fine.
The reason this movie will have harsh ramifications if it flops is how it will set women in Hollywood back. In recent years the topic of women’s salaries has become a hot button issue especially if you listen to any of Hillary Clinton’s campaign speeches calling for equal pay. From Patricia Arquette’s politically charged acceptance speech after she won the Oscar, to public outrage when we learned Gillian Anderson was paid half of the salary David Duchovny received when they brought back the X-Files last year, to this week where Robin Wright publicly demanded the same salary as co-star Kevin Spacey on House of Cards, the gender gap in Hollywood has certainly become more noticeable. More and more people are calling for equal pay for women and they certainly deserve equal pay especially in some of the more glaring examples like the ones mentioned above.
But if this female centric Ghostbusters flops at the box office. The studio heads will have evidence that women do not sell as much as men do in ticket revenue. The Avengers, Captain America and Batman vs. Superman all have their detractors and even if they are not the hits that their studios may have hoped for, they were still profitable on the national and international level. Will Sony be able to say the same thing for Ghostbusters? We will soon find out. But I think no matter what, this movie is going to be met with negative reactions. Even if it is funny, it probably can never surpass the admiration and affection audiences hold with the original Ghostbusters. Even if it is a huge blockbuster and breaks box office records but the reviews are not positive, or the mainstream public hits the internet and rips it apart opening weekend, the damage could be more hurtful than when moviegoers and critics rip apart other male dominated movies.
In other words, a lot is riding on Sony’s reimagined Ghostbusters movie. Not just the future careers of its stars and director, but all actresses in Hollywood need to hope that it is better than the internet buzz is making it out to be. All women should hope that it is funny and a big hit. It cannot perform like Warner Bros. recent Batman vs Superman which made back its budget and then some, but not as much as analysts had predicted mostly due to negative reviews and disdain from average moviegoers. Sony cannot afford for their new Ghostbusters to be a double or even a triple. This movie has to be a home run and universally praised. That is asking a lot, especially for a movie where a huge portion of the public already has a negative perception of the film because they cherish the original to be a classic of the highest regard. Is it possible that this will receive acclaim across the board and dominate the summer box office for weeks? Of course. Is it realistic? Not so much. But women in the workplace will actually need this movie to help their cause and gain equal pay and respect in society. That is a lot riding on a movie. Not just the future of a franchise, but the salaries of girls still in school and not in the workplace could be effected if this movie bombs.
You might think this is an exaggeration and maybe it is. But there is no denying that movies are a powerful tool and have brought about social change in the past. This movie could have a strong social impact with its gender bending roles, but it has a very long uphill climb to be viewed as a success.
Here is the newest trailer for the new Ghostbusters coming to theaters July 15th, right in the middle of the summer movie season.