That would seem to kill any prospects of the 25-years-in-gestation Ghostbusters 3 from ever seeing the light of day; however, we are talking about studio film production in the 21st century, and there is nothing the creativity-averse studio heads crave more than a big franchise. The idea is that the franchises are easy to sell to the public since the brand is already familiar. Who cares if the concept is way past its expiration date or nobody seems interested anymore, the big studios are terrified of trying to sell something original. Nobody anywhere was clamoring for a third Men in Black movie, but Sony steamed ahead with it anyway, because it was a familiar intellectual property.
By that reasoning, it makes sense that Sony would be steaming ahead with a new Ghostbusters. The problem seems to be that at this juncture, nobody apart from Dan Aykroyd seems all that interested in getting involved. Murray’s not interested. Reitman’s not interested. It seems like practically everybody they’ve tried to involve in reviving the property has passed on it. Seth Rogan and Even Goldberg passed on it. (Maybe it’s just me, but their comedy, This Is the End, really reminded me of a filthier version of Ghostbusters.) Phil Lord and Chris Miller passed on it, and they’ve made their careers making good movies out of genuinely awful ideas. (The Lego Movie is, at its core, the crassest possible toy commercial one could imagine, and yet they were able to make something truly brilliant out of it.) It almost seems like the legacy of the first film looms so large that it’s scaring people off.
Word came out Saturday night that Sony is now reaching out to Bridesmaids director Paul Feig to take over the franchise. For me, this is really the first time any of this has gotten interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, Feig knows comedy. His two most recent features as director were both big hits, the aforementioned Bridesmaids and last summer’s The Heat. Before breaking out in film, Feig directed episodes of highly regarded TV series like Arrested Development, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Mad Men, Weeds, and Nurse Jackie. As a writer and series creator, Feig developed the short-lived, but brilliant, series Freaks and Geeks. He also served as executive producer on the US version of The Office during the show’s really strong Steve Carrell-led years. To sum up, as a writer, producer, and director, Feig has his bona fides.
But, here’s the other thing. This reboot of the Ghostbusters concept is rumored now to be led by a female cast after years of speculation of whether or not Murray and the boys (or a new set of guys, as it’s been a revolving door of possible successors) would be back. That has me really intrigued.
I immediately thought of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler getting involved. Both have worked with Feig in the past, and they’ve killed hosting the Golden Globes the last two years. They are beloved. Bridesmaids was led by Kristen Wiig, who also wrote the film’s Oscar-nominated screenplay. Maya Rudolph just came off a hugely successful variety show for NBC. Melissa McCarthy is coming of the abysmal movie Tammy, but she’s still a force of nature if utilized properly, and Feig directed her to an Oscar nomination in Bridesmaids. Amy Shumer’s movie, Trainwreck, comes out next year, directed by frequent Feig collaborator Judd Apatow. Both Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham have followed in Tina Fey’s footsteps by starring in TV comedies they also created. (Both have ties to the Feig/Apatow factory, as well.) And, don’t forget the likes of Kristen Schaal, Ellie Kemper, Anna Ferris, Rashida Jones, Leslie Mann (Mrs. Apatow), Emma Stone, Cheryl Hines, Sarah Silverman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kristen Bell, Rose Byrne, and the list goes on.
The bottom line is there’s a remarkably deep bench of first-rate female comics out there, most of whom also have strong credits as writers. I’ve never been all that fired up about another Ghostbusters, largely because the second one is so awful. But, this idea of bringing a female point of view to the proceedings has piqued my interest, and it really could freshen things up.