Will the Internet slime stick to ‘Ghostbusters’? – USA TODAY
Thirty years after the original ‘Ghostbusters’ became an instant classic, it’s back with an all-female crew ready to fight the supernatural in a fresh new way.
On Friday,Â four jumpsuit-wearing paranormal fighters strap on their proton packs to duel with deadly screen spirits as the long-awaited Ghostbusters reboot finally hits theaters.
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and director Paul Feig will certainly be battle-tested:Â They’veÂ been fighting an even more insidious threat than any slime-spewing specter.
Vocal Internet haters have made their displeasure clear about the remake of the beloved 1984 original Ghostbusters,Â starringÂ Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
After forgiving the criticallyÂ drubbed Ghostbusters II in 1989, the discontentÂ are upset thatÂ Feig is bringing a new version to the screen 30 years later. And a noticeable factionÂ is put off thatÂ the new castÂ will consist of four female Ghostbusters.
Sure, there are entireÂ legions who have made it clear they’reÂ thrilled to see the Ecto-1Â mobile roll again. But the Internet outcry, from however an apparent minority, hasÂ dominated the GhostbustersÂ swirl long before anyone had seen a scrap of footage.
âI havenât seen this level of hatred by an extremely vocal group before a movie came out or before anyone even saw it. Itâs unprecedented,â says Alicia Malone, correspondent for the movie ticketing website Fandango. âThere are some who donât want their beloved Ghostbusters to be remade. But much of this hatred weâve been seeing is towardÂ an all-female cast. And itâs been really intense.â
It all leads to the multimillion-dollar question: CanÂ Ghostbusters and its ardent supporters overcome the haters and turn the comedy into a franchise hit for Sony (which has spent an estimated $154 million on the production)?
âYou can understand my frustration,â says Feig, speaking from a tour in Europe where he saysÂ audiences are loving the pre-release film screenings. âIâm trying to make a comedy movie that will make people happy and have fun. And itâs turned into the biggest political screed and mess because of a few people who are screaming loudly on the Internet. Itâs all very frustrating.
“I just want the most amount of people to come and have fun for this movie that was engineered strictly for people to have fun. IÂ would love to prove this small group of haters wrong. It would be really nice.”
Feig says he felt the Internet burn Oct. 8, 2014, when he tweeted that he was directing a new Ghostbusters and “yes, it will star hilarious women. That’s who I’m gonna call.” There were tweets of jubilation back. And there was apparent online anger.
“That was months before I announced who the cast was,” Feig says. “And there was an enormous wave of just anti-woman sentiment that came at that. But at the same time, there was a wave of people who are just not happy with the fact that we were going to remake the classic film.”
ThatÂ continued long beforeÂ and after the casting announcement of McCarthy and Wiig, two alums of 2011’s Feig-directed comedy smash Bridesmaids, along with Saturday Night Live standouts McKinnon and Jones. In September 2015, a vacationing Feig “hit the wall with the haters” on Twitter,Â writing to one, “You’ve been ranting at me and my cast for months with misogyny and insults” and “GB is a positive force. Your negativity isn’t.”
This noise reached a crescendo with the first actual look at GhostbustersÂ when the trailer was released March 3. Scores of rowdy superfans had seenÂ the trailer at Sony’s Los Angeles lot the day before and applauded madly, demanding Feig show the trailer again.
But instant online reviewsÂ â aÂ weighty matterÂ in the Internet era âÂ were mixed.Â “My movies never trailer well.Â It’s a fact of life,” Feig says.
The trailer was furtherÂ criticized for castingÂ Jones, an African-American, asÂ aÂ New York subwayÂ workerÂ and onlyÂ non-scientist among the femaleÂ actresses.
Feig says he had originallyÂ imagined McCarthy for the subway role before casting Jones. “When that came up, I felt terrible that people were taking that away from it. I didn’t even think of it because I’m sort of comedy-blind,” he says. “When I was putting it together, it was like, who is going to be funny for the role?”
The boo birds came out in force, filling the YouTube trailerÂ with thumbs-down votes (now at a staggering 919,000Â compared with 263,000Â thumbs-up). Feig points to the original haters for these scores.
“ThisÂ was an organized campaign, definitely organized, to drive up our dislikes, people who were angry with this movie,” Feig says. “Itâs like … Can everyone just wait until the movie comes out?Â I have the haters writing me telling me how bad my movie (stinks). Itâs like:Â ‘I donât believe youâve seen the movie. The trailer is not a movie.’ “
Ghostbusters received a calvary of support when Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson and Â Annie Potts âÂ the salty originalÂ Ghostbusters receptionistÂ âÂ turned up en masse last monthÂ with the new cast for a Jimmy Kimmel Live! episode devoted entirely to the new film. While all four originals (Ramis died in 2014)Â have cameos, Murray acknowledgedÂ that heÂ tooÂ wondered “Oh, God, are they going to pull this thing off?” when he saw the movie the night before.
“ThisÂ a tough movie … withÂ a lot of expectation,” Murray said.
But Murray, the patron saint of Ghostbusters,Â gave his vital blessing, saying, “We were screaming, cheering like we were at a sporting event at the end of it.” There was thunderous applause in the Kimmel audience.
Aykroyd, an executive producer, is bullish about the final box-office prospects, saying the Internet backlash from the movie “is by men don’t understand that we have three women on the Supreme Court.Â They don’t get it. They don’t understand that women can be GhostbustersÂ too.
“IfÂ they are hardcore misogynists and against the women’s participation, they’ll stay home.Â It won’t affect us,” he adds. “There are going to be joyous families walking out and coming back again.”
Initial studio tracking released byÂ The Hollywood Reporter suggestsÂ a less-than-enthusiastic debut of $40 million to $50 million for the opening weekend. It’s better than openings forÂ Feig/McCarthy hitsÂ such as Bridesmaids ($26 million) and 2015’s Spy ($29 million).Â ButÂ Scott Mendelson,Â box analyst for Forbes.com, says the stakes and budget are simply higher for Ghostbusters.
Mendelson believes the film can build up from the initial numbers, have a strong opening and “decent legs,” despite coming up against Star Trek Beyond the next weekend.Â Part of the appeal will be people interested in seeing a movie fronted by women: “There are not many games in town for that,” he says.
The controversy itself will further compel fans to support the movie over the haters.
“Every time someone online complains about Ghostbusters, complaints at least partially rooted in cultural misogyny, it becomes more of an event for female and male moviegoers who want to see more movies like this and want to support this movie,” Mendelson says.
Malone is one fan who saysÂ she’ll be standing in line opening night to show her loyalty.
“I really hope people will rise up and support this movie just as much to shout out the hatred,” she says. “I think that could happen. I really hope it does it well,Â far more than I would hope for any other average remake. SuccessÂ would beÂ like ‘Take that, haters.’ “