Ghostbusters II came out in the summer of 1989. I was 2-years-old, but remember seeing it in a hotel room during a family trip at some point around then. I distinctly remember the pink slime in the sewers, and the guys riding on the Statue of Liberty. I watched the original Ghostbusters religiously before and after that time (on a taped VHS no less), but did not see that movie again for many years after that. From what I can tell and surmise, it continues to not hold up very well at all. Yet I clamoured for more adventures from Venkman, Egon, Spengler and Winston beyond the Saturday morning cartoons, but the years and rumours came and went, and Ghostbusters III never arrived.
In 2009, the flawed but really enjoyable Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released with the majority of the original cast intact, along with a story taking place very shortly after the second film. It was not the sequel we all had been hoping for, but it was as close as we ever got.
I say this all because what I really want to see, and what I will bet just about every film fan alive in the 1980’s and early 1990’s wants to see, is Ghostbusters III. But with Harold Ramis passing away, and the remaining cast not getting any younger, this pipe dream seems like a virtual impossibility.
But fear not – because Sony confirmed yesterday that on top of Paul Feig’s female-lead spiritual sequel/reboot/reinvention/whatever coming next July, they also have a Channing Tatum-lead follow-up planned, another follow-up involving an Avengers-style team-up between both of the new Ghostbuster teams, and some form of a prequel. Whether this is a full-fledged remake of the first film or not remains to be seen. So more or less, Sony is creating another enchanted cinematic universe.
Sony’s idea with Spider-Man did not work either time they tried, and after that email debacle mentioning the ludicrous idea of mashing up Men in Black and 21 Jump Street, it appears they went back to the well in search of another potential franchise they could squeeze the life out of. And Ghostbusters is what they found. But it all stinks of corporate greed to me. Well, that and making it blatantly obvious they are running out of either ideas, money, or both, and need some sort of hit badly. Whether they alienate a generation of fans or the general public seems to be immaterial as long as they get back their bottom line investment and then some.
Why do we need an on-going Ghostbusters franchise you ask? Probably the same reason Warner Brothers forced through a DC Universe spanning multiple films planned until 2020, despite 2/3 of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films making more money domestically than all but one of Marvel’s and more money internationally than all but two of Marvel’s films. And this is with one hero, no team ups, and without the benefit of 3D. And Man of Steel did not do all that shabby either.
But then, we also have some form of a Universal Monsters cinematic universe planned out in the future (despite the masses not being too keen on the first entry in the saga, Dracula Untold), a potential X-Men/Fantastic Four shared universe, an extended Star Wars universe, and if the rumours are true, even a Robin Hood-centric universe. All of these are planned to start, or to at least continue, well into the next five years. Possible cast and crew deaths be damned.
And we all have Marvel to blame for this, and Disney by proxy. They were not the first to do it, but they helped really cultivate and pioneer the idea of multiple films and multiple characters all following one timeline and one ultimate end-game. If The Avengers had not hit nearly as hard as it did, we would not see any of this extended universe nonsense, nor would we see a new comic book movie every other month. I commend them for continuing to pull this off, but they are an outlier that will eventually come crashing down hard. Their success is not something everyone and their mother needed to emulate in order to pull a profit.
This may all seem like a rant, but it is really a cry for help. I love going to the movies, but where does all this madness end? Who needs to fail in order for the execs to finally wake up and realize how ridiculous this all sounds? Beyond Star Wars Episodes VII-IX, do they really expect a huge crowd to show up to the dozen or so spin-offs they have planned? Are the elementary school kids really going to care about Ms. Marvel at the end of the decade? Does anyone in their right mind think Jason Mamoa can turn around the public’s perception of Aquaman sucking?
These announcements all sound interesting, fun or even wildly exciting, but everyone is going to get sick of it all quicker than the studios are going to turn them out. Just look at last year’s crop of films – – they did well internationally, but in their homegrown domestic box office, each did more disappointing than the next. Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 both made less money than all of their predecessors, and that is even with the benefit of higher ticket prices and 3D upcharges. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 made almost $100-million less than both of its predecessors, and all it was missing was IMAX upcharges.
I think the execs should start really tuning into what the public is asking for, or what they really want. The highest grossing movie of the year, American Sniper, was an R-rated war drama based on a book about a true story. And spoiler alert – the lead character is murdered at the end of the movie, so there is no real chance at a true sequel or extended franchise based around it. It sickens me to say it, but that is truly refreshing and almost revolutionary in this franchise and cinematic universe-centric film world.
If this is not all telling the executives something, I do not think much else will. They say you have to fail in order to succeed, and I look forward to seeing just how hard some of these upcoming films, franchises and ideas are going to fail. Filmgoers are not stupid. They are going to see through the nonsense, and will stop going to see the movies altogether. They already started as the box office stats continue to tell us. Perhaps it’s time to finally stand up and take notice?
Or maybe it’s time to realize that someone realizes if you cannot make Ghostbusters III, it’s time to come up with a new idea entirely.