Jason Reitman Will Direct the First Ghostbusters 1984 Follow-up in 30 Years
No other series brings out the best and worst of fandom like Ghostbusters. Released in 1984 and directed by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis as a team of blue-collar exterminators of the supernatural. The fantasy/comedy mashup remains one of the 80s’ most beloved films and a pop culture staple.
Ghostbusters’ popularity spawned cartoon series, toy lines, and breakfast cereals, but only one true sequel, Ghostbusters II (1989). It took 30 years for Sony to produce the franchise’s next installment, and fans weren’t happy. In 2016 Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters entry, rebooted the brand with a female cast featuring Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon. The switch caused outrage among fans who took the changes personally. The Ghostbusters 2016 trailer became one of the most disliked videos in YouTube history. But things got worse, and fans took to social media to lash out at the cast, most notably Leslie Jones, the only POC Ghostbuster. Go figure.
This news is a big deal for a couple of reasons. Ghostbusters still has a massive hold on pop culture, and it’s crazy to think that Sony only went back to the well once in 30 years. The series’ rich mythology can support an entire universe of spin-offs, TV series, and even shared worlds. The studio is leaving money at the table by spinning their wheels in long development cycles. Sony giving the series another shot so soon after bungling the 2016 reboot speaks volumes about their commitment to gets this property off the ground.
EW reports that “Jason Reitman will direct and co-write an upcoming film set in the world that was saved decades previously by the proton pack-wearing working stiffs in the original 1984 movie, which was directed by his father, Ivan Reitman.” Sony currently has their sights set on a summer 2020 release.
Holy s#it. There is a lot to unpack here. First, you would be hard-pressed to think of someone better to pick up the series’ mantle. Reitman is an accomplished director with several critically acclaimed films under his belt (Up in the Air, Juno). He hasn’t worked on a picture of Ghostbusters’ scale before, but he has the movie imprinted in his DNA. As a child, he spent time with his father on the Ghostbusters set, and he will put everything he has into “maintaining the family business.” Yes, there are millions of loyal fans to please, but most importantly, the guy won’t let his pop down.
The big news here, though, is the new Ghostbusters is a proper follow-up to the 1980s’ series. The film jumps ahead 30-years and deals with busting ghosts in the present day. Details are spares right now about the original cast’s involvement. Non-proton pack-wearing cast members who fans want to catch up with include Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and my childhood crush, Annie Potts. Harold Ramis, who played the crew’s resident brainiac, Dr. Egon Spengler, died in 2014.
My philosophy is the more Ghostbusters, the better. As a lifelong fan, I fully supported the 2016 reboot. Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon are two of the funniest people on the planet, and their collaboration with a comedy guru like Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat) looked like a perfect match. Sadly enough, it didn’t work out.
Ghostbusters 2016 cost $144 million and only earned $128 million (domestically). Disappointing box office returns, tepid reviews, and “fan” controversies, in effect, “crossed streams,” ending the new series dead in its tracks.
So, what does this mean for Ghostbusters 2020? Right now, the series is in good hands – series OG Ivan Reitman is onboard as a producer. And since this entry takes fans back to the original Ghostbusters universe, there’s less chance of sparking controversy since diehards get more of the world they love.
But here’s the thing about nostalgia: we fall in love with the feelings we associate with that show, movie, or book. By the time we revisit these long-gone passions of ours, we’ve grown up and moved on in our lives. Since the Ghostbusters franchise has laid dormant for so long, it faces more rigid expectations than a property like Batman, a persona that re-invents itself in pop culture every several years. This new picture has the tough job of living up to a 30-year-old classic while showing us why it’s relevant in 2020. Ghostbusters may not be afraid of no ghosts, but they should beware the hype. It’s deadly.
Sony Pictures has dated the film for Summer 2020.