For the last 25 years, fans of the popular “Ghostbusters” franchise have awaited a third movie. When rumors and whispers of screenplays by Dan Aykroyd began surfacing a few years ago, the dreams of millions of fans were becoming a reality. The original director, Ivan Reitman, as well as many of the original cast members, including Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver, were slated to return. However, when Bill Murray decided to pass on the sequel, the movie began hitting bumps, which soon slowed it down to cancellation. Coupled with the death of Harold Ramis, who co-wrote and co-starred in the first two movies, fans’ hopes of a third “Ghostbusters” movie seemed little more than a pipe dream. But in the ashes of one project emerged a new, bolder phoenix that has people talking.
With endorsements from both Aykroyd and Murray, both stars of the original films, the cast list has been confirmed to include some of comedy’s favorite ladies: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. All of these women, with the exception of McCarthy, have been cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” The first question on everyone’s mind concerns how these characters will fit into the greater canon. Will these ladies attempt to fit the tropes of the original “Ghostbusters,” or will they be completely new characters with fresh personalities? The latter seems most likely, as the film has a different writer and director than the first two movies.
Despite her speculated involvement in the canceled “Ghostbusters” movie, it hasn’t been mentioned whether or not Weaver will make an appearance in the reboot. A shame, since Weaver wielding a proton pack would probably validate scores of fan fiction.
While many “Ghostbusters” purists might be taken aback by the bastardization of their favorite boy’s club, this new movie offers an exciting opportunity to take “Ghostbusters” to places it’s never gone before. That is to say, don’t think of it as a “girl’s ‘Ghostbusters,’” but rather one that looks to be accessible to demographics not yet targeted by the franchise.
Initial disappointment is understandable, as stalwart fans of the franchise have been expecting the return of their beloved and familiar original cast, but this reboot might serve as the resurrection of a franchise that’s long existed in phantom form. Besides, if the traditionalists want the third movie they were expecting they should just play the 2009 video game, in which the main cast serves as voice actors. The new “Ghostbusters” movie isn’t attempting to be “Ghostbusters 3,” but rather a new start. The mission isn’t to change the original narrative, but instead build a fresh new one in the “Ghostbusters” world.
The risk of turning a franchise on its head could result in a lot more than just a bad movie. Since its inception, the image of “Ghostbusters” has never been this challenged, and the success or failure of this movie could very well mean the life or death of this franchise. What’s required isn’t a simple cut-and-paste job with the original characters, changing the “he’s” to “she’s” and reimagining some of the jokes. This movie requires brand new characters, brand new tropes and hopefully a storyline that’s original and entertaining. This movie needs innovation, not iteration, and its ability to accomplish this will determine whether “Ghostbusters” lives to see another day or returns to the grave.