A Comprehensive 'Ghostbusters' Blowout

– by LRM

Right now, Dan Aykroyd must be sitting back in a leather recliner, sipping his Crystal Head Vodka and saying, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Yesterday, movie fans were thrown for a big loop when the news broke that Sony was creating an expanded, shared Ghostbusters Universe that would now include an alternate team. Many had put their thoughts of the series on ice following last year's announcement about the female-centric Ghostbuster flick that Paul Feig is working on. Suddenly, we're facing this new idea of building Ghostbusters into a Marvel-style juggernaut. 

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But the funny thing is: The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Over the years, the media coverage of Aykroyd's Quest For Ghostbusters III has treated the story like, "Aw, Crazy Uncle Dan really thinks he can get that old Chevy in his backyard to run again. Ain't that cute? Let it go, Uncle Dan!" Meanwhile, Uncle Dan would sometimes state that he's not just going to make that thing run, but he thinks he can make it fly. His lofty ambitions for the series, again, were treated by my peers like they were incredibly far-fetched. Still, he soldiered on. 

Finally, his 20+ year quest came to an an end last year with the Feig news. He finally got his new Ghostbusters movie! Well, maybe not his, since it won't include the original cast and it's going to be treated as a reboot which will star Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. But hey, they put a new engine in his Chevy and now he can at least sit in the thing and listen to it purr once in a while, right? Wrong. Even after this, rumblings of a more "traditional" sequel persisted

There's also last December, during the infamous #SonyHack scandal, when we all found out through leaked e-mails that Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt were pushing hard for a Ghostbusters film at Sony that would be produced by Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). People didn't know quite what to do with that story, and the prevailing thought was that it must have gone nowhere.

Then, last week, the Russos announced that they'd signed a first-look deal with Sony. Some wondered if this was somehow related to Marvel and Sony now working together, using the Spider-Man franchise as a bridge. The old whispers of a Russo-produced Ghostbusters movie didn't even come up when this news came out. 

If you really look back at all of these isolated moments, you see the trail of breadcrumbs that led us to yesterday's blockbuster announcement.

Our friend, Devin Faraci over at Bad Ass Digest, did some extra digging and uncovered that this all- indeed- is nowhere near as random as it initially sounds. The problem is that Sony has just botched the delivery up until now. Their focus as been on the Feig all-female reboot, without mentioning that there was more at play here.

"We want to expand the Ghostbusters universe in ways that will include different films, TV shows, merchandise, all things that are part of modern filmed entertainment," said producer Ivan Reitman. He even stated that this was the plan all along. "My primary focus will be to build the Ghostbusters into the universe it always promised it might become. The original film is beloved, as is the cast, and we hope to create films we will continue to love," he declared.

Aykroyd and Reitman

Aykroyd and Reitman

To that end, Sony has created GhostCorps- a production team that will oversee the massive expansion of the Ghostbusters IP. "This is a branded entertainment, a scary supernatural premise mixed with comedy. Paul Feig’s film will be the first version of that, shooting in June to come out in July 2016. He’s got four of the funniest women in the world, and there will be other surprises to come," Reitman teased. "The second film has a wonderful idea that builds on that. Drew [Pearce] (Iron Man 3) will start writing and the hope is to be ready for the Russo Brothers’ next window next summer to shoot, with the movie coming out the following year. It’s just the beginning of what I hope will be a lot of wonderful movies."

If you're still thinking that this Tatum-Pratt stuff is some sort of thrown-together "solution" for the backlash that the all-female cast received, think again. Faraci says that the duo, who are good friends in real life, have been aggressively pursuing this film themselves and this has all been on the table from the outset of Sony getting into the Ghostbusters business. He takes it a step further, that this was all some sort of master plan than Sony just failed to publicize, when he outlines GhostCorps's plans:

"The plan is to have this new Ghostbusters universe feel big and have the kind of tonal variety that allows there to be a legitimate shared universe, not just a whole bunch of franchises running in tandem. What's more, the hope is that after Feig's Ghostbusters is out and after Tatum's Ghostsbusters is out the next film will see the two teams co-mingling, Avengers-style. This is planned out, and has been getting planned out for some time - it's not a sudden change of heart at Sony. The idea is that this shared universe will allow Feig to do his thing, Reitman and the Russos and Drew Pearce to do their thing, and for them  to cross over when they must. I was kind of confused by the ending of the Feig/Katie Dippold script, but knowing that there's a planned universe growing out of that ending everything makes a lot more sense now."

[Courtesy of Bad Ass Digest]

Tatum and Pratt

Tatum and Pratt

There's a fourth movie in the mix here, as well. Apparently, there's a prequel set in an unknown period, that takes place before either of the aforementioned flicks. But before you go and say, "How much can possibly be mined from just catching ghosts?," the word is that the title Ghostbusters is going to become broader. It won't just be ghost-related movies. That name will represent the banner under which several "supernatural FX comedies" will be produced.

So, to summarize, Sony and GhostCorps are planning four films:

  1. Feig's Ghostbusters
  2. The Russo's Untitled Companion
  3. The Prequel
  4. A Team-Up

The one sad bit in all this, if you're a traditionalist, is that none of these films will seemingly include any of the original cast/characters. That's the one part I really don't get. Why act like the 80s films didn't happen? Why not have Akyroyd act as the Obi-Wan for one of the new teams? Just seems like a wasted opportunity to build off of the originals while focusing solely on new, new, new. But hey, it's clear there's some sort of plan here that we're only just starting to hear about, so who knows? There could be more surprises on the way.

Personally, I'm still skeptical that all of this can come together quite as ideally as the powers that be hope it will. These movies will have to be really good, and all these plans are just going to put more pressure, and more eyes, on Feig to deliver with his film. We all remember what happened last time Sony announced an expanded universe. It was for Spider-Man, it was supposed to begin with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and then that film actually came out and POOF went the plan.

We shall see. 

In the meantime, kudos to Aykroyd. He never lost faith. He never gave up and, for now at least, he's having the last laugh.

Announcement, Rumors, TV, Film Sony, GhostCorps, Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman, Drew Pearce, Ghostbusters, Spinoff, Prequel, Sequel, Channing Tatum, Chris Pratt, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Cinematic Universe, Expanded Universe