Welcome to Breaking Geek, where uber-geek Nick Doll offers strong opinions, fun commentary, informed reactions, and thought-out theories regarding the most interesting news of the week, using his expansive knowledge of all things geek!
Another Ghostbusters is on the way, but… why?
Yes, the original 1984 Ghostbusters is a fantastic classic that we all still love, but after the flop that was 2016’s Ghostbusters (more on that below), featuring an all-female team that angered easily-angered fanboys, why is Sony even considering another film, even if it is set within the original films’ Universe and not the rebooted world?
Earlier this week it was announced the director of the original Ghostbusters’ son, Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air, Juno), would be handling the directing duties and he even shared a teaser trailer that is very much akin to JJ Abrams’ teaser for Super 8; that is, the trailer was made before the film has shot a frame or has a full cast.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the financial trend of the franchise, looking at Ghostbusters stories across several mediums, to determine if there is a wide enough audience to make Ghostbusers 2020 a success.
What We Know So Far
Since the initial announcement, more details have come out about the project.
Ernie Hudson confirmed to Daily Mail that the three surviving Ghostbusters from the original film will return to make busting feel good again. Yes, Dan Aykroyd has been on board with this project since the beginning, so the real news here is that Bill Murray is in!
Of course, Harold Ramis passed away in 2014, so no Egon. But get ready for plenty of Venkman, Stantz, and Zeddemore… sort of.
Though it has not been confirmed at the time of this writing, sources and outlets have been sharing rumors that the film will actually focus on children ranging age 12 to 13 as the leads, in what sounds like a move to imitate the success of Stranger Things and IT.
We Got This Covered reports that their intel suggests the two central characters will be a young boy and girl. The boy will be 13 years-old and is passionate about fantasy and conspiracy theories. The girl will be 12 and an insanely smart kid, who has trouble forming relationships with others. The film would feature a family moving to a small town where they learn more about who they are and the secrets of the town itself.
Other sources say the leads will actually be two boys and two girls, but one thing is clear: this doesn’t sound like the “Ghostbusters 3” that many fans of the original were hoping for.
Before this latest information came to light, I was sure Geeks would at least flock to the film, based on the perfect atmosphere of the trailer and callbacks to the very first film. But these latest rumors sound like the new film may piss off MORE fans than Ghostbusters (2016).
I don’t think most fans would be on board if this information turns out to be true. But I’m not here to determine if you, our readers are going to see the film, because a new Ghostbusters film needs a wide audience to be successful.
Do Wide Audiences Crave A New Ghostbusters Story?
To answer this, let’s look at the numbers!
In 1984 Ghostbusters was made for $30 million and grossed nearly $300 million.
Ghostbusters II in 1989 cost $40 million with box office gross dropping to $215 million. Not a flop, but definitely a sign that the first film may have been lightning in a bottle, which I believe it was.
Ghostbusters (2016) cost $144 million before marketing, and only made $229 million which is far worse than Ghostbusters II, because the former cost more and $229 million in 2016 is peanuts compared to $215 in 1989.
I tried to take a look at both the sales of 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Ghostbusters (2016) for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. For the latter game, I learned FireForge Games, who made Ghostbusters (2016), filed for bankruptcy days after the game was released and ended up $12 million in debt. The former game was another story. Ghostbusters: The Video Game is largely considered to be the Ghostbusters III fans have been waiting for, and it ended up selling over a million copies. But at the end of the day, does one million copies point to a potential mainstream success? I’m not entirely convinced.
None of these are trends that point to the success of a new Ghostbusters film. The franchise has only trended downward the more it has been brought back from the dead. So, what is Sony thinking?
Will It Flop?
Well, maybe yes, maybe no. It really depends on how the filmmakers approach the film.
What Sony forgot when making Ghostbusters (2016) is that the original two films were never budgeted as giant blockbusters. They had a high price tag in the ‘80s for a comedy, but spending $150 million on Ghostbusters (2016) missed the point of the original film entirely.
I already mentioned this rumored plot and even the atmosphere of the trailer bring to mind Stranger Things or IT. Stranger Things was made on an early Netflix budget, as Netflix had no idea how huge it would be. IT was made for only $35 million. Seeing as how the film may not even be set in New York, and how great IT looked with a smaller budget, if Sony and Reitman are smart, they won’t spend more than $50 million on this latest chapter.
If Sony can keep themselves from spending too much, and the movie is actually handled well, it could definitely make a profit.
While I don’t have much faith in Sony, aside from the astounding Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse earning a bit of good-will, Venom is actually one of the cheaper superhero blockbusters with a price tag of $100 million, $50 million short of what Sony put into 2016’s Ghostbusters. So, maybe they have learned a thing or two about a thing or two.
And, yes, lots of Ghostbusters die-hards skipped the 2016 film because it didn’t feature the original cast. But, with these latest character descriptions, even with the inclusion of the three living Ghostbusters, this also doesn’t sound like something true fans want, though I could be wrong.
Ghostbusters 2020/Ghostbusters 3/what-ever-you-want-to-call-it needs to earn a lot of goodwill between now and 2020 to turn a profit, even with a budget of $100 million or less. Especially since foreign markets are more important than ever and China is the largest market outside of the US for Hollywood films. But, Ghostbusters (2016) never opened in China due to rules about not using ghosts or spirits. So, even with this next film, the rest of the world will have to pick up the slack.