Director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy’s action/comedy Spy has earned lots of critical acclaim and (at the time of writing this) is doing solid business at the worldwide box office ($117 million on a $65 million budget in less than two weeks). The pair are not resting on their laurels, though, and are busy gearing up to start production on the Ghostbusters franchise reboot in order to make a Summer 2016 release date.
Ghostbusters (2016), like Ivan Reitman’s original 1984 action/supernatural horror/comedy, will take place in New York, though it’s being filmed partly in Boston in order to help keep the production budget from escalating above the estimated $150 million price tag. The project will reunite Feig and McCarthy with their Bridesmaids star/co-screenwriter Kristen Wiig, while the movie’s primary cast will be rounded out by Saturday Night Live cast members Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon – plus Thor himself (Chris Hemsworth), playing the poltergeist-catching team’s receptionist.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) June 17, 2015
The Boston Herald‘s sources have also unearthed the following story details for the film:
[Kristen] Wiig and [Melissa] McCarthy play a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. Flash forward a few years and Wiig lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia U. (Like the original, the story takes place in New York City, even though it’s being shot in Boston.) Which is pretty sweet, until her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia. Wiig reunites with McCarthy and the other two proton pack-packing phantom wranglers, and she gets some sweet revenge when ghosts invade Manhattan and she and her team have to save the world.
It sounds as though Wiig is playing ‘Erin Gabler’, as the character was named in a previous report on the Ghostbusters reboot; by that same logic, then, McCarthy should be playing Abby Bergman, a “pop parapsychologist” who’s been hunting ghosts on her own since she and Erin stopped working together (had a falling out?). The other two named characters are Jillian – Abby’s partner at the beginning of the movie – and Patty, an MTA employee who discovers the big bad ghost at the heart of the story, though the Boston Herald report doesn’t indicate which role is going to be handled by Jones and McKinnon, respectively.
Feig and co-screenwriter Katie Dippold (The Heat) have been continuously tweaking and fine-tuning the Ghostbusters reboot screenplay during the lead-up to production starting (according to the same Boston Herald article), which is actually quite similar to what happened on Reitman’s movie over thirty years ago. Nonetheless, the names of the characters should remain the same… assuming the earlier report was accurate, that is.
Meanwhile, Dan Aykroyd – who co-wrote and co-starred in the previous two Ghostbusters live-action films – has continued to be the franchise’s biggest cheerleader, having recently offered the following praise about the Ghostbusters reboot script (via CBR):
Yeah, it’s going to be hot! The new one’s going to be big! The interplay, and with each of them, their individual voices are so well defined. They’re just such different characters, and there’s a friction. There’s a dynamic there. I’m not going to spoil it for people, but it’s going to be big, big!
Aykroyd also teased that the reboot will reference the previous two Ghostbusters films “in a really neat, class way”; though, it’s worth noting that unlike the recent “soft reboot” Jurassic World, Feig’s movie is a hard reset of its respective franchise’s continuity. There are clearly going to be thematic elements carried over from Ghostbusters films past (the wise-cracking underdog heroes aspect of the story, for example), but otherwise the intention here is to craft a solid relaunch of the Ghostbusters brand – one that can stand on its own, without going overboard paying lip service to the property’s history.
Will that work? Well, at this point, Feig and his collaborators’ track record together (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) speaks for itself, re: their ability to craft a funny genre movie. If Ghostbusters clears that same bar reached by those laughfests (in terms of quality) while also scoring big at the box office, then we’ll have fair reason to start taking that Ghostbusters Shared Cinematic Universe talk more seriously.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters on July 22nd, 2016.