These days, major studios rarely green light a big budget film with the intention of having it be a standalone production. Franchises are the name of the game in the 21st century, and it's become pertinent to plan out a full slate of installments to stay ahead of the competition. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, and Star Wars galaxy are just some of the properties that have scheduled movies years in advance, giving fans plenty to look forward to.
While the "shared universe" model of annual releases has become extremely common and lucrative recently, it still has the potential to backfire. As we've seen with the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Terminator: Genisys, one mediocre entry can derail everything, causing the studio to rethink and start from square one. After all, patience can be a virtue, and some filmmakers are better served waiting to see what they have before marching forward on followups. It would appear the new Ghostbusters fits squarely in that category.
Screen Rant spoke with Ghostbusters director Paul Feig during the press junket, and we asked him about the possibility of sequels. The helmsman was certainly open to the idea of exploring the world further, but said it depends on the performance of this summer's reboot:
Oh, you know, when you’re working in a world this rich, you always go, “Oh, it would be cool if we could do this,” or “this could be fun, it could be fun if we could connect this up...” So yeah, our brains are always clicking and who knows what will happen. We’ve got to see how this one does first.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Feig is contemplating more paranormal investigations, but this is the right mentality to have. Though Ghostbusters producer Amy Pascal is convinced there could be an "endless" amount of sequels, it's unknown how the general public will respond to the film that has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was announced. Early box office tracking suggests an opening weekend in the $40 - 50 million range, which isn't a catastrophe, but is far from breaking records. This July also sees the premieres of high-profile works like Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne, so it will be interesting to see how much staying power Ghostbusters has. Sticking to the adage "don't count your chickens until they hatch" should be beneficial.
When we spoke with star Melissa McCarthy, she too wasn't ready to start looking ahead to part two. Asked if she knew where she wanted her character to go in a sequel, she preferred to keep things focused on the first one:
No, because I kind of feel like I’m in the delivery room right now, so I can’t talk about the second baby. But I know that I’d do anything Paul Feig – I don’t know that he really needs to ask, he gets to about, “Hey do you want to…” and I’m like, “Yep! Give me a date.” And with those three women, I would do kind of anything. But in terms of where to go, no, because there’s so many possibilities. I mean, I know what works is if there’s going to be conflict, it’s got be messy, and I think what you root for is that there’s always a struggle for them. So I would just look forward to being like, “What is the struggle?” Because you can’t suddenly be like, “They’ve got it made in the shade!” It wouldn’t make for a very interesting movie. So I don’t know.
It is somewhat refreshing to see a hopeful blockbuster not be weighed down with the baggage of launching multiple spinoffs and sequels. In a way, Ghostbusters is in the same boat as Jurassic World or Creed; if it does well enough to warrant a followup or two, that's great, but if not, everyone just licks their wounds and moves on. Sony would obviously be interested in making more, but they're not going to make the burgeoning franchise a cornerstone of their film slate just yet. Should Ghostbusters bomb, it will be disappointing for those involved, but the studio wouldn't have to reshuffle everything as a course-correction.
The first wave of Ghostbusters reviews leaned towards the positive side of the spectrum, and even though the general feeling is that it plays things a bit too safe, it's still entertaining enough to stand on its own merits. Naysayers may not be swayed by the word-of-mouth, but it could be the deciding factor in encouraging casual moviegoers to check it out. Should that happen, there might be something strange happening in your neighborhood for a while.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters July 15, 2016.