The Ghostbusters live-action movie franchise is getting rebooted in 2016, with a new installment written by Katie Dippold and directed by Paul Feig (collaborators on The Heat) and headlined by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. Meanwhile, Sony is already planning to use the reboot as the foundation for a Ghostbusters shared universe - something that is sort of news to Feig... but sort of not, at the same time.
Feig and McCarthy's next film, the spy action/comedy titled... uh, Spy, is premiering at the SXSW festival this weekend; allowing the press a chance to pick Feig's brain about Ghostbusters, just a few days after the fresh update on a spinoff slated to be directed by the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). (Of course, news of said "male-driven" spinoff - potentially starring real-life buds Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt - actually leaked last year.)
Much of the online fan conversation surrounding the Ghostbusters reboot has focused on its four leads being women - a creative choice that Feig has defended from being dismissed as just a "gimmick" in the past (as he put it, "Why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men is just a normal movie?"). Feig, when interviewed by Variety, noted that he's also certainly heard back from fans in support of the project, but admitted that the negative reactions tend to grab more attention.
“The Internet is really funny – I love it, but I hate it at the same time. The first wave when you make an announcement like that is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone’s so happy and you’re like, This is great. Then comes the second wave and you’re like, Oh my God. Some of the most vile, misogynistic sh** I’ve ever seen in my life. The biggest thing I’ve heard for the last four months is, ‘Thanks for ruining my childhood.’ It’s going to be on my tombstone when I die. It’s so dramatic. Honestly, the only way I could ruin your childhood is if I got into a time machine and went back and made you an orphan.”
A traditional Ghostbusters sequel is something that Dan Aykroyd in particular had attempted to get off the ground for many years (without being successful), before Feig became involved with the franchise. Original Ghostbusters costar Bill Murray's lack of interest in making a Ghostbusters 3 was an obstacle for a long time, but by the time Feig was approached - presumably after Harold Ramis has passed away - he said he "[couldn't] get my head around" how to make a traditional Ghostbusters sequel work, by that point. Hence, he and Dippold are going the "hard reboot" route, instead.
The Russos' spinoff, which has Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) on screenwriting duties, is something that Feig said he'd heard "rumblings" of before this week, joking to Variety "Who knew there were so many ghosts to be busted in the world?" He then added, on a more serious note, he very much admires the action/comedy work done recently by both Tatum (see: the Jump Street movies) and the Russos (who also used to work on Community), but for now he's concerned first and foremost with getting his own Ghostbusters film right:
“All I know is my ladies are going to kick ass and I would not want to go into battle with them.”
It appears the plan is for the characters from the Russos' spinoff (which may not be "all-male," as originally reported) and Feig's reboot to join forces - that is, crossover in a future adventure where they go ghost-busting together. We'll have to wait and see if that happens though; who knows, if next year's Ghostbusters installments turns out well, the demand for simply a straight-forward sequel (featuring the same main cast) may far eclipse interest in seeing a spinoff, prequel, or whatever else might be in early development right now.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters on July 22nd, 2016.