The upcoming Paul Feig-helmed Ghostbusters movie franchise reboot is but the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to Sony Pictures' plans for the future of the 1980s-born supernatural horror/comedy property. Case in point: the studio is currently developing a Ghostbusters animated movie and has another live-action Ghostbusters film - one that could feature Channing Tatum as the leader of a (mixed gender) Ghost-Busting team - in the early stages of development, based on a story treatment that was penned by screenwriter Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation).
Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman - who co-wrote/starred in and directed Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II, in turn - are both overseeing the expansion of the Ghostbusters franchise, as producers on both Feig's 2016 reboot and the other miscellaneous Ghostbusters projects that are currently in the pipeline, through their Ghost Corps collective. It now appears the Ghostbusters animated film in particular has taken an important step towards beginning production.
THR is reporting that Fletcher Moules has signed on to direct the Ghostbusters animated movie for Sony. Moules, for those who are unfamiliar, is a newcomer to the world of feature-length film directing, though he has previously worked in the art departments on such big-budget features as The Matrix, Red Planet, and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (where he was part of the film's "creature shop"). More recently, Moules has directed several commercials for Supercell's mobile MMO strategy video game property, Clash of Clans. You can watch one of the Moules-helmed Clash of Clans commercials (and get a better taste of his animation directorial "style"), below:
The Ghostbusters franchise has been adapted for the animation medium before, first with the cartoon TV series The Real Ghostbusters (which aired from 1986-1991) and later with the sequel animated TV show Extreme Ghostbusters (which aired in late 1997). Ghostbusters' fantastical world of colorful ghosts and ghost-busters with larger than life personalities alike have always made the property a comfortable fit for the animation medium, so it stands to reason that a feature-length film done using modern animation techniques could be worthwhile, for that reason alone. One presumes the animated Ghostbusters movie will be aiming for a zany tone that's on par with Moules' Clash of Clans commercials, though it's too early to say for certain at this point - seeing as the project doesn't even appear to have screenwriters attached quite yet.
As for the prospect of a Ghostbusters cinematic universe: Sony did get ahead of itself with its plans for an Amazing Spider-Man cinematic universe back in 2014, so there is certainly a risk that the studio will repeat its previous mistakes - especially if Feig's live-action reboot fails to reinvigorate the franchise on the big screen. On the other hand, it's worth noting that Sony's own plans for the Ghostbusters property bear a resemblance to the studio's developing Spider-Man cinematic universe: a franchise that currently has a live-action film reboot (one that will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in development, along with an animated Spider-Man film and Venom spinoff. These various Spider-Man films are expected to be only loosely connected at best and might not maintain continuity with each other at all - something that may also hold true for the Ghostbusters films currently in development.
In other words: the Ghostbusters animated film may not live or die, depending on how Feig's reboot goes over with the moviegoing public (be it a big hit, a flop, or something in between). Similarly, if the 2016 Ghostbusters live-action movie reboot is a smash hit, that may or may not result in either a direct sequel and/or the developing live-action spinoff being prioritized over Moules' animated project at Sony. Time will tell if this cartoon Ghostbusters movie actually happens, basically.
Ghostbusters will open in U.S. theaters on July 15th, 2016. We'll keep you posted on the development of additional Ghostbusters projects, including the animated film.