Principal photography on Bridesmaids and Spy director Paul Feig's Ghostbusters film reboot is currently underway (at the time of writing this), with a main cast that includes Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. Sony has budgeted the supernatural action/comedy at a hefty $150 million; not just in order to cover the substantial visual effects costs that the project (and its story about ghost-catching heroes) requires, but also in the hope that it will help the project become a big enough commercial success to justify further expansion (horizontally and vertically) of the Ghostbusters brand on the big screen.
Speaking of "vertical brand expansion," reports have circulated for a while now that Sony already has a Ghostbusters spinoff in the works: a Channing Tatum-led action/comedy, scripted by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) and potentially costarring Chris Pratt as Tatum's ghost-busting buddy. Tatum recently clarified that the project is "nowhere near" to getting a green light, but now it sounds like the spinoff has either been put on indefinite hold or cancelled altogether.
Reid Carolin - Tatum's producing partner and screenwriter on both Magic Mike films - was interviewed by Screen Rant's own Kara Warner as part of the marketing push for the upcoming Tatum-headlined sequel, Magic Mike XXL (look for the full interview with Carolin soon on our homepage). The discussion briefly turned to the Ghostbusters spinoff, to which Carolin said "We're not doing that anymore"; when asked "Oh, you're not?" he then clarified:
No I don't think so, I think it's too complicated. There's a lot of things going on with that brand and I just feel like it's over-saturated.
This update from Carolin doesn't come as a huge shock, all things considered. In addition to Tatum's recent comments, Pratt had previously shot down rumors that he's locked for the Ghostbusters spinoff; the Russo Brothers (who were producing and being eyed as the film's potential directors) have closed an official deal for them to direct Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 & 2 after they finish making Captain America: Civil War; and both Pratt and Tatum are keeping quite busy right now as it is, with their other franchise commitments. The proposed Ghostbusters reboot spinoff seems impractical for the time being, just based on the potential scheduling conflicts alone.
A Ghostbusters movie 'Shared Universe' is an idea that has been touted by such folk as the series' longtime costar/writer (and champion) Dan Aykroyd, but many people online seem to share Carolin's concern that right now the Ghostbusters brand appears at risk of becoming "over-saturated." Not to mention, the way the Tatum-headlined spinoff was initially sold as being an "all-male" counter to Feig's Ghostbusters reboot (which features a main cast composed solely of women) was seen by many as a very cynical attempt to cater to fans who've made sexist complaints about Feig's movie.
Many Ghostbusters fans are no doubt hoping for multiple new (and, of course, good) live-action movie additions to the franchise, but for now it might be best for Sony to wait and see how Feig's reboot goes over with the filmgoing masses, before jumping ahead further with franchise-expanding plans. Feig and his collaborators have a strong track record in terms of critical and commercial success alike, so who knows - if that film performs well, then Sony may revisit the idea of a Channing Tatum Ghostbusters movie at a later date.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters on July 22nd, 2016.
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