Ghostbusters: A Post Mortem

Ghostbusters (2016)
Ghostbusters (2016)

With sky-high expectations and an even higher budget, the rebooted Ghostbusters never stood a ghost of a chance.

Anyone that ventured out to see Sony’s summer reboot of Ghostbusters can tell you that there’s one thing the movie wasn’t lacking: ghosts.

Ghosts of all shapes, colors and sizes shared the screen in a spectacular fashion, glowing neon green and blue as they vomited ectoplasm all over the streets of New York. Even within the first few moments of the film, it was obvious that there was no expense spared when it came to the CGI.

One year ago, the fan base, the crew and the cast were celebrating this no-holds-barred budget. According to an article from CinemaBlend last year, Paul Feig even had to make changes to the script in order to reduce the budget to the workable $154 million, which was brought down from the $169 million budget he’d brought to Sony initially.

The film was set up and catapulted into the box office, holding all of Sony’s summer eggs in its basket. It was supposed to be the big hit of the season, reigning in millions of dollars domestically, without a care in the world about making back what was spent, much less breaking even.

And then the movie premiered and made just $46 million in its opening weekend. A dark, ominous cloud started to roll in over Sony’s head as the numbers came in, and the money men began to get undoubtedly concerned. Domestically, the movie has made (as of 8/14) $121.6 million, which would put it in the category movie folks call a flop.

But the question that remains is: Did the movie fail in the box office because it was a bad movie? Did the internet trolls and Men’s Rights Activists who boycotted the gender-swapped reboot cause audiences to stay away?

Not quite. First off, the movie wasn’t bad–at least not in every respect. Critically, it was rated well, earning a solid 74-percent Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. And as for the whining, keyboard-warrior, haters well, if anything, they brought more attention to the film and likely caused more people to go out and buy tickets to see what all the fuss was about.

Ghostbusters is a film that was, sadly, dead on arrival.

When you take a movie like Ghostbusters, which is already packed full of ambition and risk (it doesn’t get much riskier than reviving a cult classic from the ‘80s), and then slap on a $144 million budget on it, while also labeling it as your-summer-hit, things tend to get slightly “high-risk.”  For comparison, the original Ghostbusters only cost $30 million to make in 1984 — ($69 million in 2016 dollars.

The budget-shredding CGI animation is present in the film from start to finish. Couple that with the larger than life sets that you’d expect from a Ghostbusters film and you start talking about coughing up some serious dough. Also, Melissa McCarthy’s salary was $15 million. Just saying.

Before this movie was even shipped out to the theater, it was drowning. Paul Feig and Sony thought extremely highly of themselves, which isn’t unwarranted, considering Paul Feig’s other projects with McCarthy, i.e. Bridesmaids and The Heat all brought in a ton of cash, however both projects were made for under $50 million. What they didn’t take into consideration was that relying so heavily on the special effects not only detracts from your comedy (which is historically Feig’s strength in the box office), but it starts to add up hefty deficits on your budget.

There was too much frill, too much of the fantastic, and too much weight attached to this big movie that just couldn’t. They wanted so badly for the audience to know how 2016 would reshape the look and feel of Ghostbusters that everything else in the film was caught in the crossfire.

It was good, but it wasn’t good enough to bring in enough to balance out the cost of animation. It was funny, but it wasn’t funny enough to make up for the millions of dollars spent on titanic set designs and props. Variety estimated that after factoring in marketing, Ghostbusters needed to make $300 million just to break even — an insane amount for the first entry in a new franchise.

But let it be known that this movie, despite being a bit too big for its britches, was entertaining and full of smart-girl-power. It may not have been a wave that Sony rode to all the bank, but it’s not like they’re really hurting for cash.

At the end of the day, the film set out to do what, hopefully, it meant to do in the first place. And when little girls are jumping up and down in their seats because women that look like them and talk like them are taking down fifty-feet-tall ghosts and saving the world, it’s safe to say that it was a job done well.

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