Ghostbusters: A Post Mortem

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.

How Angry Male Nerds Are Ruining the Internet

There are three Ghostbusters: the original, the remake, and the “childhood ruining” version that only exists in the minds of misogynistic internet trolls. The second it was announced, a small but vocal contingent of so-called “real fans” has been rooting for the new Ghostbusters to fail, and doing their best to make sure that happens.

For a while, the cloud of testosterone-fueled hatred was amorphous and vague. It had nothing to give it form or measure its power. Then the first trailer came out.

The admittedly mediocre first trailer for Ghostbusters (2016) became the most “downvoted” video in YouTube history, approaching one million dislikes. Contrast that with the 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four, which deviated horribly from the classic source material, bombed with critics and audiences alike and is widely regarded by even its own director to be a colossal failure. It  has around 20,ooo dislikes.

Two percent of the hate heaped on Ghostbusters.

Walt Hickey, over at statistics site FiveThirtyEight has been tracking the Ghostbusters hate. There are angry people (mainly men) who will angrily tell you all of the reasons that the female-led reboot is awful — sight unseen — while angrily denying that gender has anything to do with it.

But it’s really hard to argue against math. Hickey analysed the demographics of both viewers and “raters” of the movie on the IMDB. His findings?

* This number is actually growing as more reviews from people who actually saw the movie have poured in.

So men are rating the movie very negatively, and nearly five times as many men have rated the film as women. Assuming the film brought in equal number of men and women to theaters — or more likely more women than men — this means that the review sample is way off.

The movie is not succeeding or failing on its own merits. Like the  trailer before it, it appears that a group of men who never actually saw the movie have decided to downvote it into oblivion.

This is not an new phenomenon. It actually builds on Hickey’s earlier IMDB analysis that showed:

Men Are Sabotaging The Online Reviews Of TV Shows Aimed At Women

Once again using IMDB because it actually breaks down reviews by the reviewer’s gender, Hickey analysed shows with more than 10,000 reviews listed. He found that the more popular with women a show was, the more men showed up to trash it with a “one” — the lowest rating possible. The reverse was not true.

FiveThirtyEight Chart


So what is happening? We are experiencing a demographic shift in media that follows trends in the United States as a whole. Although we have a long way to go, comics, television, movies and video games have ceased to exclusively cater to the white male demographic. Not every story is designed specifically for their tastes. Not every story is told from their point of view. Just most of them.

We are asking men (and white men in particular) to do what everyone else in society has done for a long time. Follow a story on the screen that is not about someone like you. Put yourself in another person’s shoes.  For a very few, this intrusion of diversity into domains they previously held as their own infuriates.

To paraphrase a quote I can no longer source, “They have confused the loss of absolute privilege with genuine oppression.”

Nothing bad is happening here. We are just entering a world where not every single film, comic or video game is created to pander to the interests of socially awkward white men. That’s actually a better world. They just need to put on their big-boy pants and deal with it the way everyone else has for decades.

To be fair to them, I imagine it must hurt a lot more to have your “childhood ruined” when you never grew up in the first place.

The Fans That “Respect the Original Ghostbusters So Much” Just Turned on Ghostbusters Creator Dan Aykroyd

Unlike the vast majority of people offering opinions on the film, original Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd has actually seen the new Ghostbusters, and he thinks it’s great.

His full statement from WhoSay:

As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!

This is the man who actually conceived of the entire concept of the Ghostbusters and wrote the first draft of the original script. A man who played Ray Stantz, “the heart of the Ghostbusters” in the 1984 classic. So the fans who love that movie so much that they want to destroy the remake sight unseen, processed this new information from their childhood hero and adjusted their opinions.

Just kidding, they acted like the woman-hating man-babies that they are and immediately began attacking Aykroyd and redoubled their hatred of the film.

Things started off on a respectful note.

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This gentleman was concerned about the new movie’s role in the government conspiracy to “destroy white men.” That seems rational.

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For those not concerned about the government plot to make caucasian males feel bad about themselves, the studio plot to pay people to say nice things about the movie was a common concern. (Although, a quick peek at his profile shows that he is also concerned about the plot against men.)

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The good thing was that the commenters were able to keep things in perspective when talking about a slapstick comedy from 30 years ago.

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When all else failed, they questioned Aykroyd’s sanity and implied that he was washed up.

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So we finally settled the real question: The self-proclaimed defenders of the original Ghostbusters hate women far more than they respect the original. I guess there really wasn’t much doubt about that.

The new Ghostbusters opens on July 15, 2016, and none of these basement dwellers will be there — that’s an extra enticement to see the movie.

The Ghostbusters Are Girls Now — But No One Told the Toys

Despite howls of protest from man-children across the Internet, the new Ghostbusters will hit screens this summer, and the first batch of toys are creeping on to  toy shelves. And while here are some great action figures and LEGO playsets, not all of the toys have caught on that the new Ghostbusters are for girls.

The new Ghostbusters Electronic Proton Pack released for the movie features a boy on the front of the box and the same boy on the back of the box.

Just to make sure we weren’t imagining things, we went back to the Ghostbusters trailer and checked out who was wielding the proton packs in the movie.

Ghostbusters - Yep, They're Women
The Ghostbusters – Yep, They’re Women

Another toy that has hit shelves is the Ghostbusters Sidearm Proton Blaster. Again, the photos on the front and the back show a boy playing with the blaster — not a girl.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with boys playing with these toys, but when they are toys based on a movie starring women, and the marketing completely excludes women and girls — it’s jarring.

The assumption seems to be that action-oriented toys are for boys and that boys will not buy them if they see a girl on the box. I wonder how those boys would feel about buying the “proton blaster” if they knew a woman licked it first?

Dr. Jillian Holtzmann boy-proofs her blaster.
Dr. Jillian Holtzmann boy-proofs her blaster.

Toy companies still have no faith that girls would want to engage in heroic role playing; and retail stores still have no idea where to put a toy for girls that is not coded purple or pink, or — heaven forbid — a toy that is supposed to appeal to both genders equally.

There is still work to do.

Cosplay: Little Girl Ghostbusters Are Ready to Believe You

While on my way to a panel for Auburndale City Con, I spotted these adorable little girls cosplaying as the new female Ghostbusters. I gave the George Patterson, the father two in the group, a business card, and he graciously sent us some photos and a short movie the girls made. He also answered some questions about how the cosplay was developed.

Who came up with the idea?

I have to give Danielle my oldest daughter the credit for the Ghostbusters idea and the storyline for the video we produced.

Did the girls get to help make the costumes? Have they been cosplaying long?

The girls really enjoyed the assembly process of the proton packs. They got to use spray paint, duct tape, a drill and liquid nails.  As for how long the girls have been cosplaying, I would have to say their whole lives. From Batgirl to She-Ra, Princess Leia to Lara Croft — they have found many great characters to play.

Are the girls planning to see the new movie?

The girls are very excited about [the new movie]. They have seen the previous movies and they have also been practicing the Ghostbusters theme song on Lego Rock Band. Danielle scores 100 percent on the lyrics portion most of the time.

Any plans for future costumes?

The neighborhood girls have already been scheming together on next years costumes. Lilly my youngest, wants to to Ewoks and AT-ATs. Full size AT-ATs!

I said, “That is like 300 feet tall!”

Lilly said, “I know. Won’t it be awesome?”