Ivan Reitman on 'Ghostbusters' reboot challenges, from nostalgia to gender issues
The all-female cast for the 'Ghostbusters' reboot are shown in this composite image. From left to right: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. (AP Photo)
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, July 11, 2016 7:07AM EDT
TORONTO -- As Ivan Reitman sees it, much of the premature "Ghostbusters" reboot backlash that's splattered across social media like Slimer ectoplasm is due to nostalgia.
When the female-led reboot of Reitman's 1984 comedy was first announced in August 2014, some fans objected to both the idea of a new version and one featuring women. Then when a trailer emerged last March, the video garnered substantially more "dislikes" than "likes" on YouTube.
"When we released the very first trailer, it hit me: Well, you've got this large population of mostly men who are now in their late 30s or early 40s, they saw 'Ghostbusters' when they were like eight or nine years old and remarkably, it became kind of an important film in their lives," says Reitman, who produced the reboot.
"On one hand it was this amazing compliment to the movie, to me. But now there's this great fear that somehow we're going to screw up this thing and this love," adds the Toronto-raised filmmaker, whose other credits include "Animal House" and "Meatballs."
"Particularly when we released the first trailer, however good or bad it may have been -- and it was somewhere in between those two things -- there was no way for that minute and a half to capture what was burning in the hearts of these people who held that movie dear to their hearts."
It's a similar issue when it comes to the negative reaction over the female cast, he adds.
"Gender issues are really complicated and they have more to do with society, obviously, than with film, per se," says Reitman.
"I'm hoping in some small way that this 'Ghostbusters' contributes to tearing down those cliches or those stereotypes. But my instinct was that the issues ... go beyond gender politics and had a lot to do with just regular people's love of something and not wanting to see it soiled."
Reitman is hopeful fans will be satisfied when the new flick hits theatres on Friday.
He says feedback from a recent preview in Toronto was positive. He also got positive feedback from original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson, who appear in the reboot and watched it together in a private screening.
"I came in at the end and they hugged me, even Bill hugged me," says Reitman, noting that was one of the happiest moments of his life.
"He said, 'We all jumped up and applauded at the end.' He said he was nervous at the beginning and then they soon relaxed when they saw how well it was going and how much fun the movie is."
Paul Feig directed and co-wrote the film, which stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as a pack of paranormal fighters. Co-stars include Chris Hemsworth as their receptionist, Andy Garcia as the mayor and Cecily Strong as his assistant.
Feig came up with the idea for the female cast after plans for a "Ghostbusters 3" didn't solidify, largely due to the death of original cast member Harold Ramis.
"He had Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy tied up to do it and we thought, 'These are the two funniest women in the world. We should take this seriously,"' says Reitman.
Murray was a holdout for a "Ghostbusters 3," but for the reboot, he "came on quite willingly, actually, after all the trouble he's been in the past about one thing or another," says Reitman with a laugh.
"He really likes these women, thought they would be spectacular together -- and they are spectacular."
Reitman was also keen on the all-female idea when he first heard of it from Feig.
Now, he's open to doing a sequel with Ghost Corps, the production company he and Aykroyd set up along with Sony Pictures to explore opportunities with the franchise. Other projects in the works include the animated series "Ghostbusters: Ecto Force."
"I thought actually, by doing it with women, it refreshed it and made you not necessarily have to deal with the kind of iconic weight of those guys," says Reitman.
"It was just starting anew and it's how we ended up here. I decided I would produce this film and make sure that it would be in the spirit of the original films and that's what I'm the most pleased about.
"I think it's done exactly that."