The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot movie was, even before its release, a cauldron of controversy mired in myriad criticism. Brandishing an all-female primary cast to reinvent 1984’s Ghostbusters and the childhood-defining franchise it spawned, the film found its prospective audiences divided between increasingly political lines, creating an atmosphere that would stifle just about any blockbuster. While, its subsequent box office failure lead to much Monday morning quarterbacking, a name intrinsically connected to the franchise in Dan Aykroyd recently dropped a bombshell of a critique directed at reboot director Paul Feig.
Appearing on the U.K. chat show Sunday Brunch, Dan Aykroyd – one of the primary stars and co-writer of the original film, who also fielded a cameo as a cab driver in the reboot – was tackling the inevitable Ghostbusters question, lamenting the 2016 reboot’s lack of success. While praising the film’s cast of comediennes, Aykroyd attributes Sony’s unwillingness to move forward with a sequel to financial infeasibility, stating:
“The girls are great in it. Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig – what wonderful, wonderful players they are – and Leslie Jones. I was really happy with the movie, but it cost too much. And Sony does not like to lose money, they don’t. It made a lot of money around the world but just cost too much, making it economically not feasible to do another one. So, that’s too bad.”
However, without further solicitation, Aykroyd continues with some seemingly off-the-cuff comments directed at Ghostbusters 2016 director Paul Feig, implying that his inability to take advice resulted in mistakes that made the already-costly project unnecessarily more exorbitant. According to Aykroyd:
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“The director, he spent too much on it. He didn’t shoot scenes we suggested to him and several scenes that were going to be needed and he said ‘Nah, we don’t need them.’ Then we tested the movie and they needed them and he had to go back. About $30 to $40 million in reshoots. So, he will not be back on the Sony lot any time soon.”
Interestingly, Sony subsequently refuted Aykroyd’s numbers, instead claiming that Feig’s reshoots only cost somewhere between $3 million to $4 million. Yet, the fact that, nearly a year after the July 15, 2016 release of Ghostbusters, Aykroyd would suddenly come out swinging, potentially alienating both Feig and Sony, is rather curious. Aykroyd’s budgetary explanation (Sony’s rebuttal notwithstanding,) might be valid, but the film’s reported $144 million budget – exorbitant as that might be – was generally in the same ballpark as most contemporary blockbusters.
However, the comments in question may also stem from the fact that, for Aykroyd, Ghostbusters 2016 represented the decades he spent nursing a franchise follow-up after 1989’s Ghostbusters II was considered a creative disappointment that grossed less than half of the 1984 original film. In 2011, a prospective Ghostbusters III was on the verge of production, when Bill Murray, the last original cast holdout for the belated sequel project, ended the threequel’s chances by allegedly shredding the script and sending it back to writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with a note reportedly saying, “No one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts!” Any chance of that project’s resuscitation eventually ended when original co-star and co-creator Harold Ramis passed way in 2014; an event that sent Sony down the reboot path.
The failure of Ghostbusters 2016 can arguably be attributed to many things. While the idea of prejudicial backlash against its all-female primary cast is a tempting angle to visit, the film itself felt detached and almost perfunctory down to its very essence. It was akin to a parody of a comedy film, hiding behind a veneer of sarcasm and satire, rather than being an earnest attempt at comedic storytelling. Moreover, the social media strife – from both sides of the aisle – during the film’s buildup simply resulted in an irreparably segmented audience, preemptively dooming the film.