Brand expansion, folks. You heard producer Ivan Reitman say yesterday, “We want to expand the ‘Ghostbusters’ universe in ways that will include different films, TV shows, merchandise, all things that are part of modern filmed entertainment.” And he’ll be doing just that via the company Ghost Corps with Dan Aykroyd, which is set up on the Sony lot. “This is a branded entertainment, a scary supernatural premise mixed with comedy,” says Reitman. We know that means two “Ghostbusters” films are on the way: a female-centric installment directed by Paul Feig, and as announced yesterday, a male-focused edition that Channing Tatum will produce (may also star in), and will be directed by The Russo Brothers (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”).
But apparently there’s more, and this may be what Reitman meant when he said “and there will be other surprises to come.” According to a report from Bad Ass Digest, two more films are in the works. And yes, it’s as you guessed, all building up to a shared universe scenario ala Marvel, with the third film culminating in an ‘Avengers’ -style movie that would merge the ladies film and the guys film into one super team-up movie. Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but it does make sense given Ghost Corps and Reitman’s aforementioned intentions, not to mention Aykroyd, who’s been spouting off “shared universe” sentiments for some time now.
The report echoes earlier Sony leaks that said the very-much-in-demand Chris Pratt, a friend of Tatum’s, could also join the other ‘Ghostbusters’ movie which may not be as strictly “male”-centric as initially reported, but yes, will feature men on the team.
What about that fourth film? It’s apparently a prequel which will take place before Feig and the Russo’s movies, but details otherwise are scarce.
This is all well and good, but the first thing that comes to mind: did Sony learn nothing from their “Spider-Man” franchise debacle, planning four films and spin-offs before the first film was even off the ground? We know how that all fell apart after two movies — with larger plans scrapped — and now they’re starting over once again, having had to cede some creative control to Marvel in a move that feels like desperation to get the character back on track. In short, maybe Sony and these ‘Ghostbusters’ teams should take it one movie at a time.
And really, the shared universe conceit is becoming the most played out concept in Hollywood, with everyone looking to Marvel for the answer with not one studio being able to replicate that success yet (though with every studio formulating their own version of the same model). One has to wonder how soon it all gets really episodic — something Peter Jackson learned the hard way with his ‘Hobbit’ films that felt like TV chapters instead of self-contained movies.
As Reitman suggested in his interview yesterday, rights involving the original four characters are tricky — all three surviving principals including Bill Murray have veto power which is why a proper “Ghostbusters” sequel never happened. And it’s probably the reason we won’t see the original characters again any time soon. But with a new universe on the way, Reitman and co. have found a way to expand the brand anyway.
The last rumor from the BAD report, as Reitman suggested with his “scary supernatural premise mixed with comedy” comment, is that the “Ghostbusters” franchise could move well beyond ghosts and could expand into a catch-all umbrella for a world of supernatural FX comedies. This also stands to make sense considering the numerous ideas Aykroyd has had for the “Ghostbusters” franchise including a third unproduced film that was titled “Hell Bent” (essentially, Manhattan becomes Hell on Earth), or even his original draft of the first film that was much more ambitious and expensive. There’s probably five or six unused drafts of “Ghostbusters” scripts that could be reused and recycled for these films, not to mention a huge bible that Aykroyd created back in the day.
But as we said, let’s take it one movie at a time and hope everyone involved has bitten off way more than they can chew.