[Update: Now a separate report has surfaced online saying Deadline’s report of this new Ghostbusters movie being “male-centric” is incorrect, with Chris Pratt poised to co-star with Tatum and a 4-film inter-connected universe planned. More details here. Our original story follows below.]
A new, female-centric Ghostbusters movie is set to begin production this summer, but Sony Pictures (under new leadership) is already cutting that film off at the knees. Deadline reports that the studio is putting together a “male-driven action-centric comedy” Ghostbusters film that will act as a “counterpart” to director Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters. Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo—who are currently in pre-production on Captain America: Civil War—are looking to direct and produce this “male Ghostbusters” with Channing Tatum and his partners Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan also producing. Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce has been set to pen the screenplay. This is all being put together under the newly formed company Ghost Corps, which includes Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd.
The hope is that Tatum will play one of the Ghostbusters in this other new franchise entry, and no doubt he has the starpower to launch such a film. But frankly, this whole thing is incredibly irksome. Essentially the studio is saying, “Hey guys we’re making a forward-thinking, all-female Ghostbusters, but don’t worry—the real Ghostbusters is coming shortly afterward with men.” This has apparently been part of Reitman and Aykroyd’s plan all along, and no doubt Sony likes the idea of building its own inter-connected Ghostbusters universe of films, but still the basic message is that Feig’s film is a warm-up to a male-centric (ie. “traditional”) Ghostbusters.
When the all-female Ghostbusters was first announced—with a cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Melissa McCarthy—some Ghostbusters fans had strong opinions about a women-led reboot to the franchise. But I was enthused by the fact that Sony was steadfast in this new direction, and looked forward to seeing Feig launch a new franchise. Now, with today’s news, it feels like Feig’s movie could either be seen as an alternative or “sub-Ghostbusters” movie. Moreover, you never see the opposite happening. Though they have lucrative franchises already, Fox never put into development an all-female X-Men movie, Warner Bros. isn’t working on a female team-up DC Comics movie, and it’s taken Marvel Studios 18 films to get to their first led by a woman. Why, now that a female Ghostbusters is in the works, do we need to go ahead and make sure we also have a male Ghostbusters too? I understand the desire for an inter-connected universe, but the gender separation is frustrating.
Feig’s film starts production this summer in anticipation of a July 2016 release date, and Reitman hopes that the male-centric Ghostbusters will start filming next summer, taking the Russo Brothers’ next slot (they recently signed a first-look deal with Sony). The duo are heavily considered the favorites to helm Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity Wars saga and if so, would need to jump right into that after Civil War, but we’ll see how things shake out here.
The Russo Brothers have proven themselves capable of handling major action sequences and large ensembles, and I’ve no doubt they would make an entertaining Ghostbusters movie. And Pearce is a solid screenwriter (I’m one of the few that loved Iron Man 3), and Tatum is an impeccable performer (he’s proven himself in comedy, action, and drama now), so the team here isn’t an issue. I just don’t see a need to overshadow Feig’s film before it begins production with this action-centric “Male Ghostbusters.” Oh I forgot, it’s because studios think men are incapable of connecting with female-centric films, so they feel the need to pander by making something “palatable” for male audiences. My mistake.