The idea of making another Ghostbusters movie has been in the works for quite some time. When Sony courted director Paul Feig (The Heat, Bridesmaids, Spy), the plan was to make it a sequel to the original two installments. “I couldn’t do it if I had to do it as a sequel,” he told Fandango during our recent visit to the Boston, Massachusetts set. “It didn’t resonate with me.” While out walking one day, he asked himself, “OK, if I had to do this, how would I do it?” And the answer seemed to present itself to him.
Instead of re-creating the characters made famous by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, Feig wanted to work with hilarious women and an origin story about a group of scientists discovering the existence of the paranormal in a modern world for the first time. Sony loved the pitch, and the movie started filming for a release the following summer.
“Everyone thinks when we said female Ghostbusters that this means it’s gonna be a chick-flick version of Ghostbusters,” said writer Katie Dippold, who wrote Feig’s The Heat. “I see it so many times and it’s so crazy. Like, ‘Oh they’re gonna trip in their high heels.’ And it’s like, ‘What do you think we’re trying to do here?’”
While Feig said the first wave of Internet comments about the concept of a gender-bent cast was mostly positive, the second wave was purely misogynistic. “I didn’t expect this level of vitriol and also it was gross,” he said. “The beginning, it was purely misogynistic because it hadn’t been really announced that it was a reboot. Now a lot of people say that they’re upset because it’s a reboot and I get that. I think that’s completely legitimate, but that first wave was just all anti-lady.”
Even amidst all the hatemongering, Feig understood. “What I get is that it was a very male movie, a lot of boys grew up with this thing, it was a bonding thing for them, and I get that. My thing was I’m not gonna erase all the old copies of Ghostbusters. They exist. But I’ve been told I’m ruining people's childhoods so many times that what are you gonna do?”
The cast, too, was perplexed by the backlash because they all understood what the film and concept were about. “To me it makes perfect sense, all that superhero stuff,” said Melissa McCarthy. “I think any kind of underdog that’s fighting good vs. evil, I don’t think that has a gender to it.”
Leslie Jones echoed the sentiment, saying, “It’s not a man thing. It’s not a woman thing. It’s a Ghostbusters thing.”
“I definitely want the people who have this really condescending image of what a) I would do with it and b) you would expect women to do in a movie, I’d like to definitely prove them wrong,” Feig added. “But beyond that, you just try to be true to it.”
Is director Paul Feig talking to the 'Lost in Space' Robot, or just really intent on a scene?
Who you gonna call?
Writer Dippold wanted to start fresh with the Ghostbusters script, so she didn’t read any of the Ghostbusters 3 scripts that were circling Sony before she came aboard. “We need all-new characters because there’s never gonna be a new Venkman,” she said. “Bill Murray’s Venkman, that will never change. So we tried to come up with four new characters that we thought were really funny and then we came up with dynamics between them.” Then she tweaked the characters a bit to customize them around the new cast.
In with the old, in with the new
Feig and Dippold are huge fans of the original films. In fact, they say every member of the cast and crew is obsessed, and they approached the reboot with that in mind. “We really just both said to ourselves, ‘What would we be really sad if it wasn’t in there?’” said Feig. “‘What would be sad if there was just no acknowledgement that it existed?’ and really just took it from that.”
For Dippold, she understands why fans would want to see more of the world established in the originals, but she wanted to embrace the fun of seeing the supernatural come to life for the first time and how people react to ghosts. “There’s something so exciting about that and fun that I didn’t want to lose that, and so then it became more about even if it’s not in the original Ghostbusters world, the big thing for me was trying to get as much of the heart and spirit of that as possible in this.”
Dippold said that they crammed in all the Easter eggs fit to print in the reboot, but there are three staples fans will recognize immediately.
You can’t have Ghostbusters without the ghost-busting proton packs.
The technology of Ghostbusters is an incredibly influential part of the film as a whole. “I didn’t want them to be handed technology,” said Feig. “I think it’s so fun that they’re scientists. They all have different branches of science who really build this from the ground up.”
“Our goal was to make all the science seem as real as possible,” said Dippold. “Dan Aykroyd was so good at that fake science mumbo jumbo, and it’s so charming and fun, so we’re trying to still keep that spirit alive at the same time.” The screenwriter initially met with physicists at Columbia University in New York to learn basic concepts, while the props department consulted with a scientist from MIT to help make the technology look “homemade.”
“My Googling will only take us so far,” joked Dippold.
While the gals were fighting ghosts on the green-screen set, a familiar red-and-white vehicle sat in the way, way back of the hangar. Feig had been active on social media all throughout the film’s production and revealed the first look at the new ECTO-1 on Twitter well in advance, and it channels the original design. The hearse with ambulance accoutrements features the signature Ghostbusters logo and Slimer hood ornament, perfect for chasing down agitated spirits.
…Lots and lots of slime. As Wiig’s Erin says in the trailer, “That stuff went everywhere, by the way. In every crack. Very hard to wash off.” According to costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, part of the Ghostbusters jumpsuit includes rubber gloves because “the slime gets very sticky and the gloves work out very well, and they’re easy to rinse off.”
See Ghostbusters in theaters July 15.