It’s what this summer’s reboot is battling, big time, and the key players behind the project are only making it worse.
Hollywood has been trying to bring “Ghostbusters” back in some capacity for years. Script after script got rejected, one time very publicly by original star Bill Murray. Co-star Dan Aykroyd insisted Murray didn’t “shred” one potential script as was alleged in several media outlets.
Still, it was clear it didn’t send Murray rushing to strap on his proton pack again.
The industry finally figured out how to crack the project -- introduce four female Ghostbusters rather than deal with direct comparisons to the classic quartet. Women were starting to flaunt their box office clout at the time, so the decision made sense.
Voila! The movie got the proverbial greenlight. That’s when the first problems cropped up. Some loyal fans rejected the notion of the casting gender swap. They felt it changed the original story’s dynamic and wouldn’t be a “true” Ghostbusters film. Particularly if the original surviving cast members didn’t play starring roles.
Harold Ramis, who co-wrote and starred in the 1984 original, died in 2014.
Others recoiled at a movie featuring four women, not men.
Internet trolls troll. It’s what they do. Yet rather than ignore the sillier comments “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig attacked them head on.
Web-based attacks make for fun reading, but they ultimately don’t matter. Remember all the fuss about Ben Affleck becoming our new Batman? Affleck and co. shrugged their shoulders at the hullabaloo, made the movie and the public soon realized he was a fine fit for the cowl.
In short: Let the movie speak for itself.
Journalists subsequently rushed to Feig’s side, turning a silly meme into a story that simply won’t fade.
The “Ghostbusters” gender battle only got uglier. Soon, the film became a cause celebre for women in Hollywood. That meant the project felt more pressure to succeed than your standard reboot. Suddenly, the film’s potential failure became a sore point with reporters and social justice warriors alike.
Feig kept on fighting nameless web trolls. He tried to be chivalrous, saying anyone attacking the film should train their fire on him instead.
“Attack me all you want but when you attack and insult my cast. you’ve crossed a line. Grow up and leave my cast alone.”
The film’s stars -- Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon -- can handle a few mean tweets. Can’t they?
Countless articles rushed to the movie’s aid. Those who disliked the film’s first trailer were labeled “misogynists.” All, again, without knowing if the finished film is great or simply a high-profile cash grab.
Even co-star McCarthy quietly slammed the trailer. That didn’t stop press outlets from attacking those who felt a similar sense of disappointment.
Bad buzz can spell disaster … or mean absolutely nothing. Last year’s “Fantastic Four” reboot lived down to its bad press clippings. Yet the 1997 smash “Titanic” generated ominous headlines leading up to its theatrical release.
We all know what happened with that film.
So what’s a potential dud/blockbuster to do? Here are four steps to reverse the bad “Ghostbusters” buzz:
- Don’t feed the (Internet) trolls. Period. This goes to the director, cast members … even the Best boy. Just stop.
- Let the Ghostbusters Speak. Have the original cast defend the reboot. So far, only Ernie Hudson has uttered a full throated defense of the new film. Grab the old crew, throw some cash at them, and have them hit the promotional circuit. Now, not later. Murray may be a tough sell here. He’s famous for his idiosyncratic behavior. But Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Hudson will likely pitch in.
- Release a new trailer ASAP. The first trailer is a clunker. No questions asked. Cut a new one now. You’ve got the footage. Use it. Even bad movies can yield killer trailers. If Feig and co. insist their film is rock solid … prove it.
- Avoid the gender card. Don’t go the full, or even half, Hillary Clinton. Treat the film as a fun homage to that “Ghostbusters” spirit. Drop everything else. Let that be the focus. Stay on message until July 15, when the movie opens nationwide. By then, any bad “Ghostbusters” buzz will be forgotten … assuming the movie delivers.