Paul Feig has seen the light.
The revelation came more than a year too late, but it might just help him with future film projects.
Will other directors follow his lead?
Who’s Feig? He’s one of Hollywood’s more reliable comedy directors. He collaborated with Judd Apatow on television’s “Freaks and Geeks.” More recently, he brought the 2011 smash “Bridesmaids” to theaters as well as “Spy” and “The Heat.”
The latter films were big hits.
So it made some sense to hand him the inevitable “Ghostbusters” franchise reboot. Only the film under-performed at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter estimated the film cost its studio, Sony, $70 million.
What went wrong?
- Lousy trailer
- Gender casting switch that upset some hardcore fans
- Mediocre product
- A marketing campaign built around finger wagging
The latter likely hurt the movie the most. Journalists deemed those skeptical of the remake misogynists. The cast pushed the movie on “Ellen” along with Hillary Clinton, playing up the culture war aspect. If the movie failed, Hollywood would be reluctant to produce more female-powered projects.
Or so the narrative went.
The latter wasn’t wholly true, given the success of the “Hunger Games” franchise and previous female-centric smashes. Still, it caused both reporters and feminists to cheer on the film’s success. And potential audiences took note.
Feig touched on this theme with Vulture.com, pointing to that effort as his biggest regret regarding the film’s marketing push.
“I think it kind of hampered us a little bit because the movie became so much of a cause. I think for some of our audience, they were like, ‘What the f***? We don’t wanna go to a cause. We just wanna watch a f***in’ movie.’”
He’s right, but will future directors resist the urge to make their movies “causes,” too? “Wonder Woman” mostly did that, and the box office registers rang …and rang some more.
The only cause that mattered for “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkings? Pure entertainment.
Feig’s revelation may not apply across the board. Movies and television are very different in 2017. A liberal comedy show teeming with talking points can survive, nay thrive, in our current culture by becoming a cause.
Stephen Colbert resuscitated “The Late Show” by making it a nonstop Trump bashing affair. The modern TV show doesn’t need to draw a mass audience. A strong niche will do just fine.
A big budget movie desperate to earn back its investment? That’s a whole different story. Feig learned that the hard way.