When news of a Ghostbusters reboot hit the news, fans reacted very strongly. While there was some excitement, many fans loudly decried the decision of Paul Feig to cast an all-female ghostbusting team, led by Melissa McCarthy. The strong reaction from fans has continued to make news as the film debuted this July. Whether or not the film does well, it sparks an important conversation about women in film.
If you are looking for a good research paper topic for your film criticism or women’s studies class, consider grabbing some popcorn and heading to the theater to see the new Ghostbusters.
Paul Feig on casting women
Feig actually turned down the opportunity to make a new Ghostbusters movie several times. It was pitched as a sequel, and to him, original stories are more interesting. He decided to approach it as a reboot: “I thought if I could cast all the funny women I know, it would be a nice way to avoid comparisons to the original iconic cast,” he told Brian Raftery in a Wired interview, “A Ghostbuster and Gentleman,” posted July 1, 2016.
The response to the first trailer posted was immediate—and negative. An outpouring of misogynistic statements filled the YouTube comments. But that didn’t trouble chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tom Rothman. In an interview with Stephen Galloway on The Hollywood Reporter, “Tom Rothman on ‘Spider-Man’ Plans and Loving ‘Ghostbusters’ Trolls,” posted June 23, 2016, Rothman said of the film’s bashing, “It’s the greatest thing that ever happened. Are you kidding me? We’re in the national debate, thank you. Can we please get some more haters to say stupid things?”
Criticism by the public on social media
Melissa McCarthy and her costars have faced a lot of the criticism directly on Twitter as well. McCarthy is an Oscar nominee for her previous film with Feig, Bridesmaids, which topped $169 million at the box office. Several of McCarthy’s other comedies have broken through the $100 million mark, including two other Feig films: 2013’s The Heat with Sandra Bullock and 2015’s Spy. The track record for the team should be encouraging to non-misogynistic doubters. But fans of the original film have worried about rebooting a classic. “If I wasn’t doing it, I’d have the same concerns,” Feig confessed in Wired.
Of course, fans may have painted a rosy image over the largely forgotten (and, critics say, rightly so) sequel to the original Ghostbusters; Ghostbusters 2 featured the original cast, performed horribly critically and financially, and is best swept under the rug. If fans could set their expectations for the new Ghostbusters at the low bar created by the previous sequel, they wouldn’t be able to help but be pleasantly surprised.
Consider looking at the impact of Twitter on filmmakers for your research paper topic. Have filmmakers made changes based on Twitter responses? Should fans have a say in how “their” films are made?
Women and the box office
It’s long been claimed in Hollywood that female-led films bring in less money, and that no one will go to see a female-led action film. But is that true? Ellen Killoran looked into the issue in her Forbes article, “Female-Led Movies Succeed At The Box Office, But There Are Few Opportunities, Study Shows,” posted June 29, 2016. According to the study, “Among studio films, those written, produced by, and starring women show a higher ROI than male-centric counterparts.” Why is this the case? In part, it’s because women-led films are routinely given lower budgets, and women, in general, are given fewer opportunities to prove themselves. As Feig noted in his interview, the studios go with proven directors for films, and men have had a longer series of chances to establish their reputations. “It’s the banality of people not thinking beyond their default setting,” he explained.
What are some of the top women-led films in the last few years?
- Gone Girl
- Cinderella (2015)
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Finding Dory
For your research paper, consider looking at the data and examining the bias held about women in film.
For more on women in film, visit Questia.
Will you go see the Ghostbusters reboot? Tell us in the comments.