Are the cast and crew behind the “Ghostbusters” reboot hurting their film’s franchise dreams? Or does the old saw, “any publicity is good publicity” still rule?
Stars large and small work the publicity circuit to promote their work like Homer Simpson crashing a Dunkin’ Donuts display.
Talk shows. Online chats. In-person events. Magazine interview spreads. Social media.
It’s part of their job description. Actors typically spend days, sometimes weeks, fulfilling their contractual obligations.
“You’ll love our movie!”
“I had a blast making the TV show.”
“Here’s why you shouldn’t miss [fill-in-the-blank]”
Only when Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy started spreading the news about “Ghostbusters,” they added something extra to the conversation.
They attacked the so-called “haters” who lined up against the reboot concept. The new movie replaces the four male “Ghostbusters” from the 1984 original with female stars.
McCarthy mocked the film’s fanboy critics, saying they probably still live in their mommy’s basement. She also dubbed them “crazy people.”
Dan Aykroyd, one of the original film’s stars and an executive producer on the new movie, recently said the online critics were “men who don’t understand that we have three women on the Supreme Court.”
Paul Feig, the film’s director and the man behind hits like “Spy” and “Bridesmaids,” got so fed up with the backlash he unleashed an expletive-filled Twitter rant against the “haters.”
Heck, the cast even inserted a scene in the movie in which the Ghostbusters blast online comments, an admitted attempt to respond to critics.
So where does the movie stand right before its U.S. release date, July 15? A recent prediction in The Hollywood Report says the movie is targeting a $40-50 million opening weekend. That’s great for most movies. An expensive reboot of one of the ‘80s most cherished comedies?
That’s a disappointment.
It’s what movie observers dubbed the $41 million opening weekend haul by “Independence Day: Resurgence” just a few weeks ago.
Yet movie experts suggest the “hater” chatter won’t hurt Ghostbusters’ box office hopes.
Senior Analyst at Boxoffice.com Shawn Robbins says the gender battles have “only increased awareness of [the movie] and the larger issue of gender equality in Hollywood.”
“It’s arguable that the general audience’s interest in seeing the movie is higher now than it would have been had the cast and crew ignored early criticisms from the vocal minority,” Robbins adds.
Robbins thinks the initial box office estimates could even be on the conservative side.
And while the opening weekend figures may still underwhelm, he cautions the franchise could still fight back.
“We may not know if potential for a sequel exists until the general audience has had their say, which could be at least a few weeks into the film’s run,” he says.
Many summer blockbusters are accompanied by a crush of related merchandise. T-shirts. Action figures. Lunch boxes.
Target, one of the country’s largest retail chains, recently put “Clearance” stickers on some of its “Ghostbusters” toys days before the film even opened.
Is that an omen… or an aberration?
J. Don Birnam, a film critic with Box Office Prophets, says negative publicity can damage a film’s commercial prospects. Birnam suggests the minds behind the film may feel they’ve already lost a certain segment of the audience.
“You can’t anger them any more,” Birnam says.
The new calculation could be dividing audiences into camps and hoping those who reject the early “haters” get motivated. And, of course, bring their friends on opening night.
“They have no problem throwing digs at the fanboys,” he says of the film’s key players, even within the film itself.
The strategy could payoff. Or, Team Ghostbusters may regret it.
“It’s a dangerous gamble. Angry fanboys control a lot of the noise on the Internet,” he says.
Birnam says the comparison to “Resurgence” isn’t perfect, since one is an action sci-fi affair and the other is a comedy. The latter typically does less box office.
The problem, though, is “Ghostbusters” gargantuan budget. It hovers around $144 according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Reelz movie expert Leonard Maltin says the film’s cast clearly is taking a defensive posture. Those dollar signs explain why.
“There’s a lot of money at stake. These movies now cost a fortune… there’s a lot of nervousness,” says Maltin, who co-hosts “REELZ Reviews: Movies on Demand” for the network.
Maltin has seen a similar version of fanboy fallout before. Remember the outrage when a comic actor, Michael Keaton, was cast as Batman in the late 1980s?
“Then they saw the movie, and they really liked it,” he says.
The same may ultimately prevail with “Ghostbusters.”
“That’s gonna eclipse everything else… and it always boils down to that,” he says.