Culture

Sony Toning Down Expectations for a 'Ghostbusters' Sequel

Box-office reality hurts.

You might be waiting a while for a second call from “Ghostbusters.”

After middling international box office and a fast-approaching animation launch, it seems a reunion for Kristen Wiig & Co. at Sony Pictures is precarious.

“While nothing has been officially announced yet, there’s no doubt in my mind it will happen,” President of Worldwide distribution at Sony Rory Bruer declared to TheWrap last month.

But the studio is now being more cautious, telling TheWrap on Wednesday, “Nothing has been decided on the next live action movie.”

In fairness, the second phase of the Ghostbusters brand was always meant to be the animated effort “Ghostbusters: Ecto Force,” a TV series about teams of paranormal scientists around the world, an individual close to the brand told TheWrap.

But viable franchises waste no time dating sequels and fast tracking filmmakers these days — what changed?

Blame it on box office, perhaps.

“Ghostbusters” was made for a whopping $144 million in production costs. That doesn’t count ancillary outlays or marketing expenditures — which typically add 50 percent to the overall spend.

After four weeks in theaters, the female-led reboot has made only $117.2 million domestically — a low number that’s nearly impossible to recover from at this stage. Even worse, the horror comedy didn’t play internationally, netting only $62.8 million overseas so far for a worldwide total of $180 million. It has yet to open in France, Japan and Mexico, but those markets aren’t positioned to push “Ghostbusters” into the black.

This is comforting in a couple of ways, the first being proof that maybe some classics shouldn’t be rebooted. My problem with this movie wasn’t the all-female cast, it was the audacity of trying to update and/or improve upon the late legend, Harold Ramis.

Just take the lists of films Ramis has been associated with as an actor, director or writer and leave them be. That’s your best bet for avoiding humiliation. Here is a sampling of movies he’s either written or co-written:

Ghostbusters
Animal House
Caddyshack
Stripes
Groundhog Day
Analyze This

Nobody should look at any of those and think, “Hey, let’s give it another go.”

Ramis also directed a few of those movies,as well as the extremely underrated Michael Keaton movie “Multiplicity” and several episodes of “The Office.”

Last year, “The Curse of Trying to Improve Upon Ramis” struck another movie associated with him: “Vacation”. He directed the original and last year’s “update” tanked.

The other way I find comfort in this is that the push to shame people into seeing this movie lest they be called “sexist” failed. If your big marketing push for a lighthearted comedy is predicated upon every major entertainment publication writing about the social significance of the movie, you’ve already lost. Let the comedy be funny and see if that speaks for itself.

And leave Harold Ramis alone.