“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is only about a week and a half away. Sony, hot-off the $200 million domestic success of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”, is hoping this revival of an iconic franchise will do nearly as well, if not better. Question is: will the fandom, and a new generation, come-out in force?
“Afterlife” (directed by Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman) arrives just five years after Sony released the female-led “Ghostbusters” reboot starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon (as well as Chris Hemsworth). It was directed by Paul Feig, in his fourth collaboration in a row with McCarthy. This “Ghostbusters” opened to $46 million (coming in second place, losing to the second week of “The Secret Life of Pets”) and earned $128 million in North America.
(Feig has since gone on to direct films that haven’t starred McCarthy and haven’t made as much money: “A Simple Favor” and “Last Christmas”. His “School for Good and Evil”, starring Charlize Theron, will be on Netflix next year.)
When Feig’s “Ghostbusters” was released, it was surrounded by loads of controversy, mostly by people who were firmly against a version of “Ghostbusters” with women in the lead roles. Then when people *actually* saw the movie, the reviews were generally positive.
I not only attended a free advance screening near where I live in Albany, NY a few nights before it opened… I hosted it, giving away Ghostbusters-themed prizes to those who correctly guessed answers to trivia questions. And before the film played I had a little fun with the crowd. We all recited the beginning of the “Ghostbusters” theme song before I added, “When Hollywood said ‘We need to make another reboot’, who did they call?” Everyone instantly yelled, “GHOSTBUSTERS!”
And here we are again.
*Also* when the 2016 “Ghostbusters” was out, I did a series of podcast appearances as a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish. One of the topics on pretty much all of them was reviewing the new “Ghostbusters” film. Several of the hosts, and other critics I spoke with about the movie during that time, kept stressing to me how much they enjoyed Kate McKinnon, basically calling her a big, pleasant surprise. And my response to all of them: “Haven’t you been watching ‘Saturday Night Live’ over the past couple years?” Her comedic timing and talent for impressions has been dominant. So I wasn’t surprised at all with how good she was in “Ghostbusters”.
Of course, this was a few months before the 2016 Presidential Election, where McKinnon’s run as Hillary Clinton reached new levels of impact across the entertainment world, social media and one side of the political arena.
Now comes yet another “Ghostbusters”, this one with Paul Rudd, youngsters and the old-timers all involved. What’s interesting is that Sony has already screened the entire feature to select members of the press AND audiences at New York Comic-Con and CinemaCon in Las Vegas. That’s where a friend of mine got to see it. He liked the film overall, though also believes it’s fairly “straightforward”.
Will positive yet “it’s kinda basic” buzz prevent some from experiencing “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” in theaters and maybe wait until it’s available for at-home viewing?