The news broke over the weekend that Sony was going to call -- or, more precisely, had already called -- Paul Feig to helm "Ghostbusters 3," the sequel to, and overhaul of, the supernatural comedy hits that this time would feature a new cast of female Ghostbusters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, no formal negotiations have taken place, but Feig is said to be the studio's first choice.
But while Feig has a bankable reputation, it remains to be seen how his voice might be reconciled with the existing "Ghostbusters" sensibility.
Feig's recent track record is unassailable. "Bridesmaids" grossed $288 million worldwide and earned two Oscar nominations, while "The Heat" grossed $229 million worldwide. Both were outsized hits and commercial crowd pleasers. But taking the reins of the "Ghostbusters" franchise would mark something new for him and the larger Judd Apatow school of comedy of which he's a part.
Feig and Apatow's movies (and those of their contemporaries) tend to be mid-budget affairs ($32.5 million for "Bridesmaids," $43 million for "The Heat") that are high on R-rated jokes and low on spectacle, relying on a signature blend of immaturity, raunch and occasional sweetness.
"Ghostbusters," on the other hand, is a big studio franchise with heavy genre elements — a new installment would presumably include eye-popping action set pieces and extensive visual effects. Both previous films were also rated PG.
As directed by Ivan Reitman (who was long attached to helm a third installment but exited in March), the original "Ghostbusters" movies were also sweet and goofy and bolstered by the considerable comedic talents of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis.
Would an ironic, R-rated, Apatowian take on "Ghostbusters" still feel like "Ghostbusters"? Or might it feel like an extended sketch poking fun at a well-known '80s movie?
On the other hand, Feig could subsume his own voice under that of the franchise, but if that's the case, what does Sony get by bringing on a distinctive comedy helmer like Feig in the first place?
Movies like "21 Jump Street" have successfully tackled '80s properties by turning irreverence about the original into its own comedy brand. It's a daunting challenge, but it's possible. We'll see if Feig can pull it off without crossing the streams.
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