All of you are probably aware of the saying that "all publicity is good publicity." This is the idea that it doesn't matter if the public is saying something bad about you or your product, so much as it matters that they're paying attention and saying something at all. It seems that this is a philosophy that Tom Rothman, Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group, fully subscribes to, as he is actually elated about all of the hate and bile that has been spewing for months about Paul Feig's upcoming Ghostbusters reboot.
The Hollywood Reporter recently ran an extensive interview with the Sony executive, and while the conversation touches on a wide variety of subjects -- from Spider-Man to animation -- but some of the most interesting comments are about the soon-to-be-released Ghostbusters. Tom Rothman was asked specifically if he thinks that all of the internet bashing the horror comedy has received will wind up impacting the film, and rather than playing nervous about it, he instead revealed that the situation actually has him over the moon. Said Rothman,
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?
There are definitely two ways to look at this. On the one hand, it's entirely possible that Tom Rothman is absolutely right. Because of the controversy surrounding Ghostbusters, the awareness of the movie is tremendously high -- and it's very likely that it's generated a certain level of curiosity. Audiences may very well turn out in droves for the film just to have a personal opinion about it -- and if the feature actually winds up being good, buzz coming out as a result could certainly lead to big box office profits.
But then there's the less-positive angle on the situation -- and the one that Tom Rothman is probably trying very hard not to think about. From John Carter to Fantastic Four, there are many movies that were at the center of controversies months before their actual release, and that controversy ultimately translated to negative word of mouth that killed all opportunities at the box office.
Despite all the terrible and horrible things that have been said about Ghostbusters over the last year-plus, whether or not the movie succeeds may all just boil down to one simple thing: whether it's actually any good. If the film screens for critics and gets plenty of raves, all of the awareness that's been building up could translate to a massive win. If it gets universally panned, it's easy to imagine audiences staying away like cinemas are contaminated with the Zika Virus. Given that the movie is just a few weeks from release, set to come out on July 15th, we'll know soon enough which way the pendulum winds up swinging.