Few films in recent memory have been as dogged by controversy as 2016's Ghostbusters. The reboot of the iconic and beloved 80's franchise was met with anger and vitriol for its all-female lineup. The film made money overall, but for a summer tentpole reboot of a franchise property, it underperformed and a direct sequel at this point seems unlikely. The director of the film, Paul Feig, spoke about what prevented the film from becoming the hit it was intended to be, saying,
I think it kind of hampered us a little bit because the movie became so much of a cause. I think for some of our audience, they were like, 'What the fuck? We don't wanna go to a cause. We just wanna watch a fuckin' movie.' ... It was a great regret in my life that the movie didn't do better, 'cause I really loved it. It's not a perfect movie. None of my movies are perfect. I liked what we were doing with it. It was only supposed to be there to entertain people.
Indeed, a movie that was meant to entertain and update a cherished property for new audiences became deeply politicized. This no doubt came as a shock for the Bridesmaids director, who simply endeavored to make a film, not a political statement. The film became a rallying cry for those who value feminism and equal opportunity. Given the worldwide success of light, blockbuster fare, Paul Feig's sentiments to Vulture are likely right. Audiences don't want to go to a cause; they just want to watch a movie. So while there were firmly entrenched camps of those for and against the film, the majority of film-going audiences aware of the controversy perhaps felt it better to just avoid the film altogether. It is sad that Paul Feig's film seem to have been judged on what kind of political statement the casting represented, and not on how it succeeded as a film. It was an unfair burden that has soured his relationship with the online community. But, in a political climate, even a popcorn flick as innocuous as Ghostbusters can become a lightning rod for debate.
A film with this much going against it couldn't afford to not be great. Unfortunately, the film also fell short of critical expectations. While having a lot that worked, many reviewers were not blown away by it and in general, the receptions were lukewarm. Ghostbusters had to truly knock it out of the park to silence the vocal online community and bring in audiences, but that is not what happened. So, while they may deserve a chance to make Ghostbusters 2 with this new cast, for now it seems that the franchise is in the re-evaluation phase. There is still a ton of love for the property and money to be made, therefore in some way, shape or form, we will see Ghostbusters on the big screen again someday.