Last night Sony announced that the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters had made a $70 million dollar loss and the sequel was looking unlikely. Despite favourable reviews and making some money domestically at box office, the lukewarm reception to Paul Feig’s supernatural romp has muddied the water for potential sequels and the future franchise looks to be on a decline with the studio possibly choosing to focus on the animated series.
The Ghostbusters reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and the immutable Kate McKinnon had fans and detractors in equal throes. The film may have suffered from flaws such as a lack of continuation of the Ghostbusters lore – setting up a brand new universe for the lady ghostbusters – and some jokes wearing thin, it was still a joyous and highly amusing spectacle that charmed a lot of audiences, inspired a tonne of children, and made ardent Ghostbuster fans squeal with joy. Yet sadly, this failed to regroup profit and placed a red mark in Sony’s ledger.
Before we start throwing blame at the new Ghostbusters because enough stones have been thrown at the film for merely existing, the tepid response has echoed throughout summer blockbusters with Star Trek Beyond, Warcraft, and Independence Day: Resurgence each doing meagrely with critics and audiences alike. And those three existed without the tirade of internet abuse that the Ghostbusters and its four female leads had to endure. Incidentally, out of the entire summer, the one enjoyable, fun, and spirited flick was the reboot of the 1984 classic that had to battle a slime-laden hill to gain success. It is unsurprising that it failed somewhat in recouping favour and ticket sales.
It’s not one particular film, however, that is noting a changing in box office sales – it’s the majority of blockbusters. In a recent Cracked article, they predicted that summer 2018 will implode because of the over-saturation of epic and grandeur films we’ll be getting from Marvel, DC, and many other studios trying to peddle BIGGER AND GREAT FILMS! (Emphasis needed.) The sheer volume of movies has already been detrimental to audiences, critics, and studios, impacting ticket sales and cinemas as less bums are shuffling to seats.
What’s more is that the cost of cinema going has risen in mainstream cinemas. It now costs roughly £10 per person to go watch a film. The expense off-sets the costs of big budgeted films and the loss due to piracy. There are many factors in the rise of ticket prices and perhaps the biggest is the financial market where all sectors, not just cinemas, have inflated costs.
The demand for cheaper tickets causes audiences to stay at home, spending their money on VOD services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Though cinemas have introduced schemes such as Cineworld’s Unlimited Card to appease film-lovers, there just isn’t enough people coming to the cinema anymore and the reasons are far more nuanced than simply the price. Its ease and comfort. Furthermore, due to the constant cycle of releases, films don’t spend much time in cinemas. Cineworld has already ditched Ghostbusters in less than a month, relegating the movie to one evening showing in its final week despite the family appeal and people actively asking for the reboot.
We’re all the blame for the state of the film industry as it is. As audiences, we find solace in the familiar and bend towards stories we know well. We live in a culture where the biggest phenomenon of the year was a return of Pokemon and with our movies, it’s the same. We flock to spandex clad heroes or explosive movies because we know we’re going to be entertained. Routine and the usual, as humans we’ve flittered to them like moths to the flame only to find that repetition gets dull and boring. Not to mention the nagging lights of smartphones which have taken away attention spans and make cinema viewing less of an experience. And Hollywood leaps on these trends, filling our senses and social media streams with as much as possible. It’s an exhausting cycle that make us dizzy and we, as consumers, need to recognise our fault too. There are, after all, thousands of stories and voices and filmmakers out there vying for your attention and if you spend a few moments dabbling in their work, you could find something new and fantastic too.
Maybe the Hollywood needs the impending implosion of 2018 so it can re-evaluate its values and maybe we need a break from superheroes, flame-balls, muscle-bound heroes, and car chases too. The film industry has been flogging the same formula for years without adapting and evolving for the new world filled with diversity, art, and smartphones. Changing Hollywood isn’t by babbling profit away from the business with piracy (impacting tonnes of hard workers and their careers, by the way,) it’s by sourcing that money to great art and support artists who spend their waking hours crafting something original for your amusement.
Ghostbusters was a pin-drop in the sea of remakes and reboots that drowns the audience in stupid unoriginality. And the news comes of more reboots comes thick and fast. Only yesterday was The Equalizer’s Antoine Faqua paired with the Scarface remake and this summer we still have the Ben-Hur remake to come. As enjoyable as Ghostbusters is (though I have a feeling it’ll find a home in a cult audience who genuinely, like myself, loved this film,) we all need to take brave steps towards a better film industry and that starts with investing in the new and the daring. That also includes independent cinema chains who are more fairly priced than chains. Opening conversations between audiences and studios will also start an ebb of change. The industry needs to stop churning out films and take it’s time with releases before we are so overwhelmed that we’re just not interested in movies anymore – which is the scariest thought.
After all, you can’t take steps forward if you are constantly looking back.
What do you think of the news?