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‘Ghostbusters’ to bust

| Monday, March 21, 2016

Ghostbusters_WebEric Richelsen | The Observer

If you have not heard the unfortunate news, there is going to be a remake of the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” The remake will star Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. While I am an avid fan of the original “Ghostbusters,” I am pessimistic about the quality of this year’s film, to put it nicely.

Historically, remakes have had a terrible track record with matching the original’s ratings. I will stay away from saying that the film will be unsuccessful, because the fact alone of a remade 80’s classic will inevitably attract a large audience. Throw in some modern A-list actresses and there is little room for error. That is why director Paul Feig scored a $150 million budget to work with. However, let’s step back for a minute and approach this philosophically.

As a cinema fanatic, I want to see quality movies. A remake of a formerly very successful film is a cop-out way of producing bad cinema that is a product of the studio system. We are talking about an industry here, after all. The filmmaking studios are the investors that make big-budget movies; thus, they are looking for guaranteed profit, which has become a formulaic strategy in the entertainment industry. While a formula for entertainment sounds oxymoronic, it’s true that they exist, and studio executives know them by heart. You might notice how every comedy you have seen in the last decade stars a very similar cast and follows very similar plot lines, or how the most comedic moments are spoiled in the trailer. And there’s a reason why Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell show up in trailers every time you go to the movies: the studios are trying to sell the movie to you. So I’m not saying this year’s “Ghostbusters” will be unsuccessful, because it will most likely make its budget back and then some. To the studios, this will be a “successful” picture, regardless of how poorly standard film characteristics such as acting, editing, visual effects, lighting, etc. turn out on screen. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search on some remakes, or simply think about some you may have seen. For example, the “Herbie: Fully Loaded” 2005 remake starring Lindsay Lohan was one of the most disappointing films to hit the silver screen in the last decade. But with a $50 million budget, it earned over $66 million, scoring $16 million for Disney. Would you release a 90-minute abominable picture for $16 million? Exactly, and that is why these films are made.

There are outliers, of course. New film technology brings about capabilities that were previously unfathomable. Regardless of your opinion on last year’s “Mad Max,” think about how beautiful it looked. With the same director as the original, released 36 years later, there is a persistent cinematic vision that lived through the decades. The potential to create quality remakes is there — I just wish more of an effort was given to create and foster an original and separate vision. But as long as the film industry keeps making money in this way, dreadful remakes are here to stay.

So take my advice: don’t let the trailer make you pay upwards of $10 to see a calculatedly terrible picture. At least don’t see it on the opening weekend, because statistics say you’re going to waste your time and money. Do us all a favor and wait at least a week to see it. Read some reviews and then decide. Who knows, maybe after all Columbia Pictures will get it right and the film will be as inventive and witty as the original. Maybe I’ll love it. But I will not be suckered into seeing it the opening weekend, regardless of how many Instagram ads remind me to do so.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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