Sony ain’t afraid of no ghost — but the studio is terrified of not having a franchise to call its own. That’s why the studio announced plans yesterday to turn Ghostbusters into a full-fledged franchise, with new films, TV shows, merchandizing and much more. But as I wrote at Quartz,
In doing so, Sony is proving that it hasn’t learned any lessons from its last attempt to create its own version of the Marvel/DC/Star Wars Cinematic Universe, as it once again tries to resurrect a shaky franchise. The studio is repeating the same mistakes it made with Spider-Man, when they announced with much fanfare in Dec. 2013 the creation of a “franchise brain trust,” which would enable Sony to alternate Spider-Man sequels with various film spinoffs (including Venom, villain-centric Sinister Six and incredulously, even a possible Spidey-free movie about Peter Parker’s Aunt May). But when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 imploded last summer, it torpedoed all such plans, forcing Sony to re-partner with Marvel, scrap those “franchise brain trust” films, and restart its Spider-Man film franchise again in 2017, for the third time in 15 years.
And Monday’s Ghostbusters news sounds alarmingly similar to those once-grand, now-scuttled Spider-Man plans. The studio is in transition and needs a viable franchise, stat, but this development will likely do the Ghostbusters films more harm than good:
What made the upcoming female version so exciting, which is written and directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat), was its fresh take on the story—who doesn’t want to see these four funny women kicking paranomal butt? But the announcement of another guy-centric Ghostbusters film has already sapped much of that thrill. As noted in Vanity Fair, “The girls aren’t being kicked out of the firehouse. But it sure feels a little crowded for them, even before they’ve moved in.”
I’m still excited for Feig’s Ghostbusters film next summer, but Sony’s plans beyond that make about as much sense as that Aunt May Spider-Man spinoff.