When asked about showbiz player Tom Rothman, my reply – delivered with an unwavering gaze and served neat in an Old Fashion glass of truth – has always been the same: “Who?”
However, now the name’s synonymous with the big brass clackers ever since the cadaver of cinematic disaster GHOSTUSTERS: Answer The Call (as it’s now called) was barely cold on the platter when word went out you’d given the order for another Ghostbusters movie. Talk about a total damn-the-torpedos move proving and removed doubt about Sony’s determination to try and fail and try again to capture the rapture of greenbacks from the box office blast of the original GHOSTBUSTERS.
As for distancing the new movie from the doomed reboot? Smart move. Definitely do not want the stank of director Paul Fieg’s fiasco wafting through your movie. Of course, the minute after making the announcement, the outrage addicts production there was instant backlash and faux outrage played across the social media stage.
Smart Move Number Two proved to be getting out ahead of the outrage junkies looking to feed the monkeys on their back with cries of misogyny responsible for the female cast being thrown out on their ass. Not so, according to the Sony camp. Their movie exists in a different timeline of the Ghostbusters Universe where they could have another movie (cough, bullshit, cough cough) sometime soon. This other new movie isn’t a replacement reboot of Feig’s failure. This third attempt is a legacy sequel.
To really sell the hell out of this legacy angle, director Ivan Reitman wouldn’t be hat tricking the flick in favor of handing the helm to his son Jason Reitman, despite any experience on a big budget, vfx heavy, summer tentpole release. However, he does have two Best Director Oscar nominations. Maybe Jason is the right man for the job.
See what I did there? With “right man” and Reitman? A jaunty little play on –
Fine, let’s get back to the article. Just remember when all the hacks out there start using it in their reviews next year, you know where you read it first.
During a recent video interview, Jason Reitman casually mentioned a portion of his childhood spent on the set of Ghostbusters, watching his Pop at the top of his game crushing one of the most original movies of the 20th Century. Wrapping the trip up down Memory Lane, Jason coyly suggested he being there for the making of the blockbuster-in-the-making, makes him the very first Ghostbusters fan.
Anyone with Hollywood streets smarts knows a message was being delivered within young Reitman’s staked claim. That message was this: whoever hates on Reitman 2.0’s version has to have slime on the brain to complain or disdain the choices made by the director who’s been a franchise fan longer than anyone. Not to mention his old man made the first two movies, which is two more than all our dads combined.
Shrewd move, but is it Max Factor-free?
Now if the idea of Ivan Reitman handing Jason Reitman the keys to one of the most original and wildly lucrative properties put on celluloid sounds like the coolest Take Your Son To Work days ever, that’s because it is. But it’s not the first time a studio has hedged a reboot bet by linking lineage to their picture.
Ready to trade living dead for lycanthropy, The Walking Dead producing duo David Alpert and Robert Kirkman made a bid to get green lit by Universal for their proposed reboot of the John Landis horror/comedy high bar, An American Werewolf In London. Their hook was to keep it a family affair by having Max Landis write and direct while dad John would executive produce. The announcement quickly caused obvious divisive sides throughout social media.
All that bullshit went bye-bye when a “No Shit, Sherlock” brand of scandal proved dire to the sire in House Landis. Women came forward to share similar accounts of emotional abuse and humiliation inflicted into sadistic circus. Not a single person in Hollywood reacted with shock or surprise. Except Max himself. He seemed under the delusion his Landis lineage left him untouchable.
He wasn’t. Until he was. Only now it’s Max’s career that’s untouchable now. Every project in town he’d been attached to in one way or the other has either evaporated or cut ties with a name now bound to be synonymous with creepy sleaze bag. All talks of remaking his dad’s werewolf movie are toast.
This tangent making you uncomfortable, Rothman? Not to worry, old boy. From the kid’s track record, Jason Reitman appears to be surprisingly scandal-free. Not the slightest whiff of assholenish often found in the DNA of Hollywood royalty born. It’s a safe bet Jason Reitman doesn’t have the Max Factor.
This is the key to any sort of success hoped to achieve with this legacy reboot. Just be thankful, Rothman, for whatever coins coffered get offered from the franchise die-hards. Regardless of the posture being made as far from it as possible, be thankful for fans willing to look past the debacle of Feig’s failed reboot. Win or lose on this try, maintain and remain in modesty.
Now, let’s get into the shank of the matter: how to make this next GHOSTBUSTERS the second best movie in the franchise.
While every franchise is different, there are two ironclad rules that apply to every sequel. These two rules are in place to give almost any sequel a fighting chance surviving opening weekend. Every sequel that tried to buck them has bit the dust.
First rule is never wait more than ten years to a sequel. The ideal span is between two, three years. Waiting a decade is doable as long as marketing hangs their hat on the anniversary angle.
Second rule would be never add a bunch of kids for something as transparently greedy and shamelessly lame as the “pass the torch” game. It reeks of desperation and has never worked as a viable way to sustain a franchise full steam ahead.
Now seeing as how by no real fault of your own there, Rothman, the pooch is screwed when it comes to rules one and two. Just as long as this is clear, I do believe it could use some repeating. The new GHOSTBUSTERS will be heading to the box office already with two strikes.
Rothman? Rothman! Sit up straight! Pull it together, man! Who ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost? Say the words, Rothman! Say it! Who ain’t ‘fraid? You! You ain’t ‘fraid! Damn right. That’s the Roth ‘n’ Roll people tell me about and I shrug and take their word for it.
Read this very closely, Rothman. Then read it again: Any hopes you have of getting a clean slate from first movie fans while hooking a whole new generation starts with this simple tip: have the original Ghostbuster’s theme in your movie.
That should be a no brainer. Then again, you’d think it’d be a no-brainer to know not to get some band long past its shelf life like Fall Out Boy (did you pick their name out of a hobo’s hat?) to record a new version. A new, shitty version. Just don’t do it.
Some folks out there are unaware of how Huey Lewis did some busting of his own when he nailed Ray Parker Jr. for how the Ghostbusters theme rips off I Want A New Drug. You need to step up to the plate here, Rothman. Obviously there is still some bad blood between Parker and Lewis as evidenced by Parker now being the one to sue Lewis over an alleged breach of contract on a thirty year non-disclosure agreement about the details of the settlement. Thirty years? Must’ve been a peach of a deal.
Deals are your wheelhouse, Rothman. Might as well call it your deal-house. So get your negotiation swerve on, honcho. Throw however much dough it takes to make it happen. Fans will not forgive being deprived of the original theme again. I cannot stress this enough. Ignoring this warning of putting the original theme in Ghostbusters 3 literally will be at movie’s financial peril.
Just what the Peck I’m talking about.
Now we get to the nitty gritty neighborhood of Make Or Break City. Without this factor from the first movie, it’s guaranteed to be strike three. To connect it will be the difference between a flop or box office hit.
The biggest threat the original Ghostbusters faced off against wasn’t the 40-foot Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It was more horrifying than any form of CGI ghost. When it debuts diabolically on-screen, Peter Venkman must go it alone to thwart its evil intent. The hang dog shows he knows how to bark as he goes toe-to-toe with the Ghostbusters best foe: Walter Peck, EPA.
All colorful whiz-bang-wow VFX ghosts, apparitions, and demigods don’t hold a candle to the very real flesh and blood threat of Walter Peck. The terrific actor William Atherton brings brilliance to the role. Armed with an arsenal of smarm, Atherton has a way of conveying self-satisfied assholeishness like nobody’s business. His performance as the pushy pencil neck is pitch perfect.
Just get a gander at him. Demonic head of red hair and beard. Bulging eyes. Spook house voice. Now that’s what I call frightening.
This is all pretty simple math to pencil. Walter Peck is in first movie. Ghostbusters was a box office smash with an impact on global pop culture not seen since STAR WARS. The other two Ghostbusters movies don’t have the Walter Peck factor. Did either come close to the original’s comedy or cash haul? Of course they didn’t. I rest my case.
Ghostbusters 3 needs the Walter Peck factor if it hopes to succeed pulling in the green. Best recommendation I can give is bring back William Atherton. Or here’s an idea that keeps with the cringe inducing concept of “passing the torch.” Get the factor from an actor playing pencil pushing son, Walter Peck Jr.
I’ll even go you one better. Remember how we last see Walter Peck? Post dropped dollop of Mr. Stay Puft’s guts, he’s drenched in the stuff,. Standing in the creamy street, he follows Movie Law #14: All anguish is to be expressed with arms outstretched, head tossed back, and scream to the sky. Walter’s wail while wallowing in marshmallow hell is that of a man gone insane. Who better to avenge Papa Peck than the little pecker?
Hear that swish? That’s the sound of an all-net idea, pal. And I’m giving it to you on the house. All I ask in return is one thing. If this time instead of the lightning in the bottle you’re after, you catch a fart in a can? There’s not going to be another movie announced. Don’t embarrass yourselves like the celluloid death rattle The Terminator movies became. Remember, if you don’t respect the franchise, neither will the audience. You Sony guys have got to give up the ghost.
See, what I did there? Another jaunty little play on-
Fine, I’ll just get to the capper. Just remember when all the hacks out there start using it in their reviews next year, you know where you read it first.
Saving the day.
Listen, I’m not going to say I’m a hero for helping you here, Rothman. If people are comfortable calling me so? Live and live, I say. Just a guy out here in the trenches. Talent flowing like water from a tap. Who knows more about movies than any asshole who thinks different. Hey, bragging about something doesn’t make any less true.
Oh… there is one last thing, Rothman. A crucial piece parting piece of advice that I almost forgot. Something from the Don’t Let The Same Dog Bite You Twice file. Otherwise as sure as the sky is blue and The Beatles sang Love Me Do, you’ll be condemning this movie to Shitty Part 3 Island, beached in the memory of no one. Right next to PORKY’S REVENGE and SUPERMAN 3.
Read this very very carefully, Rothman. And then read it again:
No matter what. Under. Any. Circumstances…
DO NOT allow yourself to be quoted in regards to the fans, saying, “Fuck ’em.”