What Happens If ‘Ghostbusters’ Is Actually Awful?
That’s not rhetorical, I seriously don’t know at this point.
Or how Ghostbusters can Save Spider-Man!
Sony Pictures, Paul Feig, and the cast have fully entrenched themselves in the position that anyone critical of them or this film must be a misogynistic, basement-dwelling, forty year old, friendless virgin. That’s some powerful conviction there. It’s actually encouraging that they feel so strongly about the final product and are willing to make such a colossally huge bet on it being a winner. I see that as great news.
But what if they’re wrong? What if reviewers, male and female, professional and amateur, openly and without hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, overwhelmingly pan this film? And throughout this piece, when I speak of quality, please note that I am speaking of the abstract “goodness” of the film, and not metrics such as box office performance. A good film can bomb at the box office, and a terrible film can earn a billion dollars, so I view that as a meaningless measurement.
If Ghostbusters is an unqualified failure of filmmaking, Sony and Co. haven’t left themselves a leg to stand on. Will there be an apology tour? Will there be any public statements at all? Will the executives involved get fired? Will the creatives involved hide in shame until the storm passes?
Just consider all of the goodwill that this coordinated quasi-pseudo-marketing campaign centered on insults and mudslinging has destroyed. They are burning bridges with potential theater-goers like a childless Cersei Lannister. And I don’t just mean this film, I mean Sony Pictures Entertainment as a company.
This company has repeatedly screamed “Come at me, bro!” to the entirety of the Internet. Let that sink in for a moment. So far, no one has seen the film, so we’re stuck in a holding pattern. Either it will be better than expected, and vindicate the studio and its cast and crew, allowing them a few weeks of gloating press tours.
But what if the other shoe drops, and it is terrible? Then what?
Could the put-upon proletariat of the theater-going public, now vindicated and emboldened, destroy this studio? It wouldn’t be as hard as you’d think.
Skyfall is the only film Sony has released to gross $1 Billion dollars in over ten years. They release between 10–40 films a year. One out of their last… Hmm… One film out of Sony’s entire catalog has ever grossed a billion dollars. Disney has released four separate billion dollar grossing films in the past two years, just for comparison. Like I said, box office returns aren’t a true measurement of quality, I’m not trying to intimate that Disney films are better than Sony films because of box office numbers. (But they are.) My point is simply that Sony is not a major player in Hollywood. It doesn’t have much going for it. Sony has been the market leader (in domestic box office dollars) four times in the past sixteen years. Meanwhile, Disney, Fox, Warners, and Universal are growing more and more powerful, relegating Sony and Paramount to a second tier within the big six studios.
Sony’s upcoming slate isn’t very promising, either. Highlights include Sausage Party, The Magnificent Seven (remake of a classic, what could go wrong?), Inferno (Robert Langdon rides again!), Passengers, The Dark Tower, and a full year away, Spider-Man Homecoming.
Lowlights include Underworld Part 80, Resident Evil Part 82, Smurfs Again, Bad Boys 3, and Jumanji (because defiling the past is all they know).
So, let’s suppose that Ghostbusters is an unmitigated disaster and Sony has to face the wrath of the Internet. Because, when you generalize that everyone hates your movie because they’re all the scum of the earth, that’s just what you get. Anyway, the movie going public could strangle the life out of this company if they chose to. An organized boycott, calling for people to avoid the two or three maybe good movies they’re working on could potentially cripple them.
But no one is going to be boycotting Spider-Man, right? Perhaps they ought to. If Sony were faced with a decision, say, sell all Marvel characters back to Marvel/Disney permanently in order to stay in business, that is something that I believe most of the Internet would consider worth boycotting Spider-Man for.
That is probably the best case scenario, since Sony execs have refuted the idea of any of their entertainment divisions ever being put up for sale. The studio would probably fold and rights to their catalog retained before they’d ever sell everything. But if the price was right to get Spider-Man back to Marvel, that could be a very good best case scenario.
I’m not usually one to call for boycotts, I just like the idea of forcing their hand to sell Spider-Man. A boycott to express anger, righteous or otherwise, is usually just pitiful. But a boycott with a singular concrete goal that would resolve it, that feels different to me. Useful, even.
Would a boycott of Sony Pictures be called for should Ghostbusters turn out to be a disaster? If not, what should Sony execs, Paul Feig, and the cast say or do in order to appease the wrath they will undoubtedly face?
Given the amount of inflammatory rhetoric Sony and the media at large have been propagating surrounding the misogyny angle, and how offensive and out of touch they have seemed while doing it, what would the appropriate reaction be if the Internet is vindicated? I genuinely want to know, and can’t wait to find out.
The one thing I know for sure, is that no matter whether the film is good or not, the next few months are going to be extremely entertaining. And I don’t even have to pay for a ticket… it’ll all be happening live on the Internet.