Why the New 'Ghostbusters' Sequel Proves That Secrecy Is the Key(master)

You're making a big movie? That's great—just keep it to yourself


“Ghostbusters … whaddya want?” That’s a more-than-slightly perturbed Janine Melnitz answering the phone in 1984’s Ghostbusters (it also happens to be how I answer any call from an 888 number). And while it may seem like a throwaway line compared to the many quotable phrases from that comedy/sci-fi/horror classic, the disgust and impatience displayed by Annie Potts’ character seems to perfectly encapsulate how Ghostbusters fans have felt for the better part of three decades. That is, until the recent news that Jason Reitman has been secretly working on a new film that will be a sequel to 1989’s Ghostbusters 2.

And before we get to those details, I’d like to attempt a defense of the 2016 Ghostbusters relaunch. I had a good time with it. I liked the new spin and could’ve gone for another few rounds in that world (maybe we still can). But even if you’re like me and enjoyed the new version, chances are you never got the opportunity to relish the fact that the Ghostbusters property was back. Trolling fanboys littered the internet, bitching about childhoods lost, months before the movie even debuted, and when the over-budgeted film didn’t produce at the box office, it seemed as though any hope of more ghost-busting had gone the way of Slimer.
Enter Jason Reitman. That’s right, the son of the original director Ivan Reitman will direct a new film set in the original Ghostbusters universe. The movie aspires to feature the original Ghostbusters acting as mentors to a new generation (though no one named Aykroyd, Murray or Hudson has signed on yet). The new crop they would help usher in is reported to feature two males and two females hovering around the legal drinking age, and an early teaser trailer (I promise it’s legit and not fan-made) even brings back Ecto-1.

As ravenous of a Ghostbusters enthusiast though I may be, the best part of this news is the surprise factor. We can still be shocked by movie announcements! For the last decade, it feels as though every film studio in Hollywood has employed the strategy of making grand proclamations months or even years before pen gets put to paper on a script. Remember Universal’s stab at a “Dark Universe”? When they announced loads of monster movies with huge stars? Angelina Jolie as Bride of Frankenstein! Johnny Depp is the Invisible Man! Jason Momoa is the Creature From the Black Lagoon! (I made the last one up. But you’d see it.) The only problem was all those films relied on Tom Cruise’s The Mummy to deliver everything it didn’t, and next thing you know, an entire series of pictures falls in upon itself like the House of Usher. It seems every week, we hear about potential projects that will eventually end up in an imaginary “What If” Redbox: an R-rated Star Trek, Big Lebowski sequels—and don’t get me started on The Crow.
Thus, I can be very forgiving of news outlets overplaying the whole secrecy angle. All the headlines were “Jason Reitman wrote a Ghostbusters movie in secret.” Ummm … did he write the script in Area 51? Was it typed in some sort of NATO phonetic alphabet? Was his font of choice Wingdings? No, it’s just that he didn’t tell anyone he was doing it. Imagine that. Rather than gush about this cool idea he has for months on end to every outlet on any red carpet, he just sat down with his buddy Gil Kenan and did the work. And when they finished, they went in through the back door at Sony (thank goodness that studio updated their firewall), cemented the contract, and lo and behold: We got a sweet teaser trailer the same day as the announcement. (*Stops typing, runs to the rooftop, bellows: “This is how we should do movies!”*)

Maybe this secrecy fad could become a Hollywood trend? Avengers: Endgame, eyeing the biggest box-office opening ever, reportedly will only feature the first 20 minutes of the film in any of its promotional materials. Netflix regularly sits on new original content, then surprises us with trailers for films like Bird Box within a month of release—hell, sometimes they wait until the actual premiere date before telling us (OK, it was The Cloverfield Paradox, but still). With so many entertainment options at our fingertips at all times, it seems quite ironic that less is more … but isn’t that true of everything in life? No one likes the dude who desperately seeks to be the life of party (I’ve been that guy). We all want to know more about that cool, quiet cat relaxing in the corner (I aspire to be that guy).
Every week, we hear about potential projects that will end up in a “What If” Redbox: an R-rated Star Trek, Big Lebowski sequels—and don’t get me started on The Crow.
Will our beloved franchises continue down this path? What if Star Wars: Episode IX never reveals its title until we see the opening-crawl text? Or if 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong trailers refuse to show the headlining beasts in the cold light of day? I can’t believe I’m getting excited at the prospect of movies not letting me in on the fact that I should be getting excited. Secrets rule!

To be fair, one Ghostbuster didn’t even do that good of a job keeping this new sequel to himself. Dan Aykroyd made appearances last fall intimating that a new story was in the works. Luckily, he’s been saying that everywhere for the better part of the 30 years since Ghostbusters 2 came out, so newsrooms pay him little mind. He’s both a comedic legend and, occasionally, your crazy uncle who goes on about ghosts while sipping on Crystal Head Vodka. But this time, he was on to something—he was possibly in on the secret. And now that it’s out, we can only hope more studios, directors, writers and performers can keep their ideas in the oven until they’re fully baked, ready to be enjoyed. For this Ghostbusters fan hoping for a film that continues the original universe, it’s been a fun week to quote another line from Janine Melnitz: “We got one!”

— Mark Ellis (written in secret at Starbucks)

Related Topics

Explore Categories