Does ‘Ghostbusters’ Have What It Takes to Make a Major Franchise?

source: Columbia Pictures
Source: Columbia Pictures

The comedy classic Ghostbusters has celebrated its 30th anniversary this year with a re-release in theaters and excited rumblings (and bummed out grumblings) about a reboot with a female cast. Ghostbusters is a cult classic, beloved for its top-notch cast of some of the best comedians of the 1980s at the height of their fame, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver.

With the renewed interest in the movie as fans fantasize about which powerhouse female comedians would be perfect for busting ghosts while cracking jokes — some names thrown out for the possible starring roles include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes — co-star and co-creator Dan Aykroyd has said that he’d like to see Ghostbusters turned into a big franchise like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Aykroyd can make his vision come true, Ghostbusters fans may have a whole lot more to look forward to than just the long-awaited third movie.

Aykroyd spoke about his desire to grow the Ghostbusters brand while in London promoting his Crystal Head vodka, per The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s beyond just another sequel, a prequel, another TV show. I’m thinking, what does the whole brand mean to Sony? What does Pixar and Star Wars mean to Disney? What does Marvel mean to Fox?” Aykroyd said, adding that the entire team behind Ghostbusters is interested in exploring the franchise for the long haul.

“It’s up on blocks, it needs new electronics, new everything,” he said, comparing the series to the Ghostbusters car, Echo. “That’s what we have to do. The whole vehicle of Ghostbusters has to be rebuilt. That’s the ambitious thinking that’s going on now. Taking on the model of Marvel where we take all of the elements that are in this movie and we put them out there as different ideas.”

What are some of those ideas? Aside from the female-centered reboot, which Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) is rumored to be in talks to direct, Aykroyd said the team is considering “not just another movie or another TV show, but what’s the totality of it? The whole mythology from the beginning of their lives, the end of their lives. Ghostbusters at nine years old, Ghostbusters in high school.” So it sounds like there’s at least one prequel in mind to tell the origin story of the baby Ghostbusters. As for progress on the all-girl version, Aykroyd said that, “We need to write it.”

The fact that the entire team seems to be behind the idea of growing the Ghostbusters world lends some credibility to the idea, but comparing it to a franchise like Marvel seems to be a bit of a stretch. The Marvel comic books offer such a huge breadth of characters and storylines to work with, while Ghostbusters isn’t based in such a rich tradition. A more realistic goal would be to style the movies like one of the many franchises under the Marvel umbrella.

Guardians of the Galaxy in particular would be a good film for the Ghostbusters team to look to. The recent success of Guardians of the Galaxy at the box office has shown that audiences like a comedic superhero-fantasy movie, but Guardians hasn’t yet proven itself as a franchise. Its sequel was announced before the first film was even released, but it remains to be seen how long Marvel can milk those characters for jokes and high-stakes intergalactic battles.

Aside from the first two Ghostbusters movies, the franchise has thus far spawned two cartoon television series, video games, and comic books. Ghostbusters 2 got worse reviews than the first film with critics saying that it lacked the charm of the original, and the third movie has been in the works since 1989, so thus far the whole Ghostbusters-as-franchise thing hasn’t worked out so well. Aykroyd and company have a long way to go to turn Ghostbusters into a successful, wide-reaching film franchise, but that female-led third movie seems like a great place to start.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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