At Ghost Corps, the Ghostbusters office on the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles, franchise co-creator Ivan Reitman admits the most recent film was a disappointment. And yet the Ghostbusters are not dead, and do not need to be busted themselves. Not by a long shot.
A still from Ghostbusters VR: Now Hiring. All Images: Sony
"We certainly would have loved to have a larger hit," Reitman, who produced the new movie, told us. "But considering the last film was almost 30 years ago, it really did extremely well. I think the film cost too much, frankly, and that's the real issue. I personally had other points of view in terms of where the film should go and it was kind of a continuous conversation with Paul [Feig] about that. But Paul was the filmmaker on this one and he's a very talented director. I wanted to give him enough room to do the film he thought it should be."
Despite the issues with the recent film, Reitman clearly has hope for the franchise's future. In fact, this week sees the release of a brand new comic book series, where the Ghostbusters past and present cross over, as well the first chapter of Ghostbusters VR: Now Hiring, a home VR experience that hits the US PlayStation Store today. It's just the latest example of how the franchise is trying to maintain its popularity and relevance despite the film's disappointment.
"I think Ghostbusters is this wonderful [intellectual property] because it has so many storytelling opportunities," Reitman said. "And it's a particularly good one for VR."
You'll get up close and personal with Slimer in Ghostbusters VR: Now Hiring.
That's presumably because it can put you right in the middle of the ghostbusting action. In Now Hiring, Act 1: Firehouse you are a new recruit who has an appointment to become a Ghostbuster. However, just as you are about to enter the firehouse, Slimer gets loose and it's up to you to strap on a proton pack, grab a ghost trap, and catch him. The experience runs about 10 minutes long and is designed to give the user the control basics for the world and allow them to explore the iconic Ghostbusters HQ. It then ends on a bit of a cliffhanger for the second chapter.
Jake Zim, the SVP of VR for Sony Pictures Entertainment, explained how it will follow the increasingly popular periodic release schedule. "Where we put out chapter one, if people like it and see what they want, then we can add chapter two and keep going," he said. "Ghostbusters is so big you can kind of go all over the place."
And that's exactly the plan. Reitman confirmed that besides this and the comic, development is still moving along on other projects, including multiple new movies.
"We jumped into an animated film [after the last movie] and we are developing live-action films," Reitman said. "I want to bring all these stories together as a universe that makes sense within itself. Part of my job right now is to do that."
He hopes the animated film will be in theatres in either 2019 or 2020 but can't say for sure. "It depends on on how fast we can get it all together," he said. "It's hard to make an animated film." Rather unsurprisingly, Reitman remained tight-lipped about the live-action films.
Yes, you'll get to fire this bad boy in Now Hiring.
Assuming the development of Now Hiring isn't an anomaly, Reitman himself will stay heavily involved; he worked hand-in-hand with Sony's VR team to perfect every detail in Now Hiring.
"For this project he would come to our developer's office down the street and spend time in the headset, essentially editing in-engine, giving a lot of notes, a lot of feedback, and being very critical in the right ways." Zim said. Reitman even suggested the addition of Mooglie, a version of the Ghostbusters logo, to be the guide in Now Hiring, and got Patton Oswalt to voice him.
"VR has always been something I've been interested in as a storyteller," Reitman said. "The rules of VR are quite different in terms of how you use editing, multiple angles, and most important, how you tell the story."
As for where that story could go, Reitman would only say it's original to this medium with plenty of adaptability. "It will go as long as we can figure out ways to change it up and as long as people are interested," he said.
Zim, however, admitted several more chapters are in the works and even offered up a tease. "Ivan knows the entire world and where he wants it to go," Zim said. "Like what happens when you're not a Ghostbuster? If you're on the paranormal side?" That would certainly be a brand new take on Ghostbusters — and maybe just the thing to stop the franchise from becoming a ghost itself.