'Ghostbusters' Director Jason Reitman Promises to "Hand the Movie Back to the Fans"

"I'm not making the 'Juno' of 'Ghostbusters' movies,” says the filmmaker.

Jason Reitman wants people to know something about his upcoming Ghostbusters movie: He’s making it for the True Fans. Not fans of Ghostbusters, I hasten to add; instead, he’s apparently aiming it directly at the subset of the movie’s audience that actually believes in a hierarchical structure of fandom that makes such a thing as a “True Fan” (or, for that matter, a “fake fan”) a possibility in the first place.

Talking on the most recent edition of Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast, Reitman went out of his way to reassure those still seemingly traumatized by Paul Feig’s all-female 2016 reboot of the franchise that his movie wouldn’t be anything like that, saying, “I’m not making the Juno of Ghostbusters movies,” referencing his 2007 Ellen Page film centering on a pregnant teenage girl. 

"We are in every way trying to go back to original technique and hand the movie back to the fans," said Reitman, noting that his team painstakingly researched techniques used in the 1984 original film, directed by his father Ivan Reitman, for the movie's first teaser.

Let’s put aside, for a second, the hopefully accidental sexism in the Juno reference, which is as likely to be a reference to the tone of the movie as it is the gender of the protagonists and potential swipe at the Feig movie. Although it’s worth remembering that Juno was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, so maybe a Juno version of the franchise wouldn’t be a bad thing.

For that matter, let’s ignore Reitman’s other comments during the same interview that he “consider[s] myself the first Ghostbusters fan” who “want[s] to make a movie for my fellow Ghostbusters fan,” and instead ask this simple question: Why is Reitman saying this? That the 2016 reboot of the franchise underperformed at the box office is hardly a secret, and so some course correction should be expected. But “hand the movie back to the fans” seems a little over the top, at least.

For one thing, it suggests that Ghostbusters has at some point been taken away, somehow, from the fans, which is clearly untrue; the two original movies remain available to be viewed at any point by anyone who wants to, even if they may not entirely stand up to the nostalgia many have for them in the cold light of day (Ghostbusters II, especially). Even if taking the comment less literally, it’s a curiously gatekeeper-ish concept: When, exactly, was the franchise taken away? How? And from whom?

Was it the 1986 animated TV show The Real Ghostbusters, which took the concept from its live-action roots — and slightly edgy comedy — by transforming the whole thing into a kid-centric sitcom? Was it any of the multiple comic book takes on the idea, from the 1980s Now Comics series based on The Real Ghostbusters to the current IDW comics? Perhaps it was the just-announced Hasbro toy that crosses Ghostbusters with the Transformers property, bringing giant robots into the whole shebang?

Perhaps Feig’s Ghostbusters weren’t the ghoul-finders moviegoers were looking for, but is it really going to be the case that audiences would prefer to see a slavish recreation of a movie from three decades earlier?

After his comments sparked backlash online, Reitman tweeted Wednesday night, "Wo, that came out wrong! I have nothing but admiration for Paul and Leslie and Kate and Melissa and Kristen and the bravery with which they made Ghostbusters 2016. They expanded the universe and made an amazing movie!"

Sony has the new Ghostbusters film dated for July 10, 2020. Hear the chat, below.

Feb. 20, 7:08 p.m. Updated to include Reitman's tweet.