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For a movie that reinvents a fan-favorite franchise by gender-flipping the roles and starting over, the first trailer for Sony’s Ghostbusters seemed especially invested in reminding everyone about the original incarnation — and that could be a problem when it comes to winning over audiences to the new crew.
It’s strange to consider, but the Ghostbusters trailer actually had more explicit call-outs to the original movie than the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — a continuation of the original trilogy — had to earlier Star Wars movies.
Both trailers shared music with their forerunners, and shots of familiar equipment (The Force Awakens: lightsabers, Stormtrooper helmets; Ghostbusters: proton packs, proton guns, the brain-monitoring helmet worn by Rick Moranis/Melissa McCarthy) and vehicles (The Millennium Falcon, Ecto-1), and both ended with the beloved logos. But Ghostbusters also featured a brief glimpse of a character from the original movie (Slimer, at 1:36), and, most explicitly of all, confusing opening text that references the four scientists from 30 years ago who saved New York.
“This summer, a new team will answer the call,” the text finishes, but the meaning is clear: It’s just like the original really. It doesn’t help that the scene immediately following is only a mild variation on the “The ghost looks peaceful — oh no, it’s a monster” library ghost from the original movie with added puking:
It’s an unusually defensive stance for the trailer to take. Perhaps it was a pre-emptive response to the fans who were already vocally opposed to even the idea of a Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, an attempt to show them that nothing had changed and it was still the franchise that they loved.
Even worse, when you strip away convincing people that this is, indeed, a Ghostbusters movie, there’s not much left in the trailer to actually reveal what to expect from the finished movie. Kate McKinnon steals the scene every time she appears with just a lick, wink or a look — which is good, because she only gets one line in the entire trailer — and Leslie Jones is winningly frantic, but both Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig are wasted by being left to carry a lot of expeditionary weight that really isn’t necessary in the grand scheme of things; the movie’s gimmick is right there in its title. Instead of telling us that there’s increased paranormal activity or that these people are the best equipped to handle it, aren’t there better ways to introduce us to the characters?
There’s more than enough time to correct this, and it’s not as if an underwhelming trailer dooms a movie in any appreciable manner: Marvel’s Ant-Man had a similarly underwhelming first trailer that didn’t really relate to the finished pic’s tone, after all, while Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has moved through a number of tones and sales pitches in its multiple trailers to date in an attempt to find the best way to promote the film to the masses.
In terms of making a bold first impression, however, the new Ghostbusters has stumbled out of the gate, which might make it more difficult to convince skeptics of its value by the time the movie arrives in theaters July 15. Let’s hope for a better second trailer, and sooner rather than later.
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