Sony's Tom Rothman on Sexist Critics of Female 'Ghostbusters': "F--- 'Em"

Tom Rothman at Paley IC Summit - H 2015
Courtesy of Luis Marin/The Paley Center for Media

Diversity has never been Hollywood's "strong suit," the exec said, but that needs to change. "Do it or die, because the audience is diverse."

Sony Pictures head Tom Rothman has a message for those who are "pissing and moaning" over the studio's upcoming female Ghostbusters: "You know, f— 'em," he said Friday.

"Everybody says we're making the female Ghostbusters, but I say, 'No, we're making the funny Ghostbusters.' Yes, it happens to be four women," Rothman said.

"It's original. You get pissing and moaning on the Internet — sexist comments – but, you know, f— 'em," he said.

Diversity has never been Hollywood's "strong suit," he added, but that needs to change. "Do it or die, because the audience is diverse."

"I got the old Jewish guys covered," he quipped.

In a free-range conversation at the Paley International Council in New York, he also criticized Donald Trump without naming him, but simply expressing how wrong he feels it is that a presidential candidate wants to build a wall to keep people from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. 

Rothman also said it's wrong to shut out Syrian refugees, and he tied his political positions to Concussion, the upcoming Sony movie about head injuries in the NFL, noting that the hero in the film is an immigrant.

He broached politics again when talking about The Walk, this year's Sony film about a high-wire artist who walks between the two World Trade Center towers.

"That film does something that only movies can do, in that the towers don't exist anymore. They can't exist anymore. But in that film, they do," he said. "Creativity is the best answer to terrorism."

Rothman's remarks came during an on-stage conversation with ESPN anchor Hannah Storm.

In a counterintuitive admission, Rothman complained that going to the movies is too expensive.

Rothman said young people don't find movies as socially relevant as they used to — a rare exception being The Hunger Games franchise — and said they don't like heading to a theater at a time not of their choosing, given all the on-demand alternatives available.

"It's a hike and then linear," he said, before adding: "The most significant change — it's now expensive ... and concessions are incredibly expensive."

Moviegoing used to be "affordable escapism," he lamented.

"It's a branded universe," he said, noting that in the last five years, of the Top 50 live-action films, only 11 percent were original titles, so franchises are still king, hence older ones are being resurrected. 

While Rocky IV was "silly," he hears Creed, from a rival studio, is "terrific."

The Walk is one of the films he is most proud to be associated with in his career, he said, even though It has made just $42 million worldwide since opening Nov. 8 on a budget of $35 million.

"I hope I have the nerve to do it again," he said of making great but risky original movies.