China, the second largest movie market in the world (and therefore highly enviable for studios with an expensive #Film to release), is looking to ban Ghostbusters from release for its occult themes. It appears the Chinese government believe in ghosts and don’t want to disturb any ancient spectres by releasing a film featuring Slimer.
But Sony is desperate for a Chinese release, because it will give them a huge push in the international box office. Although it’s apparently still reporting a loss, Warcraft was rescued from a terrifying financial cataclysm by the revenue from its Chinese release. Now it’s just a minor flop, not one that will go down in the history books with Battlefield Earth. So, Sony have changed the name from Ghostbusters, which promotes the existence of ghosts and the supernatural, to Super Power Dare Die Team, which doesn’t make a word of sense. I guess they jumbled up a bunch of exciting words in a hat, picked out five at random, and put them together.
Now, a Chinese release might be necessary for Ghostbusters’ success. Despite all the money they must’ve saved by casting women instead of men, the film still cost a whopping $144 million, and there are a number of obstacles standing in the way of the studio making this back.
For starters, it’s facing stiff competition opening against The Secret Life of Pets’ second weekend. Pets has been a surprise smash hit with the largest opening day of all-time for an original film, grossing over $100 million in its opening weekend. I won’t get into it, but I credit the success to the marketing with well-timed releases of trailers and eye-grabbing posters etc. Like I said, I won’t get into it. So, facing this competition won’t help Ghostbusters’ chances of box office glory any more than everyone hating its very existence will (more on that now).
Ghostbusters needs a Chinese release. A lot of western audiences will disregard it like they have since the day it was announced. Over the course of production and marketing, the film has certainly had its share of bad press. The trailer became the most disliked trailer and ninth most disliked video on all of YouTube, a website where you can find a video of a man yanking off his own dead toenail. A lot of the hate wasn’t even because audiences are precious about the original. Some of these negative commenters were just misogynists who couldn’t stand the idea of a female-led tentpole film. If I were Paul Feig, I wouldn’t want these people watching my film anyway.
Positive reviews might boost the film’s chances of success. Critics are now tucking in to a nice plate of their own words as they rave about how wonderful it is, when last year they were outraged at the idea of an all-female ‘busting team. “It’ll never work,” they said. “It’s guaranteed to be terrible,” they said. “It’s amazing,” they’re now saying. “It’s hilarious. It’s such an enjoyable summer flick. You should all go out and watch it.”
However, people can be stubborn. Last year, an all-female Ghostbusters was announced, and they all decided it would be awful and they would not watch it. Now that it’s out and word is spreading that it’s actually good, these people are sticking to their guns.
But the Chinese aren’t stubborn. They’re not precious about the original. They’re terrified of ghosts. And as far as I know, they don’t hate women (although they are very traditional and Asian, so that remains to be seen). This makes them the perfect market for the film to recoup some of its budget because that certainly isn’t happening in America, where the young kids who don’t know any better will be watching The Secret Life of Pets and anyone older still has memories of Bill Murray saying, “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass,” and don’t want them tainted.