During a recent interview with IGN, director Paul Feig opened up on the hate for the first trailer for Ghostbusters, and the negative reaction to the movie itself:
On preparing the first trailer: “It was very interesting because we were early enough in the process where we didn’t have hardly any VFX we could show, we were very early in the process. So we had developed that one big shot of Time Square – we originally had a teaser trailer we were going to put out on the front of Star Wars, and it was really great but it was very… we decided to take a tone that was very serious, just to throw people off a little bit. And then at the last we all kind of decided ‘Do we want to go out with that?’ So we pulled it back, but we had developed that one shot of Time Square for it, but even at that I didn’t think it was refined yet – I wanted to keep working on it.
So when we went and did this one we had those shots so we put them in, but there was nervousness at the studio. They do a lot of research and testing of things and what their testing was finding that people were very confused, like ‘Is it a new movie? Is it not? Is it a sequel? Is it not?’ And so there is a lot of stuff that I personally felt they put a little too much worry into. ‘We have to connect it to the old ones somehow.’ And so that’s when they came up with the idea of the 30-years ago’ which I was always kind of nervous about, because I’m like ‘People are going to think this is a sequel if you do this and I don’t want that out there because I don’t want to misrepresent the movie.’ So they went with it and they piled in a lot of the jokes, but we didn’t have the effects and stuff.”
On the hatred for the trailer: “I’m not ashamed of that trailer at all – I was happy with it knowing what we had at the moment. And what we did is we did a big screening of it. We had all the Ghostheads kind of from all over the country come in so everybody came in their outfits, you know, the hardcore fans. And we premiered it for them and they went crazy for it – standing ovation, and they’re chanting ‘See it again! See it again!’ So it was like we walked out of there thinking ‘Oh good, for a first trailer we’re actually pretty good.’ And honestly the first wave of response was amazing. But as I found on the internet what happens is the first wave is always amazing. Then it takes a day. And then the second wave comes in and that’s when it disseminates out to either haters, or the sceptical, or people who are just mad that we’re doing it. And then quickly I saw the dislike numbers were going up very fast. It was this thing where you were like… plenty of people I’m sure didn’t like it and I completely get that. But this seemed disproportionately high and fast going up. And I know that there’s a lot of multiple accounts from the same people doing. it. And it also got embedded into fan sites that were gunning for it anyway. So it became sport to kind of drive it up.
It was a bummer… but if you want to look glass half-full, we’re also the most liked. If you look at the number of likes compared to other trailers, so OK, we’ll take that one little victory. But I get it. Here’s the thing. Being on camera it’s nice I can say this because I do these print interviews and they always pull one part of my quote out. I’ve said from day one – I get that there is a bunch of people who just are trepidatious, nervous, mad that we’re doing a reboot. Or touching this at all. And I completely get that – those people, I get that, I hear you, I would be nervous too if I didn’t know what I was doing with it. And then there was the wave who just hated that it was women. And that to me is the non-starter. But that was a part of the group – its wasn’t everybody. Everybody on the internet is painting it like I have been saying ‘If you don’t like it, you’re against women.’ I’ve never said that, ever. They take the quotes and they pull one part of the quote. So I understand – I completely get why people are nervous, so you just go… all I can ask is please just judge the movie on its own merits. Don’t judge it off a trailer.
I don’t fault anybody for judging something of a trailer because that’s all they can watch and a trailer is supposed to be great. My problem with my movies in general is they just don’t trailer well. They never have if you look at all my trailers, because my comedy going back to our first thing, is behavioural, it’s very much about you have to get to know the characters and then in the context of knowing those characters that stuff becomes funny because what they do is… what studios will do is, from our test screenings, the biggest jokes that destroy they’ll go ‘Well let’s put all those in.’ But those jokes destroy because there’s a build-up to them.”
On knowing your audience: “As a filmmaker in general, but especially as a comedy filmmaker, here’s how I break down what you have with an audience. There are two scenarios. One scenario is you are in a restaurant with all of your friends around a table. You’ve known these people forever, and you are having the time of your life because you are telling stories and cracking each other up because Bill told a story about how he yelled at somebody at work, and you’re like ‘Oh my god it’s so funny because Bill’s the most meek guy in the world, but the fact that he got so mad that’s so hilarious.’ And somebody else is telling the story like that. And you’re just going bananas and you walk away from that evening going ‘That was so much fun – I’ve got to do that again.’
Scenario number two – you’re sitting next to that table of people trying to have a nice dinner and they’re just loud and obnoxious and they’re telling stories and you’re like ‘Why are they all laughing at that – that’s not funny – that’s wasn’t… there’s no punchline on that.’ And that’s because you have no investment in those people. And basically as a comedy director you’ve got to seat the audience at that table and within a minute basically, let them know all of those people so then they go ‘Oh my god, it is funny that that person’s… oh that’s funny I know that person.’ You’re invested in those people. And what a trailer does a lot of times is you’re just the guy sitting at the table next to it going ‘I don’t know, that didn’t seem very funny.’ It’s not an excuse because there are some trailers that are hilarious. And sometimes you might sit next to a table-full of comedians who are just telling the greatest stories in the world that you don’t have to know anything about and you go like ‘They’re funny.’ It’s just my style of filmmaking, you’ve got to know the people to really start laughing with them.”