“Ghostbusters” Backlash & Internet Trolling Is Wake-Up Call For Lazy Hollywood

Ghostbusters’ stars might have faced the most hideous hatred from internet trolls for simply being women but perhaps gender isn’t the real problem. Hollywood has become too lazy. The ideas machine has run so dry, changing an iconic character’s sex is deemed a piece of originality.

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Leslie Jones, the comedian, actor and one part of the all-female Ghostbusters, has quit Twitter because of the hideous abuse she has faced simply for starring in a movie. Singled out – partly because of her gender, partly because of the colour of her skin, mostly because she followed her dream of acting – Jones faced the brunt of the online abuse levelled at Ghostbusters’ mere existence. The fact the film had received thousands of 1 out of 10 ratings on IMDB before people had even seen it highlights a unique kind of hatred. Bitterness targeted at a film’s brand image without any care of its qualities as a cinematic experience.

"Ghostbusters" Backlash & Internet Trolling Is Wake-Up Call For Lazy Hollywood

The Guardian talks about “fan entitlement” in its article on the Ghostbusters trolls.

I feel for Jones. Internet trolls are truly horrible. The anonymity of the internet has given its users carte blanche to express their freedom of speech with no regard for a person’s feelings or the consequences of their actions. With no authorship the troll has no sense of guilt. They detach themselves from their nefarious bahaviour. Their kick becomes the hurt they see from their targets. It’s spineless bullying.

Yet, behind the aesthetics of this internet carnage is perhaps a sign of boredom. That we’ve become so sick of Hollywood regurgitating itself the Ghostbusters reboot gave us something to shout at. Fans of the original bemoaned the fact the leads had enjoyed a sort of gender reassignment. Instead of criticising Hollywood for taking a great piece of 1980s movie real estate and churning it out to make a fast buck, the film’s critics wanted to be more petty. It’s not the fact the main cast are female, the problem with the reboot is that it exists at all.

"Ghostbusters" Backlash & Internet Trolling Is Wake-Up Call For Lazy Hollywood

A clearly saddened Leslie Jones reacts to the Twitter trolls.

We’re sick of Hollywood being so predictable. From its superhero movies following the same story arcs to so-called original films manufactured through testing to increase their franchise potential, Hollywood isn’t in the business of making films any more, it’s in the remake market. It’s not necessarily because of a lack of good, original ideas – just see what America’s independent industry turns out – but a disdain for risk. It makes business sense but audiences ultimately suffer.

Ghostbusters won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In fact, the frenzied reaction to the film’s initial promotion and continued animosity levelled at it since release has, perversely, emboldened Hollywood’s studios to continue what they’re doing. Jones’ personal anguish might merit a few industry bods to politely chastise the trolls but behind the sentiment they’re rubbing their hands together at all that delicious free viral publicity.

Words by Dan Stephens

Dan Stephens
About the Author
Dan Stephens is the founder and editor of Top 10 Films. He's usually pondering his next list, often inspired by his adoration for 1980s Hollywood, a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    Haven’t seen the film yet but know the hate-filled crap that the actors have had to put up with is wrong. I like your take on this internet phenomenon.

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    Angela Reply

    It’s horrid what happened to Jones. The whole thing got out of hand. But these are people hiding behind anonymity and egged on by guy like that yianopolis or whatever he’s called. I agree with you, part of the problem is the reliance on old material and the lack of fresh ideas.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Well, we might be sick of what Hollywood churns out but we have no one to blame but ourselves. There are plenty of original films that get released and almost none of them do well. The reason, at least the way I see it, is that piracy makes movies so accessible now that people don’t feel the need to spend $15.00 on a romantic comedy or a court room drama. Look at the top ten films of the year so far. You basically have talking animals and super hero films at the top. These are easy sells and people are willing to spend money and lots of it on brands they know. But films that are not demanded to be seen on the big screen are now failing and failing at alarming rates. Spielberg predicted this years ago. He said that Hollywood was going to go bust in the near future. I don’t have the quote verbatim but he basically said there would no longer be mid grossing films. Gone would be the days of the 100-200 million dollar grossing films. You’d either have your 300 million dollar films or you’d have films that kind of fail. And his vision is proving to be true. I’m not saying all of this because I have an answer but I did have an email conversation with Brad Fuller (Platinum Dunes producer) a few years ago and he told me that the reason horror was in so much trouble is because the home video market was basically non existent now. Films like Friday the 13th nd Texas Chainsaw Massacre could make it profitable for them once they hit BR or DVD. That’s gone. So now, studios are much more confident in making films with brand recognition than they are an original story. Look at Star Trek. Paramount spends 200 million dollars on those films and the ROI is slim. But why do they do it? Because they are hoping there will be enough of an international increase to justify the budgets and because Trekkies are still a voice to be heard. So yes, it seems like Hollywood is void of ideas. But I don’t think that is the case. It’s just too much of a gamble now, and usually a losing proposition to make a big budget film when it is an original property.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Thanks for commenting Dan and very interesting comments. You can’t blame an industry from seeking profits. It feels transitional right now. Studios are trying to work out how best to sell their movies in a market where streaming through Netflix and the like is affecting how we see movies and how we are willing to spend money on them. I’d like to think the “home video” market as it is today – ie. Not on physical media – will enable more original ideas the platform to get seen.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Just as a follow up, it annoys me sometimes when I hear people say that certain films are cash grabs. A cash grab implies that the film is thrown together in the basement of a studio, they hire cheap help and then throw it into the market and hope to make some money. But when you have films taking anywhere from 6 months to 18 months to make, I don’t believe anything is strictly done with that kind of reckless abandon. Films take time, they take a labour of love and it takes the efforts of 1000’s of people. And the latest Pixar film isn’t made so that it can feed the starving babies in Africa, it’s made so Disney’s stock can rise and the CEO’s and shareholders can buy their next yacht. All films are made so that they can make money. Hollywood is a business and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. Again, just to re-itterate, I don’t have the answers, not in the slightest. But I do know that when Hollywood will tell you that everything is just fine with their product and that they had a record year, things aren’t exactly as they seem.

    For example: Maybe some of this information is stuff you already know but I was researching Frozen’s box office and then checked the DVD and BR sales. It astonished me. Frozen sold 16.8 million HV’s. Those numbers are unheard of in 2016. So this got me curious. What are some of the biggest combined numbers for different films? Take a look at some of these numbers. And when you do, you can see why some of these blockbusters have such massive budgets. These are just random films and random film series, add whatever you feel like adding.

    Now keep in mind, these numbers that are about to be posted are just for HV grosses in North America. The sales in foreign markets are probably huge as well.

    First up let’s look at Twilight. Large grosses, we all know this. But check this out:

    Total budget for the 5 films (without marketing of course): 400 million
    Total WW gross for the 5 films: 3.34 billion
    Total gross for HV sales in NA: 944 million

    So the total gross for the films when you add all the revenue from theater and NA HV is 4.284 billion on a budget of 400 million.

    Harry Potter:

    Total budget for 8 films: 1.4 billion
    Total WW gross for the 8 films: 7.72 billion
    Total gross for HV sales in NA: sales are not completely reported before Goblet of fire, but starting with Goblet of fire (which earned 545 million in HV sales…..no that is not a misprint) the total sales are 1.3 billion. Assuming that the three films before Goblet were also massive, add another billion minimum to the sales and you have a total of 2.3 billion in sales. This means the total sales are 10 billion on a budget of 1.4 billion

    Pirates of the Caribbean:

    Total budget for 4 films: 915 milliion
    Total WW gross for the 4 films: 3.73 billion
    Total gross in HV sales in NA (figures for the first are incomplete): 728 million, with the first two selling more than 300 million, being conservative, say the original sold 250 million, then you have sales of 978 million. This means the total sales combined are 4.7 billion on a 915 million dollar budget.

    Transformers:

    Total budget on 4 films: 760 mill
    Total WW gross: 3.76 billion
    Total HV sales in NA: 743 million. This is a total combined gross of 4.5 billion on a budget of 760 million.

    The Dark Knight Trilogy:

    Total budget on three films: 585 mill
    Total WW gross for three films: 2.46 billion
    Total HV sales: 466 mill for the two sequels, and there is only 75 million in sales reported for BB, but the numbers are incomplete before 2006. So assuming there was at least 150 mill for BB, total sales are 610 mill. Total combined sales of 3.07 billion on a budget of 585 mill.

    You can keep going and do it with any series of films or just a singular entity. The point is, HV sales, at least up until about 2013, were massive and they added so much to the overall profit of films. This market has all but dried up.
    (All data is compiled from boxofficemojo.com and the-numbers.com)

    So now when you see that films like Jurassic World has made 1.6 billion or that Avengers has made about the same, that looks good, but the sales are no longer there on HV. And the budgets are so ridiculous now that you almost need these crazy grosses just to make some kind of profit. So even though Hollywood claims record breaking grosses, they don’t tell you that they have to spend way more now to make what they do and they don’t have that ancillary market to make up for poor sales at the box office.

    Again, I don’t have any answers, I just thought I’d point a few things out. Hollywood, imo, is going to take less and less chances in the future because basically, people will pay for spectacle but not for substance. That’s how I see it.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Fascinating stats Dan. Thanks for this. It will be interesting to see how the market adapts to way we consume media nowadays – with online streaming in addition to the fact we’re now even more well-equipped at home to recreate the “theatrical” experience – ie. big screen TVs and surround sound. There’s nothing that equates to watching a film in the cinema but you can turn the argument around and say to exhibitors – you have to get us back in your seats. They can begin by lowering their prices but this needs to be supported by the Studios as margins on ticket prices are already tiny.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Now you bring up a whole other topic. I won’t go crazy with detail like the last post but the ticket prices are, as you said, way too high. They are obviously doing this to compensate for a decline in attendance. On opening night here for Ghostbusters, they had it playing in regular 2D format for three shows. Everything else was IMAX 3D or AVX, the cheapest ticket was $16.00. And they wonder why people forgo the theater and just wait a week to watch it illegally. I agree with you that if they brought the prices down, I think more people would go to the theater. But if you have a family of four and you are spending $50-60 just on tickets, it quickly becomes unaffordable. I don’t mind paying $10.00 a ticket, but when the average price in Toronto is about $14.00, even I, as much as I love movies, simply will not bend over to their extortion. I’m a single male, make above average money for a Canadian and I have a good amount of disposable income. I used to go to the theater about 100 times a year. Now that is cut in half. And it’s all about price. So I am with you. They are pricing themselves out of the budget of most people.

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