The social media backlash against word that Paul Feig would be directing an all-female version of Ghostbusters was so intense that the filmmaker briefly considered bailing on the reboot.
“In the weeks after the announcement about the movie, I was so inundated with hate, that I almost went, ‘Maybe I should just not do this, maybe this is a bad idea.’ Then you go, ‘Wait, think about,’” Feig told Yahoo at the SXSW Festival, where he’s promoting his new comedy Spy (the writer-director also stopped by our headquarters for a Q&A about his Yahoo Screen original series Other Space).
“The people that reach out to you most vociferously are the haters. This is the downside of the internet: Let’s say you get bombarded by, like, 500 people. Your Twitter feed is going to explode and you’re like, ‘F—k, the whole world’s against me.’ But then you go, ‘Wait, that’s 500 people.’ And you think about that in context of how many people there are. When we were doing Freaks and Geeks, I remember they would go, ‘Every week you’re getting an audience of seven million people.’ And I’d go, ‘Seven million people, that’s huge!’ And they’d go, ‘No, that’s terrible.’
In October it was announced that Feig — whose career was launched as the creator of Freaks and Geeks before he went on to write and direct comedy hits Bridesmaids and The Heat — would helm a female-centric Ghostbusters, to be released in 2016. Feig’s cast of Melissa McCarthy (who headlines Spy), Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones was unveiled in January. Then came this past week’s news that Sony is also planning a new male Ghostbusters, developed by the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and likely to star Channing Tatum.
"Who knew there were so many ghosts to be busted in this world?,” laughed Feig, who said he was unaware that the studio was also planning a separate Ghostbusters reset. “I heard rumblings about it… but it was a surprise. I didn’t know it was real. You just go, ‘That’s an interesting time to announce it.’”
The announcement of the new all-male version also received its fair share of criticism on social media, as well as a cache of think-pieces arguing against it. Feig thinks word of his Ghostbusters drew more hatred, telling Variety it was “some of the most vile, misogynistic s—t I’ve ever seen in my life.”
He admitted that some of the responses he got — assumedly not the sexist ones — made “valid points,” adding “I never want to diminish anybody’s opinion, even if I don’t agree with it, even if I strongly disagree with it… that’s their opinion.
“The nice thing about the internet is that it gives voice to everybody. But at the same time if it clouds your perspective and you start making decisions based on those loud voices, then you will be ground to complete stasis.”
Spy opens June 5. Watch the trailer: