Ghostbusters – trailer breakdown with Paul Feig


by Chris Hewitt |
Published on

A few days after the first trailer for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters hit the internet, and got everyone talking for a bunch of different reasons, the international trailer debuted online. Featuring a bunch of different footage, including the walking special effect that is Chris Hemsworth, it also contains quite a few new gags that hint at the tone of Feig’s female-led reboot. So, when we wanted someone to talk us through the trailer's key moments, who were we gonna call? That's right - Paul Feig himself...

30 years ago...


The opening title card got many tongues wagging, as it seemed to place this Ghostbusters into the continuity of the previous Ivan Reitman movies. Not so, says Feig. “Yeah, this is a reboot. The studio felt that they wanted to nod to the audience that we’re not pretending that those other films didn’t exist. We’re not saying, hey, we invented Ghostbusters! We know we didn’t invent Ghostbusters. I wish I could say that. To me, it’s one of the greatest ideas in movie comedy, to have four funny people fight the paranormal with science. That’s why I wanted to do a new one.”

Note also the subtle change from the domestic trailer, which read ‘four scientists saved the world’. As everyone pointed out, Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore wasn’t a scientist, and we’re not entirely sure Dr. Peter Venkman’s qualifications would stand up to much scrutiny either.

Theme From Ghostbusters (Lament)


The trailer begins with a bait and switch, as a very sombre rendition of Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters theme plays over moody images of New York. Not the sort of thing you expect from a comedy. “You know what it was?” says Feig. “We’re all facing this as giant fans of the franchise. When we first heard that piano riff, it was in the context of a different teaser we were all working on at one point. It gave us chills. The minute it came up, it grabs you by the throat. There’s a feeling, let’s start it that way. We’re giving the nod to the previous films. To us, the music showed respect and was a way of sending a chill up and down your spine.”

Logo on the subway


Here we see a classic Ghostbusters logo on a New York subway. Given that this is an origin tale, it’s a fair bet that this won’t appear until very late in the movie. “When you see the film, you’ll understand why that’s up there,” teases Feig.

Introducing Yates


The first new Ghostbuster we see is Abby Yates, played by Feig’s muse, Melissa McCarthy (this is the fourth film they’ve done in a row). “She’s a fringe scientist who’s studying things that regular science doesn’t necessarily think is legitimate.” And if you think that helmet she’s wearing looks familiar, it’s an homage to one worn by Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully in the original film. “Melissa wanted some piece of equipment that’s odd when we first see her,” adds Feig. “We looked around at a bunch of different stuff and got inspired by the original. A funny helmet is always fun.”

The weirdo of the group


The next Ghostbuster we meet is Holtzmann, the team’s inventor, played by SNL star Kate McKinnon. With her goggles, blonde quiff and general air of effortless cool, Holtzmann has already launched a thousand gifs. “She’s the giffiest of all our people,” laughs Feig. “Kate is one of the most inventive comedic actors I’ve ever worked with. We had one character who was the weirdo, and if you know Kate, who I know and love, she’s a weirdo! So it was really fun to let her do her thing.”

Putting up her dukes


Here, we see SNL favourite Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan, a New York subway worker who joins the Ghostbusters. Reaction to this character, based on the first trailer, has been quite incendiary, with some lamenting the fact that this new team of Ghostbusters is composed of three white scientists, while the one African-American character is a subway worker. Jones herself has been quite vocal on Twitter in her defence of Patty and the movie, and last night she threatened to quit Twitter as a result of abuse she’s receiving, prompting Feig to defend his cast. ‘Haters, attack me all you want but when you attack and insult my cast, you’ve crossed the line,' he tweeted. 'Grow up and leave my cast alone’.

Leslie Jones is one of my favourite people on the planet.

That all happened shortly after Empire spoke to Feig for this piece, in which he addressed the casting of Jones as Patty. And he started with something of a surprise. “Actually, when Katie [Dippold, Feig’s co-writer] and I wrote the script, we had written the role with Melissa in mind, but then I thought I’ve seen Melissa play a brash, larger than life character. She’s done it in my movies before!” A big fan of Saturday Night Live, Feig thought of Jones, who’s been a regular on the show since 2014. “She’s one of my favourite people on the planet,” he says. “I don’t normally like comedy that’s big and loud, but she is able to pull that off in a way that feels real and it’s her. And when I make a movie, I want to find the funniest people I know and once I know what’s the funniest thing about them I want that to be the thing that I put on screen and let shine. This is the role that Leslie can shine comedically in. If you’ve ever seen her do stand-up, it’s just who she is. I wanted to unleash Leslie on the public in the same way we unleashed Melissa on the public in Bridesmaids, with a very showy role.”

Paging Dr. Gilbert


Last but not least comes Feig’s Bridesmaids star/writer, Kristen Wiig (the third SNL alum of the quartet) as Dr. Erin Gilbert. Here, she seems buttoned-down and quite stiff. “Kristen’s comedic energy is so internally conflicted and always slightly in turmoil, but always trying to see the positives,” explains Feig. “She, in the movie, is the character that probably goes through the biggest change. She has the most to prove. There are few people funnier than Miss Kristen Wiig. There are few people funnier than the four people in the movie, in my humble opinion.”

No sliming in the library


This appears to be Yates, Gilbert and Holtzmann’s first encounter with a free-floating vapour, a malevolent ectoplasm-spewing monstrosity that, in one fell swoop, seems to pay homage to the Library Ghost of the first film, Vigo the Carpathian, the painting-dwelling bad guy of the second, and the iconic ‘it slimed me’ moment. “It’s funny how some of this stuff just happens. It doesn’t mean you necessarily plan it,” laughs Feig. “We always had written that encounter was going to take place in this haunted mansion. When we were looking for our locations, we found this historic old mansion outside of Boston that was laid out in a way that was perfect for filming. It had this one big library room that seemed to be the perfect place to have this encounter. It was big enough, it was creepy and Gothic-looking, so we set it in there.”

He ain't afraid of no ghost


After the first trailer, some criticism was levelled at the film’s apparent preponderance of CG spectres. “Most of the ghosts in our movie are played by real people who were on the set. That is not a fully CG image,” says Feig of the library ghost. “Basically, we have this new system we use with LED lights, and we put the actor in full costume and make-up and they’re covered with these LED lights that throw light interaction onto the actors and the environment. Then we’re just augmenting with CG to make it a little more spectral. I think some people were accusing it of being full CG. It’s not. I’ve got comedic actors who shine when they’re interacting with actual people. I don’t want them acting with tennis balls. Tennis balls are rarely funny.”

Goggle box


This season’s must-have fashion accessory. “I knew I wanted her to have this very cool, alternative look,” says Feig of Holtzmann’s goggles. “Our costume designer, Jeffrey Kurland’s preliminary designs had her in these very out of the ordinary outfits. I liked how eclectic we were making Holtzmann – to me she’s almost Harpo Marx, who just appropriates all this clothing. You imagine her room is just this enormous pile of clothes she’s found in dumpsters and Goodwill and bought at garage sales. The glasses, I liked the idea of her wearing glasses and Kate liked the idea of having something to play with. When those goggles were brought out that was a home run. She goes through a few different eyewear looks, but that one in the trailer is my favourite look of hers.”

Subway to hell


Here, Patty encounters a series of old, very angry-looking, ghosts on the subway. “I wanted to base this movie as scientifically as possible. That’s what I loved about the first two movies, the science. They were trying to confront the paranormal with science. So we started thinking, what are ghosts, scientifically? They’re the energy of dead people who haven’t gone to the other side or haven’t dissipated, so that to me is what would come back if ghosts were getting energised, if there were something happening that could do that. If you believe in that sort of thing, New York must be filled with the spirits of dead people, so that’s what that seemed more realistic for a ghost story. We’ve got other things in there too, but to me the most interesting thing is that ghosts are dead people who come back… no matter how long ago they died.” Which would explain their funky get-up, at least.

The Holtzmann Wink


This gif-tastic Holtzmann moment, when she winks and then smiles at Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert, has fuelled speculation that Holtzmann and Gilbert may be involved in something truly groundbreaking – a same-sex romance between two women in a giant blockbuster. Feig is aware of the speculation – “Oh, I’ve seen some stuff. I see it all, my friend!” – and won’t be drawn on it. “I love that they’re speculating on all things like that.” Developments later in the trailer would seem to rule out an inter-Ghostbusters romance, but there’s still a chance that Holtzmann could be gay. “Everyone can see the movie and sort it out for themselves,” says Feig.

We need to talk about Kevin


It’s Thor! In an inversion of the dynamic of the original team, who had Annie Potts as their secretary Janine, the female Ghostbusters have a male assistant – Kevin, played in his authentic Aussie by Chris Hemsworth. And as we can see here, Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert is clearly much taken with him. “In my movies I tend to steer away from romance,” says Feig, “when you make movies with women, it feels like they get pigeonholed in that, but there’s no denying that when Chris Hemsworth walked on the set, pretty much every woman on the set lost their mind. It was fun playing with that in the way we did. Kristen wanted to play with that. Is there a romance on the horizon? Who knows?”

Christmas isn't coming


Don’t be fooled by the Christmas tree in the background. This Ghostbusters is not destined to become a festive favourite. “They are eclectic people and live in an eclectic world,” says Feig, simply.



With none of the rumoured cameos from the original Ghostbusters making the trailer, for obvious reasons, it’s up to the appearance of the iconic hearse-turned-Ghostbustermobile, Ecto-1, to hit us in that nostalgic sweet spot. “It was very important to Katie Dippold and I to have all the most iconic things from the original films in,” says Feig. “The first thing Katie said was, as a fan of the film there are some things I’d be bummed and pissed if they weren’t a part of the movie. Right at the top of the movie is Ecto-1. At the same time, we want to make it our own. I have a love of that 70s and 80s big boat car, that period when they were very angular. I’m from Detroit, so it was a Cadillac. It’s a cool look, it’s reminiscent of the original one but it gives it its own feel.”

And if you want to pick up your own Cadillac hearse and pimp your ride? Apparently they go for about $800 on eBay… Ghostbusters accoutrements not included.

"Let's go"


A moment included in both trailers, it sees Gilbert and Yates step on each other’s toes as the Ghostbusters prepare to go into action. Is this an indication that the film will be about a leadership struggle within their ranks? “Sometimes a joke is just a joke,” he laughs. “There’s a lot to see in the movie about dynamics within the team, but basically Melissa is the one who heads it all up.”

Slime time


Another blast from the past, as that old green greedy-guts, Slimer, makes it into the trailer. Feig had once said that Venkman’s nemesis wouldn’t be included, but now he says, “you can’t make Ghostbusters and not have Slimer in there. He was very insistent. But again, the thing with Slimer is we had a fully articulated Slimer puppet we used, and then we augmented him with special effects. He’ll be making some appearances when we’re promoting the movie, I hope.”

Not just a pretty face


“We need to build something to fight these damn ghosts,” says Kevin Exposition. “He’s not just a pretty face,” notes Feig of Hemsworth’s character. “By the end of the movie, there’s quite a bit that Kevin does.” And here, we see him ride the new vehicle, Ecto-2. Yes, it’s just a bike. “One of the big things with the Ghostbusters is that they don’t really have much money, so everything they have they’re making,” he adds. “They’re like a garage band of ghost hunters, that feels more real to me. Everything they get is scavenged and found behind laboratories.”

Packed with proton


In a neat burst of shots, we see the Ghostbusters’ new proton packs, plus a few cool variations on their weapons, including proton pistols, and a sequence where McCarthy’s Yates takes on ghosts in hand-to-hand combat. “For me, it was very important. You can only watch someone firing a proton wand so many times before you’ve seen that enough. Holtzmann is designing a lot of equipment for them. I’m a huge hardware geek and always have been. That was one of the first things that drew me to this, that we could invent a bunch of new technology for it.”

Panic at the disco


In this sequence, we see the team take on a winged demon that’s interrupted a gig – at Ozzyfest, no less, suggesting that Ozzy Osbourne himself may make a cameo appearance – by (fake) rock band, Beasts Of Mayhem. “It’s a big sequence,” says Feig. “I like the idea of them fighting ghosts in public. There’s no more public place than during a rock concert. The band have very fun songs that were written for them by my composer, Teddy Shapiro.”

Taking a dive


In an attempt to follow Yates’ lead and crowd-surf her way towards the ghosts, Jones’ Patty takes a serious tumble. “I don’t know if it was a race thing or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell,” she says, in a line that could be aimed at the movie’s critics. “I do comedy so nobody wants to watch me make a straight action scene,” says Feig. “So it’s fun to find where all the jokes are. Where are the funny things that can happen? Where are the mishaps? A funny thing is people being brought back down to earth because they are human but they’re trying to be superhuman.”

Times Square - time travel?


A series of floating spooks and ghostly figures on stilts descend upon Times Square. No, it’s not Tim Burton and his pals on a night out, but quite possibly a shot from the film’s huge climax. Intriguingly, as the Ghostbusters walk into the heart of Times Square, they seem to enter a timewarp, with modern-day giant screens giving way to adverts – Taxi Driver! Boris Karloff’s Snake People! – that suggest our heroes could be entering New York circa 1975. So, is time travel involved? “I don’t want to give anything away,” straight bats Feig. “Lots of things happen to New York when there’s a ghost attack going on. A lot of surprises are coming your way. Yes, there’s a shout-out to Taxi Driver, and a big Twinkie too.”

Graphic design


As the trailer comes to a close, Kevin surprises his bosses with a decidedly non-PC take on the classic Ghostbusters logo. Remember, folks – it’s Ghostbusters, not Ghostbustiers. “We liked to play with what people’s expectations were when they first heard this movie was going to be filled with women,” laughs Feig. “I liked the idea that Kevin is basically interpreting that in the way other people might have misinterpreted it.”

And, in a hot scoop that should guarantee us the Pulitzer any second now, Feig confirms that he drew that logo himself. “Let it be known that I’m not above fan art,” he says. So, does it have pride of place in his office? “I don’t know where it went. I gotta get the original back!”

Ghostbusters is released in cinemas on July 15.

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