Ivan Reitman is still trying to create a Ghostbusters shared universe

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Apr 27, 2017, 10:04 AM EDT (Updated)

Last year, Sony revived the Ghostbusters franchise with a live-action reboot featuring an all-female comedic team and a new story in a continuity completely separate from the original film and its sequel. The hope at the time was that the film would kickstart a new universe of Ghostbusters flicks, including an animated movie and more live-action films featuring different takes on the Ghostbusters team (a new all-male version was discussed as well).

After a build-up punctuated by a misogynistic backlash at the idea of a Ghostbuster squad with no men on it, the film received generally positive reviews, but box-office-wise things weren't all that encouraging. The film earned more than $200 million worldwide, but it didn't hit the estimated $300 million it needed for the studio to break even, and the sequel promised by the film's final teaser was almost immediately in jeopardy.

We haven't heard much about Ghostbusters since last summer, but according to producer Ivan Reitman -- who directed the original two films and remains a kind of steward of the franchise -- the studio isn't giving up. Speaking with io9 recently, Reitman put an optimistic spin on the lukewarm box-office performance.

"We certainly would’ve loved to have a larger hit. But considering the last film was almost 30 years ago, it really did extremely well. I think the film cost too much, frankly, and that’s the real issue. I personally had other points of view in terms of where the film should go and it was kind of a continuous conversation with Paul [Feig] about that. But Paul was the filmmaker on this one and he’s a very talented director. I wanted to give him enough room to do the film he thought it should be."

As for what's next, Reitman confirmed that an animated film is indeed still developing, and it will hopefully be released in two or three years. As for the rest of the franchise, Reitman also confirmed that the idea to keep developing films under a kind of unified tentpole is still very much alive in his mind.

"We jumped into an animated film [after the last movie] and we are developing live-action films. I want to bring all these stories together as a universe that makes sense within itself. Part of my job right now is to do that."

Reitman's determination aside, we don't know at the moment exactly what live-action film might come next, or when we'll hear anything new about it, so the future of Ghostbusters still feels very much like a giant question mark. Decent reviews and its own very devoted fanbase (type "Holtzmann" into Tumblr and you'll see what I mean) notwithstanding, the response to the new film was just plain underwhelming for the studio. Sure, there were a lot of sexist jerks whining about it on the internet, but there were also plenty of people who just didn't feel the need to go see a new Ghostbusters movie when they already had a perfectly good one at home. I enjoyed the film for its cast and their wonderful comedic interplay, but the story didn't feel fresh to me, and I know I'm not alone in that. Even having generally liked this flick, though, I have to say that the idea of a Ghostbusters shared universe still feels like a very forced notion to me.

Reitman seems determined to keep trying, though, so we'll keep you posted on whatever he cooks up for the franchise next.