Ivan Reitman Says 'Ghostbusters' Backlash Isn't Sexist 

The director of the the original 'Ghostbusters' (and producer of the new one) believes generational nostalgia is to blame. 

Getty Images / Rich Polk

Ivan Reitman can be considered a godfather of the Ghostbusters franchise, and on Wednesday, he oversaw a special event promoting the long-awaited next chapter of the action comedy.

The filmmaker attended a special preview of “The Ghostbusters Experience” at Madame Tussauds in New York City on Thursday, and Inverse caught up with him to talk about the future of the revived franchise. It’s been a rocky road for the Paul Feig-directed reboot, which swaps in an all-female Ghostbusting roster for the original, Bill Murray-led cast. Reitman had some thoughts about the bizarre negative attention it has attracted from angry fans.

“I don’t think it’s sexism that’s been the major problem,” Reitman told Inverse, “I think it’s more people of your age [30-somethings] who watched the movie when they were 8 or 9 and it became this formative cinematic experience for kids. And fortunately and as a tribute, I take it as a compliment, the film has held on for these 30-odd years since [old fans] have seen it. So, there’s some trepidation in remaking a film like this. You don’t want to remake The Wizard of Oz. And there’s something about Ghostbusters that felt that way.”

Like, Melissa McCarthy, Reitman didn’t love the first trailer for the new movie. But still believes everyone will be won over once they see the film anyway. “It wasn’t a great trailer,” he said. “But it wasn’t the worst trailer you ever saw…but there’s no way a minute and a half of new characters and new situations could ever replace this formative event.”

Ivan Reitman is a producer of the new 'Ghostbusters'

Reitman explained part of why all the Ghostbusters films work is because he himself was both a “horror and comedy fan,” making that particular blend of genres somewhat unique to the mid-‘80s hit. The last few years has seen Ghostbustersbecome an important nostalgia point for kids raised in that era, even though the original film was a decidedly adult science-fiction comedy telling.

“Children are pretty afraid of ghosts…and this taught you not to be afraid of those unknown things,” he said. “No one really dies in the movie and even though it’s scary, because of the comedy and the particular nature of the Ghostbusters, it’s fear that’s overcome. And that’s a valuable lesson for children.”

Reitman on the set of the first 'Ghostbusters'

Ghosbusters, then, is really about overcoming your fear of what scares you — even if that fear is connected to a remake of a film that can obviously star any person (or ghost) of any gender. When Reitman was asked, his one message to fans of the original film on how to feel about the new film, he responded quickly:

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “It’s really good. And it’s really funny.”