Paul Feig Still Thinks the Female-Lead ‘Ghostbusters’ Backlash Had to Do With 2016 Election

Filmmaker thinks his remake was “intertwined” with Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Four years after his “Ghostbusters” remake with a female-lead cast flopped at the box office, Paul Feig still believes that the backlash the film spawned had to do with the larger political and cultural trends surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

In an interview Friday with SiriusXM, Feig noted that Donald Trump went on the attack against the film in January 2015 via an Instagram video posted months before he announced his candidacy for the White House. “They’re remaking Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford–you can’t do that!” Trump said in a rant that would echo many of his campaign speeches. “And now they’re making Ghostbusters with only women. What’s going on?!”

“I think some really brilliant author…needs to write a book about 2016 and how intertwined we were with Hillary [Clinton] and the anti-Hillary movement,” Feig said. “Everyone was at a boiling point. I don’t know if it was having an African American president for eight years that they were teed up, they were just ready to explode.”

He went on, “It’s crazy how people got nuts about women trying to be empowered or be in positions they weren’t normally in, and it was an ugly, ugly year.”

“Ghostbusters” became a cultural third rail in the summer 0f 2016, with critics of the film being accused of sexism, while stars of the film like Leslie Jones received online harassment in the weeks leading up to the film’s release. Ultimately, the film — which also starred Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig — failed to turn a profit for Sony Pictures, grossing $229 million at the global box office against a $144 million budget before marketing costs. Although reception for the film was solid with a 74% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore, “Ghostbusters” found itself losing family audiences and sci-fi fans to better-received films in theaters like “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Star Trek: Beyond.”

While the reboot may have gone bust, Sony’s going to give the franchise another chance with “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” a direct sequel to the first two “Ghostbusters” films. It will see the original male cast reunite in a story about a family that moves to Kansas and discovers their connection to the Ghostbusters when a series of earthquakes hit their new home. The film was set to be released in July but was moved to March 5, 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch Feig’s remarks in the clip above.