Screenwriter Katie Dippold gives TheWrap script secrets from Paul Feig‘s comedy reboot
Dippold (pictured below) wrote “The Heat,” which saw Feig direct one of his “Ghostbusters” leading ladies Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock all the way to the bank for a domestic box office take of $160 million in 2013.
It’s no surprise Feig called her again to help update the beloved Bill Murray–Dan Aykroyd movie, which sees McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon tangle with the paranormal on the streets of New York City.
The job was a no-brainer, but not without potential cons, Dippold told TheWrap.
“I just couldn’t say no but I knew it was probably a choice that I could easily regret later. I had a few friends that were like, ‘What are you doing?’” Dippold said. “But it was impossible to say no, because I love ‘Ghostbusters’ so much. It’s everything I enjoy doing as a writer.”
After the project was set up under Amy Pascal‘s eponymous production company at Sony, Feig and Dippold focused on characters before story
“I just kept trying to focus on the joy of the original,” she said. Joy wasn’t the only thing circulating on blogs and social media when the film was announced — both the rebooting of the franchise and its all-female cast inspired a lot of chatter, a decent amount of which was unpleasant.
Backlash is also repeatedly referenced in the film, as the new Ghostbusters try to court public favor by posting videos of the spirits they face off against on YouTube.
“Ain’t no bitches going to bust no ghost,” Wiig reads from a fictional comment that could easily be a direct quote from any number of real ones on the movie’s trailer.
Wiig’s character is a tenure-track physics professor at Columbia University, ashamed of her deep-seated belief in the paranormal until her former partner in crime (McCarthy) pulls her back in when a ghost finally surfaces. For the first two acts, however, the general public and the scientific community (represented entirely by men) don’t buy the ghosts are real.
Wiig’s scientist stresses to no end over their approval — and even does something as reckless as release a ghost from its mechanical container to prove its existence to a famous debunker (played by Murray).
“We wondered, ‘What would it be like today to be a scientist who believes in ghosts, and would that person try to hide it?’” Dippold said.
“It started from there and then I’m certain that everything we were seeing online was seeping in. You write the world that you live in, and at that time we were living in a really tough space.”
Conversations did shift, and reception to the movie was mostly positive. There have been lingering questions, though, like over breakout McKinnon’s engineer character. An oddball who spends most of the film tinkering with proton packs and nuclear cores, many thought she read as lesbian, bisexual or just plain fluid but was noticeably not self-identifying.
“I feel a little weird talking about it without talking about Kate and Paul, the star and the director. But … Im not trying to be coy — the first words I would use to describe that character is ‘outside the box,’” Dippold explained.
“I feel like someone like that would never have any kind of labels. If Kate had a strong opinion and felt her character was fully a lesbian I would’ve said, ‘Great.’ But that character just couldn’t be given a label She’s fully-formed and ahead of all of us,” she concluded.
“Ghostbusters” opens nationwide on Friday.