The abandoned Naval Air Station South in Weymouth, Mass., isn’t the kind of place you’d want to walk around by yourself, even during the day. Driving through it, there are remnants of a community abandoned for nearly 20 years — the kind of stuff that inexplicably gives me the chills. We pass eerie, boarded-up buildings, a forgotten baseball field made to resemble Fenway Park, and a faded sign for an infirmary. It’s also raining — a lot.
How appropriate, then, that on the outer perimeter of the base, inside a massive hangar, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are quite literally fighting ghosts.
Of course, there’s no real horror on the set of Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig and screenwriter Katie Dippold’s (re)interpretation of the 1984 classic, set to debut July 15. On the contrary, the movie holds all the comedic promise for which its cast and director are famous. Often mistaken for an outright remake, this Ghostbusters is an entirely separate story from the original, albeit with the same goal — to kick phantom butt. In this version, Abby Yates (McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Wiig), and Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) have been friends since high school. Holtzmann’s something of an inventor and Abby became a professor. After Patty Tolan (Jones), an MTA worker, sees a ghost, she joins the crew. Beyond that, all we know about the extremely-under-wraps script is that the big baddie is an evil super genius named Rowan (Neil Casey).
Though the entirety of the naval station would be fitting for just about any cinematic encounter with the spooky, all of today's filming takes place within the hangar. The four women are shooting a fight scene in front of a green screen, which will later become Times Square in Manhattan. McCarthy hangs upside down from wires. As Feig calls “Action!” she swings hilariously left and right, shouting, “Help!” to her fellow Ghostbusters, who are fighting the good fight against the (invisible, pre-CGI) supernatural force on the ground.
According to Feig, this is a movie that “shouldn’t even be happening, because it was laying dormant forever.” He had lunch with Amy Pascal, then chairperson of Sony Motion Pictures, who had wanted someone to take on Ghostbusters for quite some time, but was having trouble finding a director who would be interested. “She was like, ‘Why doesn’t anybody want to do this? This is a great idea for this great franchise,” Feig recalls. He started thinking about what he would do if he were given the job. One day, while taking a morning stroll, the idea occurred to him that if he took on the reboot, he could use it as a vehicle for all the funny women he knows. Pascal’s response? “We’re doing it.”
Sony thought maybe he and Dippold would take all of 2015 to develop the script, but they gave themselves a deadline of releasing it in summer 2016. “So the whole time, [the studio] has just been like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re making Ghostbusters.’”