Ghostbusters: The Video Game - Interview
Ernie "Winston Zeddemore" Hudson puts down his proton pack long enough to tell us about his new game.
Ghostbusters was a sensation when it was released in the summer of 1984, taking in well over $200 million at the box office in the US alone and winning millions of die-hard fans around the world.
The film was followed by a sequel, Ghostbusters II, almost exactly five years later, in June 1989. But while Ghostbusters II made even more money for then-new parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment, there was a sense among many that writers Dan "Dr Ray Stanz" Aykroyd and Harold "Dr Egon Spengler" Ramis had failed to be daring enough with the franchise. Now, nearly 20 years on, the pair is getting another shot.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game has seen its share of drama over the past year or so. Early in 2007 a developer named ZootFly surprised everyone with an unsanctioned demo that popped up on YouTube. That version went no further, but license holder Vivendi did bring in Terminal Reality to work on an official game based on the popular films. Better yet, Aykroyd and Ramis were tapped to handle the script of what it turns out is actually the official next instalment in the series.
Things got really messy this July, though, when Activision and Blizzard finalized their much-touted merger. Among the collatoral damage was Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which was rumoured to be canned. Reports since the talk of the cancellation of the game have confirmed that Ghostbusters is fine, a Sierra representative telling GameSpot recently that the game is definitely still coming out.
Someone who will be relieved to hear that is Ernie Hudson. As one of the original four Ghostbusters, Hudson has a long history with the franchise. Since playing Winston Zeddemore in the two films, the 63-year-old actor has kept busy, with appearances in dozens of films. He even showed up in a few popular TV shows including Bones, Desperate Housewives and prison drama Oz.
Adam Doree met with Hudson recently at a convention appearance in London's fashionable ExCel centre to discuss ghosts, Ghostbusters and what it's really like to be stuck in a booth recording lines all day. Following is an abbreviated transcript out our chat.
Kikizo: I want to start by asking you about the rights to this film. From what I understand, they were really hard to secure. Why do you think this is such a difficult property to get permission to work on?
Ernie Hudson: I'm not sure. Obviously that's all the legal department. Like in anything, people have rights and they want to control it and yet they're not prepared to do anything with it. I think that's partly why there hasn't been another Ghostbusters, because the guys are sitting on it. But that's just off the top of my head. I have no idea.
Kikizo: Sony seems very protective over it and they won't let just anyone work on it.
Hudson: Right, right. I think they see the value in it. The fans have been loyal. The fans have sort of kept it in play. It's not one of those movies that they did a long time ago and then disappeared. You know, like Get Smart. I don't think anybody spent the last 20 years thinking about Get Smart, but then suddenly they said they were going to do a movie and people go, "Yeah, I remember that movie." Ghostbusters has always been active. The fans have kept it alive. They've made the costumes, they've built the car, they never really let it go. So I think the studios realized it's a valuable property. But then on the other hand they've had difficulty figuring out how to move it forward, for a variety of reasons of which I have no idea.
Kikizo: What I found was an interesting parallel is that the story in the game involves you guys trying to secure Ghostbusters franchise rights from the mayor, which was a little bit like how this project got started in real life, just trying to get the rights off of Sony.
Hudson: Yeah. Hopefully the fans will like the game. I'd love to do another movie. I know Danny Aykroyd and Harold Raymis, they'd love to, but who knows what the reason is [for it not happening]. It hasn't been because I've turned it down.
Kikizo: This is a direct sequel, pretty much, to the first two movies. Do you think they will end up calling it Ghostbusters III?
Hudson: I think so. I think right now that is the plan. But things can change. At this point it's all about how can we market it, and if there's another name that they think will be effective [they will use it]. But right now I think it's Ghostbusters III. I think Danny and Harold, when they wrote the script, they were looking at it as a sequel.
Kikizo: I think from the marketing point of view, it positions it a little more nicely. When you call it number 3, people are like, "This is the real deal" as opposed to "it's just a spin-off".
Hudson: True. And you know, I'm not a big gamer, but my son came with me and played the game, and it does have that feel of Ghostbusters. There's something about it. It feels like that space and time in New York with the Marshmallow Man. There's something about it that feels authentic and a part of the story.