Why Facebook Audience Insights Showed ‘Ghostbusters’ Reboot Was a Bad Idea

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I’m posting this ahead of the Ghostbusters reboot launch because I want Hollywood to wake up.

I want the industry to stop making movies that the market very clearly does not want, and start focusing on films that people actually want to see.

I believe focusing on films that people actually want to see will lead to a more stable film industry and avoid the costly mistakes such as the Ghostbusters reboot will be.

Also, I’m a Ghostbusters fan. I once created my own pitch for a sequel. I hate that one of my favorite franchises has become a casualty of the complete and total lack of understanding at major film studios on how to analyze and interpret market data. Sony in particular seems to be the worst at it, which is strange given the plethora of data it should have about users from its games business.

Let’s Get the Hard Conversation Out of the Way

I’m not going to dance around the elephant in the room.

Look, everyone knows the Ghostbuster trailer has nearly 500,000 downvotes.

That’s half a million people who care about the Ghostbusters franchise and are not going to buy a movie ticket — and that’s just the people who bothered to login to a YouTube channel so they could downvote the trailer.

Here’s some select comments from the video that I think illustrate the general sentiment people have.

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I realize this is a lot of comments, but I need to put this article into proper context. There is 156,000+ comments on this trailer and I think that is probably some kind of record for a YouTube movie trailer about a film that hasn’t even came out yet.

Clearly, many people are passionate about Ghostbusters and do not like this movie. A blunder has been made at Sony.

But could it have been avoided? Was there some way for Sony execs to easily know this movie was a bad idea before it was greenlighted?

Absolutely 100% yes. 

In the United States and Canada, there are somewhere between 4M and 4.5M fans of the Ghostbusters franchise. I can be confident in this number because it’s in the Facebook’s Audience Insight database.

What Is Facebook Audience Insights?

Have you never heard of Facebook Audience Insights? If so, and you work in marketing, oh boy. 

If you don’t know what Facebook Audience Insights is, you do not understand how to do marketing in the digital age and you are undoubtedly wasting your company’s marketing budget on inferior sources of customer data (probably Nielsen). And greenlighting movies bound to fail, like this Ghostbusters reboot.

Since 2014, Facebook has had a tool called Power Editor which allows you to generate custom audiences. It makes it stupidly easy to do market research. Over 1 billion people actively use Facebook, and 43% of the US population has an active Facebook account. Unlike Nielsen, Facebook does not gather its data from user surveys. Instead it monitors what users do on their platform and the hundreds of other platforms that use Facebook for login access.

Facebook knows practically everything about its users. Age, gender, relationship status, income levels, lifestyle, careers, educational background, how many children they have. It knows if you recently bought a car.

If you still don’t get it, here’s the difference.

Nielsen only knows what the very small number of people it surveys tells it. Much of it can be lies, and Nielsen has no way of knowing if it’s being lied to or not.

By contrast, Facebook knows practically everything you do on your computer and cellphone. It doesn’t survey, it monitors.

You may have heard of companies like Crimson Hexagon, and their enterprise level pricing. Truth is they are mostly just repackaging Facebook’s data and charging you for it.

No other company in the world has as much information on people as Facebook does, and Facebook allows you to FREELY datamine it to conduct market research so you can tailor ad campaigns on it. But it can also be used just to get a general sense of what people like and don’t like, and how many potential customers can be in a niche market.

Everything I do as an entrepreneur is built around what Facebook tells me. I won’t start a business unless I can clearly identify a target customer profile using Facebook’s data. I just won’t do it, because if Facebook can’t validate that an audience exists for the product I am considering, that audience probably doesn’t exist at all.

What Does Facebook Tell Us About Ghostbusters Fans?

Facebook shows the demographics like this,

gb-total-audience-stats

You’ll notice the majority of the fans are age 25-34. That’s the age group of the kids who grew up watching The Real Ghostbusters cartoon franchise that ran between September 13, 1986 to October 5, 1991. This is the demographic who made Ghostbusters a multi-million dollar franchise. We watched the TV show and convinced our parents to buy us the toys and comic books. We’re the ones Ghostbusters II was created to capitalize on.

Most importantly, we’re the ones who have kept interest in the Ghostbusters franchise alive by buying merchandise like those deluxe action figures Mattel puts out, dressing up at conventions and supporting things like the Ghostbusters board game project that raised $1.5M dollars on Kickstarter.

This demographic is critical for any Ghostbuster reboot. You cannot do a successful reboot without this demographic, because we are the franchise. 

You should notice 51% of Ghostbuster fans are male and 49% are female. That’s a nearly 50:50 ratio. So obviously, you would assume any Ghostbusters reboot should star an equal cast of men and women in order to capitalize on the childhood fantasies of an entire generation who all wanted to be Ghostbusters, right?

RIGHT??

Sadly wrong, since the folks at Sony Pictures greenlighted a Ghostbusters reboot on the premise of reversing the gender roles of the original film franchise, with an all female Ghostbuster team and a male secretary who draws boobs on ghosts.

It should be obvious by now this “reverse the gender roles” concept was a terrible idea. Half a million passionate Ghostbusters fans have been alienated based on the trailer response alone.

Say what you want about the reasons, but that is lost revenue no matter how you slice it.

But hey, maybe you are thinking the Ghostbusters reboot could still possibly sell enough box office tickets to recoup its production budget of $154 million and however much they have spent / will spend marketing it (if the marketing budget is standard, it’ll be like 3 times its production budget, so around $462M extra. My guess is Sony is probably $616M into this movie already from the budget and marketing costs alone).

But let’s not pretend. Let’s be real.

2M to 2.2M of Ghostbusters fans have been turned off by the very premise of this reboot. Half the potential audience is just thrown away at the start with a film that is specifically designed to alienate them by entrapping itself in a radical feminist message (we’ll explore why this is true later).

Let’s focus on the remaining women and why they probably won’t show up to the box office, either.

98% of female Ghostbuster fans in the US and Canada live in the United States.

Even though The Real Ghostbusters cartoon aired in Canada, Ghostbusters is largely a US-centric franchise.

The top cities for women are such,

 

top-cities-gb-women1

 

Most of these cities are conservative hotbeds, and generally speaking, conservatism and feminism don’t go hand in hand.

Now let’s look at relationship status of the female Ghostbusters fans,

relationship-status-gb-women1

31% are single and 69% are in a relationship of some sort. 40% of all female Ghostbusters fans are married.

I realize gay marriage is now legal, but straight marriages still makes up the overwhelming majority of marriages in the US and likely will for the foreseeable future given homosexuality is a minority demographic. It’s safe to assume most of these female Ghostbuster fans are in a relationship with a man — one who is likely a Ghostbuster fan himself and feels alienated by this reboot and its divisive message.

Do you really think they’ll go to the box office without their significant other?

Let’s Not Pretend This Reboot Doesn’t Have a Pro-Feminist Message

Seriously, don’t insult our intelligence by trying to argue otherwise.It’s not only built into the plot of the film, it’s part of the film’s marketing campaign. Regardless of whether you share or oppose radfem ideals, it is not up for debate whether the Ghostbusters reboot is specifically infused with these ideas.

For example, fhe male secretary is depicted as a chauvinist who proposes this image for the female Ghostbuster logo. This is literally in the second Ghostbusters reboot trailer. 

ghost-boobs-ghostbusters-logo-mascot

 

Furthermore, director and screenwriter Paul Feig’s response to initial criticism over an all-female cast was this outburst,

635787839746537742-feig-tweet-ghostbusters-spaced

If you need any further evidence, just look at how they’ve been conducting the staged photo ops for the marketing of the movie…..

CQDGBY1UkAAp4VJ

….and the message Sony’s PR team for the film has been pushing through articles like this and this, and especially these…
theverge

usa-today-ghostbusters

 

They are literally trying to “fight the patriarchy” with this movie.

They chose the Ghostbusters film franchise as a vehicle to “fight the patriarchy” with.

-sigh-

I’m trying very hard to refrain from ranting (too much) about how the feminism movement today has been replaced with a twisted, radicalized version of itself which is 99% about women attacking men in order to obtain economic advantages for themselves, rather than about women and men having mutual respect and equal legal rights which was the original goal of feminism.

(And let us be clear: Radical feminism is not Feminism anymore than Catholicism is Judaism; even if they have similarities to each other, RadFem and Feminism have substantial differences in their beliefs)

I also won’t share my deeper thoughts about how self-loathing men who endorse radical feminist ideas generally rank high on psychological tests for low-self esteem, and acts of self-hatred are generally a manifestation of deeper mental issues.

Instead I’ll just show another tweet from Paul Feig hating on men for rejecting the pro-radical feminist marketing campaign of the Ghostbusters reboot.

paul-feig-rant-twitter

“Getting their own version. GB is a positive force.” is a key idea here. It’s a manifestation of his inner thought process on how he views himself, his movies and the world.

More importantly it’s how Paul Feig makes money. His career is largely tied around the idea he’s making the world a better place for women by being the only key dude on an otherwise female-centric cast and crew — which is hilariously ironic, if you think about it. If he was truly so pro-girl power, he wouldn’t be writing, producing or directing these so-called “girl power” movies. He’d step back for a woman to do it without him! Instead, he capitalizes financially by pushing a psuedo version of feminism where he is conveniently the one making the most financial gains on the projects as a director / producer / writer. Paul Feig has mastered the art of pimping.

Anyway, Paul Feig has drank his own Kool-Aid and turned a 30 year old franchise that is equally enjoyed by men and women, into a vehicle for his interpretation of social change which is female dominated. Sadly, his interpretation is that guys are chauvinistic jerks who seriously propose drawing boobs on a ghost mascot while white women are misunderstood scientists, and black women are uneducated comic relief.

The original film franchise was more progressive, since Winston was the straight man in the team, a Marine veteran and had a PhD; and while all the Ghostbusters may have been male, the females were very strong characters (Janine takes crap from nobody, and Dana was Sigourney Weaver).

Paul Feig is also under the misconception that female protagonists in horror films is some kind of novel thing that is redefining gender roles, but the truth is women have been protagonists in horror films since the 1970s. Alien, Terminator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Silence of the Lambs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. etc.

I would dare to say that most horror films since the 1980s have featured women as protagonists and have managed to do so without wrapping themselves in some kind of psuedo-feminist bullshit ideology.

The point is, there’s no way to argue this reboot hasn’t been based around an extremely divisive idea — radical feminism. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, the film is a vehicle for radical feminism ideals. Paul Feig’s statements and Sony marketing campaign demonstrate they purposely intended to alienate male fans of the franchise with this movie by building it around a divisive idea.

 

So Who Did They Think This Movie Would Appeal To?

 

Fans of Bridesmaids, according to the leaked Sony emails. They were confident about this, too, and mocked people who suggested it was a bad idea.

By continuing our examination of the demographic data Facebook shares with us we shall learn why intentionally alienating the male Ghostbusters fans in a desperate effort to attract an entirely different group of fans, is a terrible business idea.

Let’s look at what Facebook can tell us about fans of the Bridesmaid film. This is a worthwhile consideration given casting and director similarities. The press has been comparing the Ghostbusters reboot to Bridesmaids for over a year and the Sony hacking leaks shows that the success of Bridesmaids was a key factor in the production of a female-centric Ghostbusters.

So let’s look at who the fans of Bridesmaids are.

bridesmaids-stats1

2M to 2.5M people. Overwhelmingly female at 98%, and in the top age categories are 18-24 and 25-34.

Let’s look at what these women are interested in.

bridesmaids-stats2

Romance, beauty and fashion. That’s what Bridesmaids fans are interested in. Makes sense, as Bridesmaids is a film specifically about these things.

Guess what these Bridesmaids fans aren’t interested in?

Science fiction.

I feel I should elaborate on this here. Obviously, there are women out there who love Ghostbusters and science fiction. Women who are BIG sci-fi fans and buy lots of merchandise. I know of them. Hell, my own mother is one.

But compared to men, they are not the largest demographic, and when you are dealing with a sub-fandom interest like Ghostbusters, that minority becomes an even smaller number. Movies need to make back hundreds of millions of dollars to be profitable. You can’t build a successful film if only tens of thousands of people watch it. Thus you must cater to the majority and sell millions of tickets. That’s just good business sense.

My main point here, really, is Bridesmaids fans as a collective group aren’t interested in sci-fi, and that’s what Ghostbusters is.

Now, Facebook Audience Insights has one limitation that bugs me; it doesn’t make it easy to analyze cross-interests between a demographic. For example, I can’t simply see who has shared interest in Ghostbusters and another film property like Bridesmaids in order to demonstrate in an absolute unmistakable way how little in common these two demographics have with one another.

But I can do this.

These are the top Pages which female Ghostbuster fans are following.

top-pages-status-gb-women1

In contrast, these are the top Pages male Ghostbuster fans are following,

top-pages-status-gb-men1

Can you spot the contrasting interests?

The men are following sci-fi related Pages and groups. The women are not. Furthermore, while both men and women are following pages related to consumer goods, only the men are focused on pages concerning merchandise.

This is key because while women may be a fan of Ghostbusters, they aren’t necessarily a fan of science fiction itself.

Who do you think is more likely to go to the box office and buy lots of related merchandise?

A. Lukewarm fans of sci-fi.

B. Hardcore fans of sci-fi.

The answer should be obvious, but since it probably isn’t for some people, here’s the stats of science fiction fans in general.

scifi-fans-fb

66% are male. It’s also worth pointing out that there is a total of 35M – 40M sci-fi fans. Ghostbusters fandom is a niche within the broader sci-fi fandom category.

 

Here’s another important fact that can be gleamed by the politics filters. 500K to 600K of female Ghostbuster fans are listed as either Very Conservative or Conservative, and 45% of them are in the 25 to 34 age bracket.

gb-women-conservative

So there’s another half a million people who are fairly unlikely to watch a movie that is being marketed around a pro-feminist message.

It’s not looking so good for the Ghostbusters reboot, is it? Of the 4.5M Ghostbuster fans, only 682,000 of them might  show up at the box office. The rest are very likely to reject the film based purely on their displeasure with the polarizing premise of the movie.

At this point you may be thinking, “So what, a bunch of Ghostbuster fans will not watch this movie. There is still a lot of people who may still go see it.”

Yes, that’s true. Some people will go see the Ghostbusters reboot, but it is certain that not ALL the fans of Ghostbusters franchise will watch it. That’s the point.

Why would you intentionally alienate over half the fans of a franchise? This is a product, and purposely turning off potential consumers of the product means you lost potential revenue from the product you put out.

It was not necessary to make this reboot in the manner they did. They could have produced a Ghostbusters film that didn’t alienate any of the fans, but they specifically chose to do so anyway. That demonstrates an extraordinary level of incompetence. This film should not have been greenlit because the market data suggests a movie specifically designed to alienate its male fans was not going to work.

The only explanation for this movie being greenlight is that Amy Pascal and Paul Feig were arrogant. The market data demonstrates this movie not was a good fit for the franchise.

So What Should Sony Pictures Do?

Release the film, to whatever theaters will still carry it knowing the seats will mostly be empty.

Try to make back whatever you can but accept this movie is not going to be the flagship for a new Ghostbusters rebirth. Don’t try to force the matter, the fanbase will not embrace it.

Instead start working on the movie we actually want to see.

It’ll probably look something like this.

Actually, market data tells me it absolutely will be something like that pitch because the overwhelming majority of Ghostbusters fans are in the appropriate age group for when The Real Ghostbusters cartoons were airing. That dream is unrealistic, but it’s still in our hearts. That’s what we have nostalgia for, that part of ourselves which was a little kid.

We wanted to grow up and inherit the legacy of the Ghostbusters, so make a movie where some stand-ins of our generation can do so. And put a girl on the team. Hell, go ahead and put two. Just don’t build your script around radfem ideas like “Girl Power” and depict the guys as chauvinists who don’t understand why putting boobs on a ghost might be offensive.

Hell, don’t make the film about politics at all. That’s not what Ghostbusters is about.

It’s not complicated. It’s all in the data.

tl:dr: The market data demonstrates the Ghostbusters fanbase has a near 50:50 male / female ratio, and a significant portion of the demographic is politically Conservative. Therefore basing the film on the concept of gender-flipping the roles and then crafting a marketing campaign around the pro-feminist messaging was a terrible idea that would only serve to create unnecessary controversy and fan backlash.

Meanwhile the audience which has been counted on to show up — fans of Bridesmaids — are overwhelming uninterested in sci-fi and very unlikely to save the film.

Edit: More discussion on the reddit thread, https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/4bgcqv/why_facebook_audience_insights_showed/

Lastly if you are a Ghostbusters fan and want some insight into how this reboot was made instead of the originally planned Ghostbusters 3 movie, watch this video. It is based on review of leaks emails from Sony regarding the development of the film.

Update 5/9/16: Enough people have asked me to create a guide on how to use Audience Insights to conduct market research that I spent a few hours and wrote a guide. Here you go. ‘How to use Facebook Audience Insights to Perform Market Research‘.

Update 7/18/16: The Ghostbusters reboot flopped so my prediction proved correct. Here’s my follow up article about this.




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  • Contrabardus

    Dude. You need to get rid of the sidebar crap cluttering up your page. All those ad boxes cover about a quarter of the top portion of the article rendering it unreadable. No one should have to do anything to get the free floating social media, advertisement boxes, and ‘about you’ junk out of the way to read your article. It’s obstructing the content to the point of being obnoxious and because of it myself and many others won’t be bothered with reading this.

  • smarty pants

    Please get a handle on the right-side content on your page. It cuts off a bunch of the article. Really annoying since your stuff seems really interesting. I still powered through figuring what you were saying because will-power 🙂

  • It’d help if you mentioned what browser and OS you are using, but I suspect updating your browser, or use one like Chrome that auto-updates, will address the issue. This is a responsive design website.

  • As mentioned in the comment above yours, it’d help if you mentioned what browser and OS you are using, but I suspect updating your browser, or use one like Chrome that auto-updates, will address the issue. This is a responsive design website.

  • Phil White

    Hello. A good article BUT Ghostbusters is NOT Science-Fiction any more than Lord of the Rings is Science-Fiction. They are both firmly located in the FANTASY genre. Science Fiction is predicated on real or extrapolated science and as ghosts do not exist Ghostbusters is not SF

  • Actually, science fiction is a sub-niche within the broader fantasy category. Lord of the Rings actually belongs to the sword and sorcery sub-niche of fantasy. However, the layperson is unaware of this because film marketing campaigns mostly consider fantasy to be specifically anything to do with swords and sorcery, and has thus created the popular misconception that science fiction and fantasy are entirely different.

    Regardless of what some oddball on Wikipedia has claimed, science fiction is part of the larger fantasy genre. This is evident in that science fiction has always been published in fantasy magazines, unless of course that magazine is specifically about science fiction or some other subcategory of fantasy (like urban fantasy, for example). The blurring of the lines is best quantified in the words of Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    Anyway, in the case of Ghostbusters, it rationalizes the paranormal with scientific explanations for the phenomena, which is treated as a normal part of the universe, which is why science is used to combat the supernatural. Therefore it is firmly in the science fiction category, with elements of horror and comedy.

    If you believe it can’t be science fiction because it has ghosts in it, you must not have watched Star Wars and all the force ghosts and mystical stuff. It’s science fiction.

  • Phil White

    Errrrr, no, that’s just fundamentally incorrect Carey. Science Fiction and Fantasy are two separate genres and always have been. I’ve been reading, viewing and studying SF for 5 decades and there is a clear distinction as I mentioned earlier. SF must be based on REAL science or the extrapolation of real science whereas Fantasy is whatever you want to claim is true at the time. Your interpretation of Clarke’s statement is also fundamentally flawed. Clarke meant that to the observer of the technology who doesn’t fully comprehend its operation then it might as well be magic but of course it is not. Also Science Fiction has NOT always been published in Fantasy magazines: it was initially published on novel and short story form (Wells, Verne etc) and then in specialist SF magazines like ‘Astounding’ and ‘Amazing’. It was only for commercial reasons that it got lumped in with Fantasy and, particularly in the 60s, ended up in those publications.

    Your statement that Ghostbusters rationalises the paranormal with scientfic explanations is untrue. Their is NOTHING scientific about the explanations, they have NO basis in REAL science and again, it is Fantasy.

    I suggest that you get some education about this subject before making anyore ridiculous claims please.

  • Bolted4Life

    It’s a Sci-fi Comedy plain and simple. It’s been labeled that since it’s conception. Let it go.

  • Bolted4Life

    This was a excellent article! I’ve shared it with a bunch of my coworkers. I hated the idea of an all female Ghostbusters, just because I knew there was a sort of propaganda behind it. Then I saw that Paul Feig was linked to it, I knew it was going to to be a cheap Bridesmaids regurgitation. I was right. With great actresses that can pull off comedic timing (because Ghostbusters wasn’t about funny actors, it was about comedic timing) like Ellen Page, Aisha Taylor, Tina Fey etc. I was sick to my stomach to see this cast. Wiig, McCarthy and others are funny, but not for a Ghostbusters movie. I don’t know what Sony was thinking. When the trailer premiered I watched with some sort of hope that “maybe it won’t be so bad” but again I was wrong. Why not go after they demographic that made it popular and stand the test of time? I don’t know. But great article.

  • Sci-Fi authors and publishers started separately branding their stories for marketing purposes, primarily. It’s still fantasy.

    I don’t know how to respond to the belief Star Wars is fantasy and not sci-fi. You know they fly spaceships in Star Wars and use laser swords, right? They literally have robots, spaceship and laser guns battles in the first scene of the original movie.

  • Glad you enjoyed the article.

    I personally don’t have any particular issues with the cast choices themselves. I don’t think it would have been desirable from a marketing standpoint (for the reasons I outlined in the article), but it could have been an all-female Ghostbuster team and not alienated nearly as much of the fanbase if they hadn’t included all the radfem ideals and responded to fan concerns about the film being a gender flipped reboot by screaming about misogyny and cursing at the fans.

    The real issue is the very concept of the film led the writing of the film, which has fed into the marketing of the movie. It was wrong from the start.

  • Beatz

    On Chrome it is ok and on Firefox engines it is not…:)

  • Robert M. Cassidy

    I am ‘robcassidy84’ from those Paul Feig Tweets, and I declare this to be the best, most well researched and well written article on the subject of the Ghostbusters reboot to date. I heartily endorse this article!

  • TheMikester

    Well, the responsive design doesn’t work. On Android Chrome, the page is too wide in either orientation to be able to read the right side. I suspect it was a good article, but I couldn’t read most of it.

  • Thanks! 😀

  • The page should load properly now.

  • The page should load properly now. Let me know

  • Beatz

    It’s working now! Thanks for you effort.

  • Tony Pacheco

    I feel like this movie was greenlit because the Sony execs knew it would fail. They have been trying to get rid of the gb franchise for decades but couldnt because so many people including Dan Akroyd begged for a sequel to gb 1 & 2. Sony knew that if the movie flopped, they could effectively say “See? We told you know one was interested anymore.” and no other producer would dare try to make another gb movie, effectively killing the ghostbusters franchise once and for all.

  • Joshua Boville

    This was most definitely a thought provoking and well created article, and for that I say thank you. I have been a Ghostbuster fan for at least 27 years now, since I first saw it and when I heard there was going to be a 3rd film written by Dan Aykroyd I became very excited. Then all the red flags started showing up (Sony didn’t use Dan’s script, Bill said no, Harold passed away, Ivan said he wasn’t comfortable) and by that I thought that maybe Sony would get the message, but then I remembered how sony is the “Crap, if we don’t make a movie soon, we will lose the franchise rights….quick let’s whip something up” (remember Spider man) corporation. I was slightly excited knowing that there was going to be something for this generation…..until I saw the trailer. Not to ramble, but I want to say thank you again. You hit the nail on the head with this and I for one will not be supporting this new direction that the film is going in. Ghostbusters will always be Bill,Dan,Harold and Ernie to me.

  • Sgt K USMC

    This was… it was just….

    Brilliant…

    I have no words, you really did nail it on EVERY single count.

  • Your welcome! I’m happy to hear people found it interesting.

  • I don’t think they intentionally spent millions of dollars trying to bury a franchise. I think they just got arrogant and thought their personal tastes would be shared by many, and therefore did zero practical market research into whether it was a good idea. This seems to be something Sony Pictures does a lot. Looking through the leaked emails at the marketing presentations, it seems they don’t really know what they are doing.

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

  • CJV91

    Really enjoyed this piece Carey, thank you. Especially interesting hearing your data-backed analysis of the demographics involved in Facebook. You’re completely right, it’s a repository of hard facts that every marketing and social intel group should be jumping on. Do you have a specific blog about getting the best out of FB Power Editor (searched on your site but couldn’t find anything in great detail) – I’d love to be able to use graphs and findings like you quoted here but have only a novice’s understanding of FB Ad Manager and Power Editor.
    Thanks again for the thoughtful piece, I’ll be coming back!

  • Thanks for reading the article. I don’t have any article on Facebook Power Editor, but I do mention the basics on how to use it in my book ‘Facebook Marketing: Guide to Strategies That Don’t Suck’. It’s a $0.99 Kindle exclusive. http://careymartell.com/2015/12/facebook-marketing-guide-to-strategies-that-dont-suck-now-available-on-kindle/

    I also have some general advice on Facebook audience development in this article, though not about Power Editor. http://careymartell.com/2015/08/how-to-create-a-successful-facebook-fan-page-audience/

  • Also Known As

    Probably the best presentation and articulation of why I and so many others have issues with this film. Thank you.

  • Adam G. Yoksas

    I think they (Sony) knew who a Ghostbusters fan was and what they wanted. Just like Disney knew who a Star Wars fan was and what they wanted. Just like Warner Bros. knew who a Mad Max fan was and what they wanted.

    But my question is this…does a studio really have to give a fan (which is, after all, shorthand for “fanatic”) what they want for the fan to watch the film anyway?

    It seems to me they don’t have to cater to their tastes, because they have something that trumps their tastes: the IP, monopoly power. They don’t have to compete to get them; they already have them. And if past is precedent, the studios are right, especially for these old, hard established franchises that have been around 30+ years. Did a lot of Star Wars fans dislike the choices in Ep. VII? Yes. Did they see the film anyway? Yes.

    It seems to me that the studio’s problem was something else entirely: to figure out who /wasn’t a Ghostbuster fan/, but could potentially /watch a Ghostbuster film/ (big difference), if given the right cues.

    And so they picked the “mean girls” demographic who aren’t watching Silver Linings Playbook as much as they are watching these cynical rom-coms like John Tucker Must Die and Bridesmaids. They have precious little this summer to watch (unlike the main GB demographic that was well described here); probably the only film that can compete for this audience is Absolutely Fabulous, but AbFab is a bit too middle aged for them.

    Perhaps GB will prove me wrong, that fans “matter.” Fans certainly mattered to Deadpool; its decision to go all the way, even to an R rating, to give the fans what they wanted paid off big.

  • I think if films like Terminator: Genisys and the GI: Joe films have taught us anything, it is that you need the fans.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a bad example. I personally felt the story could have been better, but it was a genuine continuation of the original franchise and followed the general Star Wars plot structure step by step. They also returned to a lot of practical effects which makes the film’s world look more closely to the original trilogy than the prequels did.

    Find me a reboot or screen adaptation where the source material was utterly ignored or re-imagined, and which has done well in the market. 21 Jump Street is the only one that comes to mind, and it only mattered to work because it was a low-budget film which could be profitable after only $200M.

    Ghostbusters has to make twice that just to cover its production budget to have been worth it for Sony Pictures. I don’t see it happening without the fans.

  • You’re welcome. Thanks for reading!

  • Adam G. Yoksas

    You know, Joshua, your post about your love of Ghostbusters really made me think about what made the franchise so special in the first place. And looking over at 1984, the year the film came out, made me realize how special Ghost Busters really was.

    1984 was, simply put, one of the best years to be a moviegoer, simply based on the films released that year. If you look at what Ghost Busters had to compete with that year, this is what you’d see at the box office window:

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    The Terminator
    Beverly Hills Cop
    The Last Starfighter
    The Karate Kid
    Dune
    Police Academy
    A Nightmare on Elm Street
    The Never Ending Story
    Conan the Destroyer

    Pretty stiff competition, I’d say.

    Did it have the biggest budget that year? No. Did it have the most star power that year? No. Did it have the best action that year? No. Did it have the most dazzling effects that year? No. Was it the funniest movie that year? No. Did it have the best story? in my opinion, no.

    But it had a lot to say for itself in all those categories, plus one thing that no other film of that era could match: a perfect ensemble cast, which was the thing that was really special to you and to me. I think the Ghost Busters will, regrettably, always be “Bill, Dan, Harold and Ernie” to all of us. That’s the real problem with making a Ghost Busters remake today. Not the Grrl power. Not the demographics. But the standard that was set. It would be like making a remake of Casablanca without Bogart, or making a remake of Blues Brothers without John Belushi (which they did and, not unexpectedly, it flopped).

  • Adam G. Yoksas

    Thank you for your reply. Again, I think the jury is still out…we’ll see when the receipts come in.

    As far as examples of relaunches that bear no fidelity to the original, I think we see it work in television more than film.

    I think the first real example I can see of this “reboot craze” came from the relaunch of Glen Larson’s Battlestar Galactica by Ronald Moore in 2003. Moore’s series has very little resemblance to Larson’s original series, but it ended up doing better than Larson’s series (more seasons, more spinoffs).

  • Joshua Boville

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Actually, I found myself having to explain to friends and family why I am so passionate about not seeing the new movie, to which I said “Yes the original had 3 comedians, but that didn’t make the movie a comedy. It was all about the timing…and the fact that if you read the original script, you would realize that most of it was improved (Bill’s part especially) whereas with this new film it’s main focus is comedy. I could go on about the reboots that did horrible (Dirty Dancing 2, Footloose, Nightmare on Elm Street). Either way, instead of ranting to Sony or others with my personal opinion. I just won’t pay to see it, or even see it. That is my protest.

    Also. WOW, I wish I were able to see those in theaters when they came out. What a powerhouse of movies

  • CultofZoidberg

    Ralph Retort sent me here….

    I am glad he did 😉

  • Andrew Shaffer

    “You should notice 51% of Ghostbuster fans are male and 49% are female. That’s a nearly 50:50 ratio. So obviously, you would assume any Ghostbusters reboot should star an equal cast of men and women in order to capitalize on the childhood fantasies of an entire generation who all wanted to be Ghostbusters, right?”

    What I would assume is that if 49% of the fans of the original Ghostbusters (starring four men) were women, then it would stand to reason that 49% of the fans of a new Ghostbusters (starring four women) would be men.

  • You’re misunderstanding the point I am making.

    The purpose of the reboot was to capitalize on nostalgia for a generation of folks who are still Ghostbusters fans. That’s the goal behind any franchise reboot. Thus, wish fulfillment is an important aspect, as when a GB fan was a child much of the merchandise related to GB was stuff like full-size proton packs, ghost traps and various other stuff kids would use to pretend to be a Ghostbuster. Furthermore, you see in the cosplay scene many women and men fulfill part of that desire to “be a Ghostbuster” by cosplaying as GBs to attend comic-cons.

    Thus the purpose behind an even ratio of men and female in a reboot would be to allow the new cast to serve as stand-ins for the audience members — to have a Ghostbuster they can identify with.

    Wish fulfillment of a generation of kids who are now grown adults was not something to consider with the prior movies, as the kids were not yet adults.

  • Contrabardus

    Up to date Firefox on Windows 10.

    Chrome tracks users and isn’t very secure, so I’m not going to switch over to it to read an article on a blog. Auto updates are generally a bad idea on any browser. I prefer notifications and manual updating, the result is the same either way. It’s not my browser that’s at fault, but poor web design.

    I also have a Windows 7 laptop that has the same problem with the same browser.

    Incidentally, I’ve checked with Chrome and the issue is still there.

    Simply setting the ads into a fixed position on the sidebar would fix the problem. Hovering boxes that shift around the screen are never a good idea and will obscure content if settings like text size and resolution aren’t set perfectly. Mine are at the default settings, but I shouldn’t have to change them. Good design favors the user and this is nothing of the sort. They’re literally designed to do that so people will try clicking on them to get them to move out of the way.

    More often than not, you just lose readers to this sort of thing. It doesn’t even serve the advertiser because it favors hit count over actual sales. No one buys from an ad that annoys them into clicking it. It’s just a deceptive way to rip off money from bulk advertisement budgets by artificially inflating hits on a site to falsely report a high site visit count for an advertisers link.

    The issue here is poor web design, not a faulty browser. Those boxes are designed to draw clicks from frustrated users who want them out of the way to bump up the view count to draw ad revenue. They are intentionally made to have priority over content on page space for that very reason.

  • If you are worried about a browser tracking you, you should be using Tor not Firefox.

    At any result, the problem most people experienced was fixed over a week ago. If you are still experiencing it, either update your cache or use a different browser. I’m not optimizing my blog for a browser that less than 10% of the population is using.

    Also, you are reading a marketing focused blog. Might want to keep that in mind next time you want to rant about ads. You are getting access to free information that costs me money to host the site and time to write. The tradeoff is you are advertised to, and the only advertising on my blog are my own books.

    If you are seeing any ads which are not about my books, you’ve got malware creating the problems you see on my blog. I have nothing to do with it.

  • Sir Greendown

    I definitely agree that this movie alienates a large amount of the people who made this franchise into what it is today.

    However, I fail to see how this movie promotes radical feminist ideology. That’s by far the flimsiest part of your argument. Trying to appeal to the Bridesmaids viewers is no worse than the hundreds of movies that have tried to appeal to men. How is this form of pandering somehow worse? It certainly doesn’t necessarily make the movie “feminist.”

    Secondly, the chauvinist argument is ridiculous. It’s a good way of demonstrating how impossibly unaware Chris’s character is. I fail to see how your interpretation is the most likely. What if he just made it because he likes boobs and he’s insensitive? And even if he were consistently chauvinist throughout the movie, how does that promote feminism?

    Thirdly, The PR firm is trying to win brownie points among people who care about social justice. That in and of itself does not indicate the movie promotes feminist ideals – ideals which you have yet to articulate (you only mention the PR team’s .

    Fourth, I don’t see anything wrong with Paul Fieg’s comments. You assume that he wasn’t responding to anything that was legitimately sexist when there clearly are. Complaining that the movie features four females instead of males IS sexist. By that I mean, how does it logically make more sense to feature four males instead of females? It’s not like these new characters are just stand-ins for each of the old ones. No, they’re an entirely new set of characters, and it wouldn’t make more sense (not taking into account the marketing data you present) for them to be male instead of female.

    Add this on top of the people who hurl blatantly sexist insults at the cast like “cunt” and “bitch,” and you can see that not every criticism of this movie has been an objective analysis of the quality (and believe me, there are plenty to make). And while these people may not form the majority of the movie’s critics, they do exist.

    I’m sorry, but the evidence you present towards the argument that this movie promotes feminism is not very damning. You don’t present any direct evidence of an agenda you just choose to interpret the appearance of certain aspects about this the movie and it’s marketing in that light.

  • You might want to read Paul Feig’s guest article about how women are comically superior to men — he cites the kind of psuedo-science babble which Radical feminism is based upon.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/paul-feig-why-men-arent-449025

    Secondly, you suggest Chris’ character isn’t being portrayed as chauvinistic, but go on to suggest he just likes women’s boobs and is insensitive. That’s exactly the qualities of a male chauvinistic as defined by radical feminism.

    Thirdly, the purpose of marketing is to build awareness of a product and its value. When product marketing becomes cause-centric it is with the goal of tying the cause’s values with the product. So yes, Sony marketing the Ghostbusters reboot as a vehicle for radical feminists is very much based in the film having such a message. Convincing people this is true is the entire point of the marketing in the first place.

    Fourthly, the idea that the original Ghostbusters somehow had a pro-men message which needed to be countered with an all-female team of Ghostbusters is in itself a sexist idea. There’s absolutely no evidence that women cannot relate to male heroes anymore than men can’t relate to female ones — and the statistics of Ghostbusters fans on Facebook shows the fanbase is nearly equal in men and women. The original movies are loved by both men and women, which disproves the notion this new Ghostbusters film was created “for women”.

    Let’s not base internet trolls as speaking for a majority. The Ghostbusters trailer isn’t the most disliked video of all time on YouTube (in terms of views to dislike ratio) because of internet trolls. There are certainly groups of women hating internet trolls, but if they had the membership to drive down every video they didn’t like, they would be attacking something other than Justin Bieber music videos — which are the other most disliked videos on YouTube.

    Lastly, one need only conduct a Google search for “Paul Feig feminism” and “Amy Pascal feminism” to find a plethora of interviews and quotes from these two characters which demonstrates they have an agenda to promote radical feminism ideals. Again, feminism is about gender equality. Radical feminism is about the battle of the sexes, and how women are constantly being screwed by men. This is the kind of feminism they endorse. They have conducted the interviews to get these ideas out there so there is no need for me to spend any further time trying to “prove” they have these ideas and are inserting them into the films they make. They’ve literally done interviews about this. Again, a simple Google search will bring up a bunch. Here’s one.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/15/bridesmaids-director-paul-feig-talks-feminism-rebel-wilson-more.html

    “Question: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

    Feig: Yeah, oh very much so. Most of my friends are women. I’ve always just kind of hung out with them my whole life, to the point where I don’t even mix that well with guys who are hardcore, guy-ishness, I get very uncomfortable. I’d rather hang out with the ladies.”

    Feig’s definition of feminism is not feminism. Again, feminism is gender equality. Feig is actually a radical feminist so caught up in the imagined battle of the sexes that he can’t “mix well” with men who act “guy-ish”. That is a very sexist attitude he has, and the only difference between himself and the male chauvinists he purports to hate is that he stereotypes men instead of women.

  • Francesco Dell’Anna Muja

    Very rational analysis.

    I wasn’t aware of all this data, and yet I had my suspicions and I came to the same conclusions some time ago.
    Now I can back them up. Thanks, great article.

  • Nick

    Personally I don’t know if this movie is gonna be good or bad, I thought the trailers had there moments and maybe they’re saving the best punchlines for the film itself. But come on people, the first ghostbusters had an all male main cast and no one complained! Why can’t we have an action movie with an all female cast? That seems like simple, straightforward logic to me.

  • Ritchie Destiny

    But Thats not the way it was. It was a male lead cast. Can you imagine if they decided to remake Sailor Moon Cartoons with all male characters or some bullshit like that?

  • Thanatos

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16306

    It’s a comedy series that parodies such types of shows though, because they know such a thing would be laughable.

  • Mike

    Glad you owned him in your reply.

  • J_Lind

    I’m not exactly a youngster and in my high school years in Phoenix during the late 1960’s the drive-in theaters were still running strong with the American International Pictures B-movies. On a date we really did not go to watch the movie . . . most of the time . . . we went for the submarine races. Samuel Z. Arkoff was one of the key owners of American-International. He had a mnemonic based on his name that outlined the critical success factors for their films which targeted mostly the 16-25 demographic:
    * Action – exciting drama
    * Revolution – new and controversial themes
    * Killing – violence to enhance and amplify the action and increase tension
    * Oratory – notable dialog/speeches for the targeted young audience, even if cliche
    * Fantasy – fantasies acted out for the targeted (young) audience
    * Fornication – sex appeal for the younger teen to late 20’s

    Arkoff also had some basic principles which have been timeless for not just movies, but a wider range of products including the spate of YA novels:
    * a younger child will (want to) watch anything an older child will watch
    * an older child will **NOT** watch anything a younger child will watch
    * a girl will watch anything a boy will watch
    * a boy will **NOT** watch anything a girl will watch
    Therefore: the greatest target audience is the 19 year old male. The younger and female demographics will coattail on it.

    Arckoff and his partners made millions in the under 35 demographics, especially the under 25, from exploiting these principles. Of most importance here are the last two principles that girls will watch anything a boy will watch but boys will NOT watch anything a girl will watch. If you examine the movies that are commonly referred to as “chick flick” you find there are few males that watch them. I had to tolerate a few with my ex wife, but she had a good female friend she would usually go see them with (chick-flick night). Had no problem getting her to go with me to watch other genre, especially comedies that weren’t chick-flicks (e.g. Airplane, Animal House, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Getting her to go for some other action films could be a little tougher, but for some reason military or war related was no problem: A Few Good Men, Top Gun, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, A Bridge Too Far, Patton, etc. Dramas by Ron Howard like Backdraft, Apollo 13, etc. were also no problem. She was also game for the Back to the Future trilogy, the first several of the Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars trilogy. The principles outlined by Ackoff, IMHO, still apply for a large percentage of the 16-35 demographics, and especially for the 25 and younger. Those under 17, especially boys, _*desperately*_ want to see anything R rated by the MPAA for bragging rights at school on the following Monday.

    IMHO, in just about all age groups, women with male “significant others” select the list of movies they’d like to see; i.e. the short list of choices. Males exert some veto power, usually completely nixing the more blatant chick-flicks like the “Pitch Perfect” and “Bring it On” franchises. I vividly remember going to see Love Story when it was first released. Why? She (my SO at the time) desperately wanted to see it. Making her happy had its rewards. In retrospect now it’s a lachrymose tear-jerker but was acceptable at the time, and rather original in concept as a tragic romance.

    Even now, admittedly in my 60’s, I have ZERO interest in “chick flick” movies, especially things like the Twilight, Bring it On, and Pitch Perfect franchises. I’ve been subjected to a couple of the Bring it On and Pitch Perfect, and it was traumatic. Survived it by shutting down all sensory input and mentally zoning out to my favorite imaginary paradise for the duration, a technique I learned during a US Army career during training to survive the more extreme POW interrogation methods (unpleasant is an understatement) and put into practice while undergoing extremely morbid cancer treatment.

    Bottom Line:
    Feig, McCarthy and Pascal blew it completely with the demographics and the revenue it would create. Could have turned an OK profit (but not tent pole) with half the budget, which would have been in the ballpark of the three Feig & McCarthy movies that preceded Ghostbusters. Amy Pascal in particular has been bad for Sony. She should be the first one getting a pink slip in the round of layoffs precipitated by her very poor business decisions.

  • Good writeup.

    I should point out that Amy Pascal was forced to resign during the aftermath of the Sony email scandals — the problem is she walked away with agreements to continue producing Sony films. They should terminate this agreement, probably through a buyout of the agreement, because it will save them money in the long term to get her off the projects.

  • J_Lind

    Thanks . . . and I learned earlier yesterday about Pascal being replace by Rothman . . . when reading about him having cut the budget down by about %10, which reduces the loss, but wasn’t nearly enough. He’ll probably get a “pass” because of Pascal but I imagine there will be considerably pressure for him to stop the financial hemorrhaging very quickly. I agree that the sooner Sony dumps Pascal completely, the better off they’ll be. She’s a toxic money pit.

  • Jay R Manchiraju

    The final nail in the coffin is that Ghostbusters is directly competing with a much better Sci-Fi movie, Star Trek Beyond. Ghostbusters fans will most likely steer clear of the 2016 reboot and watch Beyond instead.