Ghostbusters reboot targets male viewers with new NBA-themed ads

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Paul Feig’s female-led Ghostbusters got some support from NBA heavyweights during Game 1 of the Finals, in a likely effort to appeal to male audiences

Ghostbusters reboot targets male viewers with new NBA-themed ads
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones – who you gonna call? Photograph: Frank Ockenfels/Columbia Pictures

For a summer comedy, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot has had a uniquely hard time winning over some prospective audience members – largely because of Feig’s decision to alter the genders of the lead characters. The first trailer racked up more than half a million “thumbs down” votes on YouTube, making it the most disliked in YouTube history. Feig dismissed the controversy over the casting of four women in the lead roles as “vile, misogynistic shit”, while Ghostbusters vet Dan Aykroyd chimed in, praising the revamp as funnier and scarier than the originals.

Now, in a likely effort to lure in male viewers, Sony has paired up with the NBA for a new series of Ghostbusters promotional spots geared to basketball fans.

The two costly looking ads were launched during Thursday night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porziņģis appeared in the east coast ad, shot in an empty Madison Square Garden, alongside Walt “Clyde” Frazier and film-maker Spike Lee. West coast audiences were treated to a promo led by recently retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant sporting a Ghostbusters jumpsuit at the Staples Center. “They said retirement was going to be boring,” Bryant scoffs in the ad.

Both promos notably don’t feature Feig’s new female quartet of ghost hunters: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

Sony enlisted Bryant for the gig immediately following his retirement, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He was reportedly heavily involved in the commercial’s scripting process.

In recent weeks, Sony has also targeted female audiences by having the cast appear on Ellen, although the studio was reportedly not pleased when it learned that Hillary Clinton would be featured on the same episode. “All this attention is great, but I hope they realize that Slimer is not a registered voter,” Tom Rothman, chairman of the Sony motion pictures group, said in a statement.

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