Draft Day: Ivan Reitman on Sports & Female Ghostbusters

When I reviewed Draft Day in theaters, I came up with the fictional character Sport Sportington for Kevin Costner’s football manager role. Now I’ve thought more about it and considered that maybe Sport Sportington was the character Costner played in all his sports movies. Draft Day could be part of the Sport Sportington quadrilogy, for cinquilogy if you count his retired baseball player character in The Upside of Anger

I tried to bring that up with director Ivan Reitman, who was available again to discuss the home video release of Draft Day, on Blu-ray and DVD. Costner’s actual character is named Sonny Weaver, general manager of the Cleveland Browns trying to negotiate his draft picks while personal crises ensue around him. The Blu-ray includes the bonus feature “Welcome to Primetime” which explains the machinations of the draft more technically. 

Related: An Exclusive Special Feature from the ‘Draft Day’ Blu-ray (Video)

CraveOnline: I don’t know if I’m your first interview today, but I’m sure everyone is going to ask since you directed Father’s Day if you could share your Robin Williams memories.

Ivan Reitman: It was a pleasure working with both of them [Williams and Billy Crystal]. I agree with virtually most of what I’ve read which is it’s an extraordinary tragedy that he felt compelled to do whatever he did. It is a huge loss. We’ve lost some wonderful people from my generation, this comedy generation. Losing both Harold Ramis and Robin this year is just a huge personal shock and tragedy. 

I loved working with him. He was amongst the fastest minds that I’ve ever been lucky enough to come in contact with. I loved it. I loved how he wanted to just keep doing it. He would always say, “Just another one, Captain. One more, one more.” It’s wonderful to get an actor who wants to keep pushing the envelope and improving things and finding some new way of doing things. 

It was the only movie that Billy Crystal and Robin did together, despite the fact that they were great friends and colleagues on a number of other kinds of projects. [Editor’s Note: Williams and Crystal co-starred in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet but they shared no screen time together.] I always wished that Father’s Day turned out better. We didn’t quite get it right and I always sort of felt responsible and guilty about not doing a better job for the two of them because they’re so brilliant. 

I think it’s partially the script and the concept was really not perfect for the two of them, but we had the greatest time. I don’t think I’ve laughed as much as I did on that movie. In a strange way, I think if I could find all the outtakes again and do an outtakes version of that movie it will be better. 

Thank you for sharing. I’m always fascinated when they change the cover art for a movie from the theatrical poster to the DVD. Draft Day isn’t that different, but what different message does the new art convey?

I don’t believe it really does. I think they just wanted to freshen it up. There was no big conversation about it. So I don’t think there’s anything too significant in it. 

When we spoke in April, we talked about the idea of making the sports of Draft Day very accessible to people who maybe don’t follow sports. Now I’ll ask, was there ever any consideration for making it a totally niche sports movie, all inside like Sport Sportington’s Guide to Sports?

I think the initial marketing was pretty well focused on sports fans. I think they turned out. Our problem was we couldn’t seem to, at least in the initial film release, we didn’t seem to be able to break out past that. What I’m getting told now that people are starting to see it, either online or on airplanes and soon on DVD, I just got interviewed by a woman who said, “I don’t know anything about football. I just love this movie.” I must have been told that 150 times in the last six months. 

To me, that’s the frustration so far. I’m hoping now that with the home release of the film that more people will see it and appreciate it for what it is. That’s what happened. When you’re doing a trickier niche-like film, particularly in this sort of moviegoing world, it’s very hard to break through unless you have a big comic book or something like that. 

If people are worried they might not understand the sports, should they watch that “Welcome to Primetime” extra first for a brush-up?

[Laughs.] I don’t think you need to. I think it’s a wonderful thing that it’s there, but I was pretty confident that the film would work for anybody and every time we’ve screened it, that’s been the case. Whether you know anything about sports or not, you can appreciate this movie on a lot of levels. I think the more you understand, there’s sort of inside baseball stuff that I think big time sports fans can get special things from. 

What I found is really people who knew nothing about football loved the movie first for its dramatic impact. Then beyond that, there’s a sense of learning something new. Women particularly seem drawn to it because it’s almost like they were learning a secret society or a secret language and found themselves understanding it.

Have you heard of Draft Day uniting any couples where maybe one of them wasn’t into sports and now finally gets what their partner is passionate about?

I certainly received a lot of online comments from people who basically said maybe what you just said. “Now I get it. I’m actually going to try to pay more attention on Sundays when my boyfriend is watching the game.”

Could there be a Baseball Draft Day or Basketball Draft Day?

I’ve done my Draft Day movie and it was a very satisfying experience, both making it and beyond that. I became closer with Kevin Costner. He’s just a wonderful guy. I think when there are those sort of human benefits as well, it’s lovely.

Kevin did several baseball movies. Was he as into football?

I don’t know. He loved doing the movie. I know that. When we had dinner last night, he said it again so I’m going to tend to believe him. He loved the idea of playing this general manager. I think he really understood that character.

Now this news about a female Ghostbusters really blew up. Were you surprised by the reaction to that?

I think it’s like everything with Ghostbusters. It seems to get a lot of attention which seems to indicate that there’s a lot of love for the original movies and for these ideas. I’m almost, not embarrassed but it’s been difficult for all of us that this process has gone on for so long. It’s sort of reminiscent of how long it took to make the second one after the first one. 

Is this the same script we talked about in April that is not a reboot, but new characters in the Ghostbusters world?

I’m not really going to comment on the specifics because things have shifted so much over the years. I had a very nice meeting with Paul Feig about it and I think he’s got some very good ideas, and we’ll see where we go from here.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.


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