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'Ghostbusters' maker: Once upon a time, I loved the internet

Director Paul Feig once had a "lovely relationship with the internet." That's before trolls attacked his reboot with four female leads.

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Director Paul Feig says online abuse of his film and his cast changed his relationship with the internet.

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Paul Feig has learned two lesson about internet trolls: Do not listen and -- failing that -- do not engage.

Feig's "Ghostbusters" collided with an unsavory side of the internet last year, when critics of his decision to reboot the classic movie with an all-female principal cast stoked a trolling campaign. The film's trailer became one of the most disliked clips ever on YouTube, and online abuse directed at star Leslie Jones motivated her to quit Twitter in protest.

The online flaming exemplified a persistent predicament of the internet's anonymity and free discourse: It can shine light on movements trying to help people, but it can also amplify hate.

"Before 'Ghostbusters,' I had this sort of lovely relationships with the internet," he said Tuesday night onstage with "Saturday Night Live" comedian Michael Che at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. "If I could go back in the time machine, I just wouldn't read it ... The biggest mistake I made was I took on one of the trolls."

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Feig, who is known for making hit comedies with female leads like "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat," said that a less-publicized bright side to his "Ghostbusters" casting choice is women viewers who tell him the film shaped their aspirations about pursuing science and technology.

Women have told him "if I had this movie when I was a kid, I would have been an engineer right now," he said.

"I would love to do more than that."

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