On June 8, the Ghostbusters
franchise will turn 25. Since the original film's release back in '84 the boys in gray have taken on the paranormal in a sequel, comic book titles, cartoon series, video games, and even one out-of-print novel.
Despite the franchise's popularity, the past decade hasn't been kind to the "Ghostbusters." Like the Indiana Jones
and Star Wars
films, whispers of an impending new installment ran the gauntlet of the internet rumor mill, bogging down the project with half-truths and unverified reports in the process. This is the part where a pun about the franchise dying and coming back as a ghost might be appropriate.
In September 2008, Columbia Pictures announced plans for "Ghostbusters 3" to hit theaters sometime in 2010. Maybe. You can never tell with these things.
When it comes to film rumors, ones centered on the Ghostbusters franchise rarely pan out. It's been ten years since Ghostbusters' originator, co-writer and star Dan Aykroyd
penned his script for a third installment of the series, and for years the only attention it drew came in the form of the occasional back-page news report or soft ball tenth interview questions with the cast. The Ghostbusters, it seems, just couldn't catch a break.
The difficulty behind making Ghostbusters 3 goes back to the 1989 sequel's troubled shoot. Wanting to cash in on the franchise before the positive buzz from the first film dissipated, Columbia reportedly pressured director Ivan Reitman
along with Aykroyd and co-writer/Egon Harold Ramis
into the film despite a reluctance to expand on what they conceived as a stand-alone film.
"Ghostbusters 2" took in roughly half of the original's gross (still over $100 million), and received mixed reviews, leaving those involved with the feeling of slime on their faces. During a Q&A session at 2008's Fantastic Fest, Bill Murray
hinted at his displeasure with Ghostbusters 2, expressing frustration from the film's loss of characters in a special effects white out.
"The first movie had like 60 plate shots. The second movie had like hundreds," he said. "Those guys got their hands on the script early, and it was gone. It went away. It was hard to wrangle because it was tied all around the effects without the story or the characters coming first."
Bill Murray & Dan Aykroyd's Involvement
The notoriously private Murray always seemed reluctant to embrace a third Ghostbusters production. As rumors about a new film began to appear, the Oscar nominated actor's involvement was enigmatic. Rumors surrounding Murray's return as Peter Venkman, an academic who earned two PhDs because he never bothered leaving school, have ranged from him agreeing to appear as a CG ghost, him doing voice work in an animated film, and his complete dissociation with the project.
Back in 2001, Aykroyd plugged his Ghostbusters 3 script to the Chicago Sun-Times
noting that Murray was a major force in holding up production. "Well, there's a reason Bill won't agree," he said "Someone once didn't agree with him. Now he doesn't agree with someone… He wants to move on to new work and new things. I can't blame him."
Aykroyd may share some of the blame in the generally ambivalent attitude of his fellow Ghostbusters. Early script reviews claimed that Aykroyd's draft, titled "Ghostbusters: Hellbent," felt odd and constricted by technical jargon and stale characters. The script picks up with the aged Ghostbusters retiring and leaving the busting work to four newcomers. When inhabitants from an overcrowded Hell get evicted into the living world, the new busters must journey into a bizarro Hell version of Manhattan called "Manhellton." where they battle it out with.
In interviews Aykroyd enthusiastically describes his version of Hell to be filled with blue minotaurs, massive obsidian skyscrapers, and giant pit in place of Central Park. Taking place of Gozer the Gozerian and Vigo the Carpathian (aka Vigo the Cruel, Vigo the Torturer, Vigo the Despised, and Vigo the Unholy) is a Donald Trump
based netherworld real-estate mogul named Lou Siffler (Like Lucifer. Get it? It's a pun.)
If that all sounds convoluted, overblown, and confusing then you aren't alone. Aykroyd spoke of his script often in interviews and threw in rumors about popular actors' involvement at random. Between Aykroyd and Ramis, there's been talk of Knocked Up
director Judd Apatow
producing the film with Ben Stiller
, Seth Rogen
, Steve Carell
, Paul Rudd
, Romany Malco
and others set to star. When nothing came of this, Aykroyd set the internet ablaze once again with a rumor that Ghostbusters 3 would be a CG film that would accommodate both his ambitious vision of a Hellish Manhattan and Bill Murray's bullheaded resistance to the project. The CG movie then morphed into a video game, which was cancelled, and then brought back with a June 2009 release date. One thing's for certain, it's pretty clear that nobody knows what the hell anyone's talking about.
Actual facts about the current status of Ghostbusters 3 are slim, but they exist. Columbia Pictures signed on NBC's "The Office
" writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky to pen a new installment with Reitman, Aykroyd and Ramis providing some oversight. Ramis seems confident that the young scribes can churn out a solid script, which isn't an empty endorsement considering his history with the WGA award winning writers. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky met while working as low level gophers on Ramis's Bedazzled
, and have since worked with the sixty-four-year-old director on three episodes of "The Office," and co-wrote the screenplay for Ramis's upcoming "Year One." Despite a painful lack of details, involvement from "The Office" writers has even caught Bill Murray's attention:
"I think the wounds from Ghostbusters 2 have healed, and supposedly they have hired two guys from 'The Office' to write a script. So that could work. I think that's a good idea to get a fresh look."
Hopefully it will be a fresh look that doesn't involve minotaurs.
Story by Kris King
Starpulse contributing writer