For over twenty years, Dan Aykroyd has had a dream. A dream of a third film in the “Ghostbusters” franchise. While the 1989 sequel was poorly received, there’s been enough love for the seminal original that an interest has always been there, although Aykroyd’s 1990s script for a third installment was deemed too expensive. In recent years, however, it looked like it might actually become a reality: a 2009 video game reunited the original cast, including Bill Murray, and Sony commissioned a new script from “Bad Teacher” writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, with original director Ivan Reitman set to return.
But it’s been years without any real movement, with Aykroyd, the project’s major supporter, making frequent appearances in the press to talk it up, while also acknowledging that Murray was reluctant to return to one of his trademark roles, and hadn’t even the read script. Indeed, recent reports suggested that Murray had returned a draft of the script shredded, a story that, while denied by most, certainly rings true.
Well, it looks like Ackroyd may have finally accepted reality. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the actor/paranormal enthusiast/vodka salesman says that the project has stalled, and that he’s acknowledged that Murray is unlikely to ever do the movie. Aykroyd tells the paper that “At this point it’s in suspended animation. The studio, the director Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis feel there must be a way to do it, but Bill Murray will not do the movie. He doesn’t want to be involved. He’s got six kids, houses all over America. He golfs in these tournaments where they pay him to turn up and have a laugh. He’s into this life and living it. I know we’d have a lot of fun [but] I can’t be mad at him. He’s a friend first, a colleague second. We have a deep personal relationship that transcends business and he doesn’t want to know.”
One has to applaud Murray for his integrity here: the chances of a third “Ghostbusters” matching the original are slim, particularly with a script from the guys who wrote “Year One.” Still, it may not stop the threequel; Aykroyd seemingly repeats recent reports that he might recast Murray’s role, the single worst idea in the history of the movies. He says that Sony are still interested, but also states that he won’t make the film for the wrong reasons: “We’re not going to do a movie that exploits the franchise. The script has to be perfect. I’m the cheerleader, but I’m only one voice in the matter. It’s a surety that Bill Murray will not do the movie, however there is still interest from the studio.” This goes against the word from early last year, which said that Sony wouldn’t greenlight the $150 million-budgeted project without Murray’s involvement.
One has to feel a little bad for Aykroyd, although he seems to have enjoyed himself on the Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis comedy “The Campaign,” calling it “very special.” We imagine that the idea of cutting their losses and leaning towards a reboot (perhaps with cameos from willing members of the original cast) is increasingly appealing to Sony. But as of right now, we’re living in a “Ghostbusters 3”-free world, and we can’t say we’re particularly upset about that.