“We’ll try again,” Bill Murray said recently on David Letterman, alluding to the status of the long-gestating “Ghosbusters 3” at Columbia Pictures. And so what’s happening with the proposed after-the-fact threequel? Well, while Murray didn’t exactly spell it out, recent news seems to confirm all suspicions: the most recent drafts of “Ghostbusters 3” have been thrown in the trash and inveterate “Ghosbusters” champion and producer Dan Aykroyd is starting over.
While it’s unclear if Akyroyd has hired unpaid interns to do his monkey-work for him, in a recent interview with ABC News (via Bloody Disgusting), the actor said that writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (writers and producers of “The Office,” “Year One“) are no longer involved with the project, and a new cadre of writers have been hired to (re)pen the screenplay. Aykroyd told ABC a “new writing staff [is] working on it now. It’s got to be perfect. That’s the whole thing. There’s no point in doing it unless it’s perfect.”
Aykroyd may be being disingenous. What’s really the issue is that all four members of the original “Ghostbusters” team, Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and director Ivan Reitman, have script approval over whether “Ghostbusters 3” goes forward, and while it appears that Murray could simply waive his rights — he’s suggested in the past they move on without him; clearly everyone wants the actor to at least make some appearance in the picture — so far he’s been the most vocal hold-out, often suggesting the screenplay drafts haven’t been up to snuff.
Aykroyd’s written several “Ghostbusters 3” drafts over the year that he thought were perfect, or good enough at any rate, but they’ve never been good enough to convince Murray. “You need to have a really good script. It’s hard,” Murray said on Letterman. “Even the second ‘Ghostbusters’ wasn’t as much fun for me as the first one. It’s hard to make a sequel. That first one was really funny.” Clearly the man has high standards.
But what is the franchise’s viability at this point? “Ghostbusters II” arrived in 1989, so even if a third installment would go into production this year and come out next (not going to happen, just saying…) a “Ghostbusters 3” would arrive 24 years after the last film. And yes, it’s a pop culture touchstone film (at least the first one anyway), but do audiences truly care at this point? With video games, costumes, animated series and comics in play over the decades, clearly Sony/Columbia does believe the franchise is a potentially lucrative one. Or at least one with enough nostalgia to wring some more money out of. They have given Aykroyd and company money to develop a script over the past two or three years, after all, and the plan most likely would be to set a new franchise in motion (Aykroyd, Ramis and Murray aren’t exactly A-listers now and a full blown movie starring them would likely be akin to “Cocoon” or even worse, “Space Cowboys“).
Moreover, the last few years of the picture’s development have been rather publicly embarrassing, with rumors of Murray sending Aykroyd a shredded screenplay as his response to its quality, and further reports of Aykroyd calling Murray and asking him to stop trashing the project in the media. While it’s only a small part of the public (film blog readers and film industry folks) who are likely aware of its problems, there’s no denying that all the flailing around makes “Ghostbusters 3” a no-win situation and hurts the brand. Then again, your mom probably doesn’t know or care at this point.
When was the last time a franchise was revived 25 years after the fact? (And let’s not count the 16 years for “Star Wars” since it was a prequel with a mainly new cast). All of this begs the question that many of us in the film blogosphere have asked and often asked ad nauseum: Does anyone care about a “Ghostbusters 3” film? And more importantly, who besides Aykroyd, the creative team and Sony actually want to see this film? Discuss.