Much like the R-rated Spawn movie Todd McFarlane keeps saying is going to happen but most likely never will, Ghostbusters 3 is a movie that is now apparently being kept barely alive through the sheer force of will belonging to the most vocal of its proponents, Dan Aykroyd. Ivan Reitman, the director of the first two Ghostbusters movies, and Harold Ramis, Aykroyd’s co-star and co-writer on the original 1984 comedy blockbuster and its less-successful 1989 sequel, have openly expressed interest in doing a third movie, while Bad Teacher scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg have written a screenplay that would feature the original Ghostbusters passing their proton packs on to successors who would be younger and more accessible to modern movie comedy audiences.
Despite the interest and development on the Ghostbusters 3 script, Sony Pictures so far has yet to officially green-light the new movie. The most likely reason is because Bill Murray, whose career got the biggest boost from the success of the franchise, has been the only core member of the team reluctant to commit to another go-around chasing supernaturals menaces in the Big Apple. Murray’s involvement with Ghostbusters 3 has vacillated ever since the project was first announced several years ago, although he did join his cast-mates in 2009 to provide the voices for their beloved characters in the Ghostbusters video game. Recently, the actor, who still remains a heavyweight in the world of comedy despite spending the past decade focusing on more dramatic roles, was rumored to have shredded his copy of the Ghostbusters 3 script and returned it to Aykroyd and company with a note that said (in so many words) that no one wanted to see a bunch of fat, old men chasing ghosts.
Aykroyd revealed the current status of Ghostbusters 3 in an interview with the British website Telegraph:
“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.”
So the erstwhile Dr. Ray Stantz has just confirmed what many pretty much already knew: Bill Murray is officially out of Ghostbusters 3, and as Aykroyd puts it he won’t be regretting that decision any time soon:
“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.”
Murray’s status as a colleague to Aykroyd must be a very distant second because the two of them have never collaborated on anything outside of the Ghostbusters franchise since they both left Saturday Night Live. In the end, Murray’s refusal to have anything to do with further adventures in the busting of ghosts isn’t deterring Aykroyd from going forth with the movie:
“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.”
I can guarantee you that the interest from the studio just went kaput.
As much as I love the original Ghostbusters (the sequel not so much, although I have fond memories of seeing it on the big screen the evening my hometown of Richmond, VA was hit by a hail storm that plunged most of the city into darkness), I have to agree with Bill Murray. The Ghostbusters movie series is dead. Gone. Never coming back. Maybe one day some blasphemous studio executive will green-light the inevitable remake, but a sequel is never going to happen. No Murray, no movie. But it’s important for Dan Aykroyd to believe that Ghostbusters 3 will someday be made because outside of fleeting guest appearances on television and the occasional movie role the only Hollywood exposure he gets these days is by milking the movies and characters he helped to create until our memories of the originals are forever tainted. Remember, this is the guy who thought Blues Brothers 2000 was a good idea.
But if Aykroyd thinks Ghostbusters 3 will realistically be made in his lifetime without the participation of Bill Murray, he’s even more delusional than we all thought. Murray is not only the true star of Ghostbusters, but his character is the one people are always quoting. Back in the late 1980s it was Murray who was holding up the beginning of production on Ghostbusters 2 because he wasn’t sure at the time if he wanted to return to the role of Peter Venkman. Therefore Aykroyd can’t just re-cast Murray’s role and expect fans of the movies to accept it. Sony Pictures for one wouldn’t have any of it because the project would instantly lose whatever credibility it may have had. You can’t replace Bill Murray. It’s impossible.
In the meantime Ghostbusters 3 may still be chugging along strong as far as Dan Aykroyd is concerned, but for the rest of us fans of the franchise this project is not only dead but is haunting the movie news sites and the halls of Sony Pictures until it is trapped and locked in the containment unit of development Hell.