Ghostbusters: It’s a towering comedy classic of the ‘80s with a killer pitch: three stumbling scientists set up a spook-catching business and end up saving the world.
Just saying the name is enough to raise a smile from those of us who grew up loving the adventures of Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston.
And it still holds up today, despite a distinctly dodgy (though not charm-fee) sequel and a raft of ‘toon spin-offs and merchandising opportunities.
For years now, we’ve been waiting to find out if the original team – Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and director Ivan Reitman – would return to deliver more Ecto-goodness.
It’s been a tough track back to the big screen but right now, it truly seems to be coming together again.
So what better time to take a trawl back through the ages and follow Ghostbusters 3’s tough journey from Hellbent to hell yes?[page-break]
It’s nine years after Ghostbusters 2 was greeted with critical jeers and far less box office success than its blockbuster parent.
Despite the apparent lack of enthusiasm for another Ghostbusters outing, Dan Aykroyd keeps plugging away at the idea, hoping to find some way for the team to return.
His idea? Literally hellish. Yes, he’s going to send the ‘Busters to the underworld.[page-break]
1999 – Dan’s first draft
Aykroyd’s idea posits Hell as a parallel New York (Manhellton, anyone?) facing a serious overcrowding problem.
In order to sort things out, the devil – here a Donald Trump-style mogul named Siffler who rules the place- starts sending evil souls back to reality.
Our heroes must journey to the underworld in order to stop Siffler’s evil plans.
Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had come up with a new concept for Ghostbusters, one designed to smoothly introduce a new team of young, thrusting ‘Busters who could carry the franchise weight from then on while keeping fans happy with liberal doses of the original crew.
According to Ramis, they know what they want to do: “Our dream plan is that Danny and I would produce it, I would direct it, and we would recruit some newer, younger, popular Ghostbusters to star.
Amongst the names rumoured at one time or another across the years? Ben Stiller, Chris Farley and Chris Rock. Actual truth to any of 'em? Zero.[page-break]
1999 – Back To Limbo
Yet while the screenplay’s complete, Aykroyd is now singing a different tune: “GB3 doesn't look like it's going to happen for the same reason they aren't going to make Men in Black 2,” he told Access Hollywood. "The cost is too excessive for the studio to see it to be economically feasible."
"It is a shame too because everyone wants to do it. Even Bill Murray said he would work a few days on it.”
Men In Black’s sequel, however, goes ahead, while Ghostbusters is effectively dead again. If only history could be changed…[page-break]
2001 – Murray turns them down
Despite previous reports that Murray would crop up in the movie for at least a cameo, 2001 saw Dan Aykroyd’s mood get even lower.
"No, we can't do another one – the rights are all tied up, he tells the Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the problem is not the studio, but…
"Other parties. It's the Ghostbusters. It would be nice to get us all to agree, but impossible. There's a reason Bill won't agree. Someone once didn't agree with him. Now he doesn't agree with someone. Listen, Bill is a friend of mine and just because he doesn't want to explore this concept is no reason to impair our friendship. He wants to move on to new work and new things. I can't blame him."
Some of the new things Murray has since worked on? Osmosis Jones. Charlie’s Angels. Both Garfields.
And some good movies, too. But come on, Bill![page-break]
2002 - The (script) reviews are in…
The screenplay lingers on the shelf for a few years until, in true ‘net style, someone finds it. The reaction is not kind. IGN’s script reviewer Stax gets his hands on a copy and reports, “I just can't say that I liked the GB3 yarn that this draft offered.”
The problem? Those new recruits Aykroyd and Ramis hoped would power new movies.
We’re apparently introduced to Franky, a body-pierced, tough New Jersey punker; Lovell, a dread-locked dude; Moira, a pretty but uptight gymnast and science grad; and Carla, a Latino beauty. There’s also Nat, a prepubescent genius whose powerful brain has made his head abnormally large. Despite his youth, Nat serves as a supervisor for the new GBs.
Unfortunately, according to Stax, the young team members have zero chemistry, no conflicts and little personality of their own.[page-break]
2002 – Ramis keeps things light
As the GB3 script continues to gather dust in a studio vault (when it’s not being ripped apart online), Harold Ramis keeps being asked what happened.
During press for mob psychoanalysis comedy Analyze That, Ramis joked that he’d come up with a plan for the future. "We're going to combine the franchises. Bob (De Niro) thinks he's seeing ghosts so Billy (Crystal) calls the Ghostbusters.
"And these three very aging fat guys come in in really tight jumpsuits.”
Don’t even joke about it, HR…[page-break]
2007 – We Ain’t Afraid Of No ‘Toon?
One of the biggest sticking points for the new GB film from the outset has been its sprawling, hell-set concept.
In February 2007, Dan Aykroyd seem to have hatched an idea that would make it work – a CGI film.
Yes, given what the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks have been able to do with the pixels and hard drives, the idea of a stygian Noo Yoik seems feasible.
And it even appeals to Bill Murray.
Sadly, nothing more is heard about the animated idea.[page-break]
2007 – Get In The Game
While we chew our nails waiting for news of something – anything – relating to Ghostbusters, moves are quietly afoot on another front.
But while all seems well on the gaming front, the console version of Ghostbusters goes through almost as many false starts and shutdowns as the third film itself.
First, Universal’s Vivendi arm buys the rights to the game from Sony. It announces that Aykroyd and Ramis will write the script and almost everyone – even Bill Murray – will return to lend their voices.
Then the team working on the game announces that they’re shutting it down. Then, they’re not. Then… Who knows?
Finally, the game is rescued by Atari, which proudly trumpets a June 2009 release date across all platforms.
Fingers crossed, people…[page-break]
2008 – Fool us once ...
Comic Con, July 2008. We’re told to expect a “big announcement” about the future of Ghostbusters, featuring Ramis, Aykroyd and possibly Hudson.
Could this be word that the new movie is finally getting off the ground?
Sadly, it proves to be a damp squib PR event for the game, which though exciting, is no third movie. And the actors don’t turn up at all.
We still have the marshmallow-flavoured lip balm key chain, though.
So that’s nice.[page-break]
2008 - Rogen and co?
Rumours start to swirl that Judd Apatow could be leveraging some of his producing power – and friendship with Ramis – to bring Ghostbusters back with the likes of Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd in the lead roles.
The ‘net predictably goes nuts, with reactions ranging from the horrified to the mildly annoyed.
Still, it's so far proved to be exactly that- rumours.[page-break]
2008 – Ghostbusters. Yes, we’re back!
Finally! After nearly a decade of waiting, Sony announces that it has hired Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky – two of the main writers from the US version of The Office to pen a brand new screenplay.
Their involvement also comes after they worked on the script for Year One, directed by one Harold Ramis.
While it appears to be ditching most of Aykroyd and Ramis epic hell storyline, it is maintaining the young-Ghostbusters-take-over idea.
At least, that was Variety’s take. The Hollywood Reporter called it a reboot, which is a truly appalling idea.
Fortunately, it seems that the torch-passing idea is the more likely scenario, though without Judd Apatow’s involvement.
We really want another film, but more importantly, we want it to be good. No, great. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
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