Ghostbusters III… so what happened?

So Ghostbusters was an amazing success that spawned a very much loved franchise. From video games and toys to cartoons and cooking aprons. T-shirts and hats to Slimer based drinks and even Stay-Puft marshmallows.

The Ghostbusters logo was put onto pretty much everything in the mid 80s to early/mid 90s and we loved it. Us fans even tolerated the distinctly average sequel film, Ghostbusters II. We just could never get enough Ghostbusters. The Ghostbusters franchise started to wane though the mid and late 90s and everyone believed that as far as movie go, the franchise was all done and dusted. But there was something every die hard Ghostbusters fan wanted…

GB III

We didn’t care how old the guys were getting, we just wanted to see them back on the big screen one more time. And do you know something… it almost happened several times. A Ghostbusters III was being worked on many times over the years but for one reason or another, it was just never meant to be. So here, I’m going to take a look a the many failed attempts at getting a Ghostbusters III off the ground before everything went wrong and the decision was made to remake/reboot the franchise instead. Lets start at the very beginning, I hear that’s a very good place to start.

Ray

It was the early-mid 90s when the rumours began with Dan in interviews like this one from Playboy in August 1993:

Playboy: “Will you continue to make sequels, whether based on the Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, Coneheads or others?

Dan Aykroyd:As long as there is something new to do with them and it’s enjoyable. It’s kind of nice to have built-in franchises. The one I don’t think we’ll necessarily further exploit is Ghostbusters. It looks like that’s about had its run.

Playboy:Because Ghostbusters II did poorly?

Dan Aykroyd: “Yeah. It opened and Batman opened the next weekend and wiped us out that summer. Although we made a good movie, it just wasn’t as commercially successful as everybody thought it would be. If I could get that team together, it would be a real dream, because I think there’s a great story to be told. But it won’t be for a while.

Hmmmmm. While Dan says here he didn’t want to ‘further exploit’ Ghostbusters. On the same subject, he does also say it would be great to get that team back together and there is a great story to be told. So he must have been thinking about a possible return even back in 1993. Well we did get a Blues Brothers sequel, but what about that Ghostbusters III?

What about this interview from WWOR Channel 9 news sometime in February 1994:

Pat Collins:Raise your hands if you want another Ghostbusters movie. Dan says it could happen.

Dan Aykroyd:Ah, it might happen. I’ve got a story in mind that I’m thinking about. So, we’ll see, we’ll see. It’s certainly something I always wanted to do. It’s just getting the other players together.

So Dan had a story idea for another film and this got the fans riled up with excitement. Ghostbusters III looked like it was going to happen after all. Then, adding even more fuel to the fire was a little cameo Dan made in Casper (1995).

Showing up in full Ghostbusters regalia and even with the (Ray) Stantz name-tag and all. Dan only appeared in a very quick, few seconds cameo. So quick was the cameo that he didn’t even bother to shave his moustache. But there was no mistaking it, he was most definitely playing Ray Stantz from Ghostbusters.

It seems it was this few seconds coupled with the afore mentioned interviews that got most fans hoping that perhaps soon, we would see an official Ghostbusters III. By that time, it had been 6 years since Ghostbusters II was released and it seemed about the right time to bring them back despite the lack of love for the sequel. We wanted a worthy Ghostbusters sequel, but little did we know just how much Dan wanted one too.

Back then, Dan had already been working on a Ghostbusters III script in the mid 90s. In fact, he wrote multiple scripts and revisions for the movie between the mid 90s up to the 2010s. Very little is known about all his various scripts but some information was relased by Dan himself regarding at least one version; Ghostbusters III: Hellbent. The basic synopsis for this film had the original Ghostbusters working with a recruit where they would end up travelling to hell. This version of hell was said to be a parallel universe kind of thing taking place in ‘Manhellton’, a hellish version of New York’s Manhattan.

The interviews kept coming over the years too.

Hollywood Online, 10th February, 1998:

Dan Aykroyd:Harold [Ramis] and I have a treatment that we really like. It’s just a matter of writing it now. We’re going to try to do it this summer. The concept is still strong and I think that Harold and I can pull it off, if we have the time.

The concept is that there’s a positive image of life and there’s a negative image of life. Hell is not some distant place, far away from this dimension or realm. Hell is right next door. It’s like those old tin-type photos where you turn them one way and they look positive, then you just flick them slightly and they look negative. That’s our concept. Given the right technology you could flip the switch and all of a sudden the positive that we see in this room suddenly becomes negative. It’s kind of neat.

We’re going to set it in New York and do a Hades version of New York, very close to life in the city as we perceive it now. You look down at the river and there’s a ferry of Wall Street commuters, except they’re being shoved off with pitchforks into the river which is now boiling blood. Flick it back and it’s just the Brooklyn Bridge and just a normal traffic jam. Carrying that through, I think we can have a lot of fun.

That sounds like Dan talking about the previously mentioned Ghostbusters III: Hellbent doesn’t it? So things were very much getting under way on Ghostbusters III by 1998. Yet is was also around this time when things started to fall apart. Though Dan Aykroyd wanted to make another film, others didn’t.
In early 1999, Harold Ramis started chipping in on all the Ghostbusters III rumours. By 1999, Ramis had built himself quite a respectable career as a writer and director with films like Groundhog Day (1993), Multiplicity (1996) and Analyze This (1999). He was just too busy with his own career to take on another project and often suggested that a Ghostbusters III would never happen with the original cast and that it was more of a hobby for Aykroyd than anything else. Plus there was the fact that Bill Murray was reluctant in coming back and so was director Ivan Reitman. In fact, it was reported that Bill Murry said of Dan’s idea that it was: “too crazy to comprehend.”

Egon

Entertainment Weekly Online interviewed Ramis on 19th February, 1999:

Harold Ramis:Dan and I talk about it on a regular basis, and he’s done some writing. The studio would love to make a deal, but they’re not sure who to make the deal with, since Bill is very elusive, and Ivan Reitman is kind of standing on the side. The 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.

More of the interview right here.

This sounds like a different idea to the previously mentioned Ghostbusters III: Hellbent and possibly one of Dan’s other ideas for the film instead. But while it seemed the original cast would not be back, or at least some of them wouldn’t, a Ghostbusters III seemed to be going ahead. In the summer of 1999 the website domain of http://www.ghostbusters3.com had been secured. Go to it now and it no longer exists, but at the time it would take you to Sony Pictures main website. An indication that back then Sony were possibly interested in making the film?

All through the rumours and speculation. Bill Murray was very much against making another Ghostbusters movie even insulting his friends Dan and Harold along the way. This all lead to tension and the idea to make a new film without Murray started to emerge.

The subject of Ghostbusters III was brought up again when Dan Aykroyd appeared on the television show: Access Hollywood on the 12th November, 1999:

Dan Aykroyd:Doesn’t look good right now, I’m sorry to say that.

Nancy O’Dell:How could they not possibly want to do it?

Dan Aykroyd:Because they’re trying to get bargains, they’re trying to get the next Blair Witch. But, you know, sometimes you have to seed for the big harvest to come in. You’re talking about billion dollar releases. Spend 120, make 500. They don’t see it that way.

Dan is referring to Sony Pictures just not wanting to spend millions and millions of dollars on an old franchise. At the time The Blair With Project was the big thing in Hollywood then with it’s ultra low budget of around $60.000, but bringing in $29 million in its opening weekend alone. Low budget films making big profits was what studios wanted and you couldn’t make a Ghostbusters III on $60.000. So it seemed that a Ghostbusters III was never going to happen… except it kind of eventually did and with pretty much all the main cast returning too.

GB cast

The whole Ghostbusters III thing died down for a few years, we had been teased with it since 1993 and it was now almost the year 2000 and still nothing. Ghostbusters III was dead, we were sure of it. It was all swept under the rug and everyone moved on. Then sometime early 2007, Dan Aykroyd brought up the subject of Ghostbusters III once more. Suggesting the film is finally going ahead based on his original Ghostbusters III: Hellbent idea. After all the years and all the waiting, everything seemed to be heading back to the early 90s again… haven’t we been here once before already? What was interesting about this news though was the fact Dan said it would be a fully animated CGI movie as opposed to live action. The idea behind it was that everyone was too old to play the roles convincingly any more, but they could provide the voices for the characters instead and the Ghostbusters could still be as young as they need to be. Even Bill Murray was interested as he hinted at Fantastic Fest 2008:

Bill Murray: “The wounds from Ghostbusters II are healed.”

Murray also revealed that writer/producers Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg (The Office) were said to have written a new script under the supervision of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Things were looking great for another Ghostbusters movie… finally. Live action or animated, we didn’t care, we were going to see the original cast back in an official sequel.

We never did get that CGI Ghostbusters movie, we go something else from that concept instead…

GBVG

In 2009, we got a fully licensed, fully voice acted Ghostbusters video game. The game was co-written by both Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis and it borrowed from Dan’s original Ghostbusters III: Hellbent concept as well as a few of his other early ideas like having a new member join the team. I’ll cover this game in more detail in my Ghostbusters in gaming later. But it is often said by Dan that this game is the true Ghostbusters III. You can even watch all the cut-scenes from the game as it’s own movie…

So that’s it then right, Ghostbusters III all sorted and everyone is happy? Well no, not quite.

Even after the release of the game, the rumours started once more that a movie sequel was still in the works. Bill Murray even got in on the fun and appeared in a cameo for the movie Zombieland (2009) where he plays himself and Ghostbusters is referenced several times. Murray also turned up in full Ghostbusters costume at the 2010 Scream Awards…

Bill

Everyone saw this as Bill hinting he had decided to be in a new Ghostbusters movie after all the negativity previously and a new hope was born after the success of the game that we may finally see a real Ghostbusters III movie with all the original cast.

It was around 2013 when the intention of making another movie began to circulate once more as the game had been so successful and proven there was still interest in the franchise. This time around writer Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder, Men In Black 3) was hired to pen the screenplay with the help of Dan and Harold. The idea was that the film would be a ‘passing the torch’ kind of movie where the original Ghostbusters hand over their legacy to an all new and younger team. Ben Stiller was even rumoured to be playing one of the lead roles. Everyone seemed happy with this idea… except Bill Murray who once again began his anti-Ghostbusters III campaign. It got to a point where Dan outright stated that the film is starting production in 2014 without Bill’s involvement. Things started looking up for Ghostbusters III again and were seemingly really moving forward. This is the closest we have ever got to an actual, live action Ghostbusters III. There was even a production date.

Dan Aykroyd:We’ve got a brilliant new writer on it and we’ll be passing the torch on to a new generation. We’re working on it to make it just right to satisfy our fans. I’m confident we’ll be in production in the next year.

There you go, Dan himself saying they will start production on Ghostbusters III in 2014. Unfortunately 2014 didn’t bring a new Ghostbusters movie, it brought tragedy. Sadly, Harold Ramis died and all excitement and expectations for the sequel died along with him. Nobody wanted to make a Ghostbusters III any more and the idea to reboot the franchise came about instead…

GB2016

That was the end. No more Ghostbusters III talk and only time will tell if this reboot/remake will reignite the franchise once more. Sadly we will never see the original four Ghostbusters in action again… but some of the cast from the original films do have cameos in this new film, including the elusive Bill Murray! Nobody expected that.

Thanks for reading and there is more Ghostbusting action in my behind the scenes look at the making of the first two films, quick overviews of both Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II as well as my look at Ghostbusters in gaming over the years.

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