The Evolution of “Ghostbusters III” in Hollywood
In case you missed it earlier this week, the internet imploded with the announcement of the female Ghostbusters to be played by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. This news built upon the already widespread knowledge that the film was going to be a female-driven reboot of the franchise.
The problem with rebooting something like Ghostbusters is that it’s held as one of the greatest films ever made, and we as nostalgic fans will do anything to protect it. Ghostbusters II was released in 1989. Think about that – a franchise that last had a new movie in theaters 26 years ago still has legions of fans clamoring for any new information related to it. When a movie reaches this level, there’s almost no way to make a sequel, let alone a reboot, that will please all – the audience, the studio, and the creators. Ghostbusters II was disliked by many critics and fans – especially compared to the first film. Over the years, Bill Murray has voiced his Ghostbusters II resentment numerous times citing it as one of the primary reasons he’s uninterested in doing another sequel. Ghostbusters II has eventually found its fans who have even defended its merits at length. Even the idea of a Ghostbusters III without Bill Murray is a difficult proposition.
Personal note: I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan; I’ve got Stay Puft and the Ghostbusters logo as tattooed proof on my leg. Being a super fan can sometimes make it hard to keep an open mind towards a reboot, and recent reboots and remakes haven’t had the best track record. Take Robocop, Total Recall, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for example; all merely a shadow of their former incarnations.
Ghostbusters III has a lengthy story about its inability to leave development hell. There have been numerous reports that a script was finished, that it was close to going into production, or some casting news was announced that seemed concrete, yet never panned out.
Around the end of 1996, Dan Aykroyd was supposedly working on a script for 3 and was in talks with Harold Ramis to reprise his role and direct. In 1997, IMDB briefly listed a Ghostbusters III page with Chris Farley, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd attached. 1998 was again filled with rumors featuring Will Smith starring alongside Ramis & Aykroyd with a projected 1999 release. In 1999, Entertainment Weekly sat down with Harold Ramis to talk about Ghostbusters rumors, but that confirmed nothing except that he wanted to do another movie. Already the film was stuck spinning its wheels around Hollywood.
Ghostbusters III rumors went dark until 2002 when IGN posted a review of a 1999 screenplay called “Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent”, written by Dan Aykroyd. The story seemed to be much darker – focused on visiting hell itself and meeting The Devil. The article also quoted Aykroyd as saying the film wouldn’t be made because “The cost is too excessive for the studio to see it be economically feasible.”
Our next update wouldn’t come until 2005. Ramis then said in an interview with InFocus Magazine that a new or revised script was written called Ghostbusters in Hell, and he wanted Ben Stiller to star in it. Murray was written out, and the remaining Ghostbusters were to be transported to a hell that looks just like New York City, but with all the worst things about modern urban life magnified. It never went anywhere.
Three more years passed, and Ramis again confirmed in a September 2008 interview with the Chicago Tribune that a third movie is coming along now with Judd Apatow attached to produce. This caused eight months of rumors that the film would feature Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, or James Franco. In March of 2009, Judd Apatow then said he was not producing it, and that again ended the rumors.
In June of 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released. Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson all returned to lend their voices to the game, and Dan Aykroyd even was quoted as saying, “This is essentially the third movie.”
Later in 2009, Ramis again confirmed Ghostbusters 3 in an interview with Heeb stating plans to shoot in 2010 with a release in 2011, but again, nothing ever came of it. In 2012, Ivan Reitman starting mentioning the idea of a reboot or remake, and things started looking up after a 2013 Larry King Live interview where Aykroyd provided new plot details. Everyone started getting optimistic again that the team would return.
Sadly, on February 24th, 2014, we lost Harold Ramis. That was the end for Ivan Reitman, who no longer had any interest in trying to direct a new Ghostbusters movie.
The reboot moves on
Shortly after Ivan Reitman left the director’s chair for a producer role, Sony said they were moving forward with the project and would look for a new director. Lots of rumors floated around until Paul Feig officially announced via Twitter he was onboard in September, and first dropped the bomb that it would be an all-female cast.
Paul Feig is known for his female-driven films like Bridesmaids and The Heat. He’s fought back at responses multiple times saying that the female cast is not a gimmick. The news might have been more widely accepted if the Ghostbusters team were potentially made up of men and women. The ideal of a mixture of both in the original universe training alongside Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore could have been phenomenal, but it’s pretty clear this is the route Feig has not taken. Like it or loathe it, we have a new story, and new, female Ghostbusters.
Drew McWeeny, a critic at HitFix and Ain’t it Cool News, recently provided the first rumored details on the film’s plot –
“Erin Gabler and Abby Bergman are the first two leads, and as the film begins, they are former colleagues. They co-wrote a book about the paranormal together, then went in different directions. Erin works for Columbia, and she’s getting close to tenure, while Abby is more involved in the pursuit of ghosts, with a new partner named Jillian. The last role is Patty, an MTA subway ticket employee who stumbles across the main ghost in the film. When our new Ghostbusters post some videos of what they’re doing online, Martin Heiss – a professional supernatural debunker – becomes determined to prove that they are fakes, and he ends up at odds with the team.”
Melissa McCarthy is widely popular and can admittedly sell tickets regardless of how ridiculous a movie she’s in. Why she’d receive an Oscar nomination for crapping in a sink in Bridesmaids, is anyone’s guess, but she does have a unique anything-goes comedic style that could potentially fit well in a Ghostbusters film. If you’ve seen one of her comedies, you’ve seen them all, but she could bring her childlike enthusiasm to the Ghostbusters world. Her recent flicks like Tammy have reduced her to simple slapstick trash, but she’s also had more dramatic turns in films like 2014’s St. Vincent (incidentally, co-starring with Bill Murray, who publicly lauded McCarthy and Wiig on an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman).
Kristen Wiig hit a high in 2011 with Bridesmaids, but then took a bold step in her career by avoiding similar high-profile comedies. She could have easily gone the Melissa McCarthy route and cranked out the same comedy over and over again, but she has worked to try different genres like the recent flick The Skeleton Twins. Wiig has a very Bill Murray-like serious sense of humor, which would allow her to fit in very well as a Peter Venkman-type character.
Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are both mostly unknown outside of their recent work on “Saturday Night Live”. It’s unusual that Sony would cast two people who haven’t worked in leading role capacities, but relative unknowns can sometimes pay off. It’s always great to see new talent because someone could have easily been cast on name value alone. At the same time, Ghostbusters might not really be a franchise to test the waters with to see if someone can hold a leading role.
So how does the old team feel about the new team?
Shortly after the official casting announcement, Dan Aykroyd spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and gave his seal of approval. Ernie Hudson, on the other hand, appears to not be enjoying this news by posting merely “No Comment” on his Facebook page.
So in the wake of this, the key thing is we can still love the original Ghostbusters, which will never change. We should try our best to reserve judgment until a trailer comes out, and hope beyond hope that the film isn’t turned into a mockery of what it once was. We might all agree that it’s unlikely to be as good as the originals, but we can hold on to hope that Feig will provide a new and interesting installment into the Ghostbusters’ franchise.
The next Ghostbusters film will be in theaters next summer, on July 22, 2016.
Are you furious or optimistic about the next Ghostbusters? What would be your ideal Ghostbusters reboot story and cast? Sound off in the comments below, and thanks for reading!