The sad news broke today that Ivan Reitman has dropped out of directing Ghostbusters 3 on the heels of the much sadder news of Harold Ramis' death. Reitman tells Deadline that while he's thrilled with the new Etan Cohen script for the proposed sequel, he just doesn't feel up to it. What this thousand-word article announcing that Sony is eyeing an early 2015 production date for the film fails to mention is that Ghostbusters 3 is probably never going to get made.
The film was a pie-in-the-sky proposition before the tragic loss of Ramis, who as one of the four original Ghostbusters could have played some role in any of the mooted sequel scripts that have flown around. That's because Bill Murray, arguably the most necessary piece of any new Ghostbusters project, has long insisted that he has no interest in participating. Reitman, who directed the first two films and was long interested in making a third, both addresses and doesn't address Murray's feelings in the Deadline interview.
"The first [script] was done by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, and me, Harold and Dan [Aykroyd] helped them on it," he said. "It was a really good script, but then it became clear that Bill really didn’t want to do another Ghostbusters and that it was literally impossible to find him to speak to for the year or two we tried to get it going. When Bill finally…well, he never actually said no, but he never said yes, so there was no way to make that film."
Worry not, though—Sony has a new script, and it totally doesn't need Bill Murray at all! Listen to Reitman: "I kept pushing forward on the Etan Cohen [script] and we now have a draft that is very good, that the studio is very excited about…It’s a version of Ghostbusters that has the originals in a very minor role."
One assumes that part with the originals, minor roles or not, will need to be changed since neither Ramis nor Murray nor Ernie Hudson (who called Ramis the "glue" of any new project) will be participating (Dan Aykroyd, bless him, has always been perfectly enthusiastic for a sequel). Sony seems aware of this and has just decided to press on. There's no mention of further changes to Cohen's script, but it sounds more and more like Reitman will be the producer on a Ghostbusters project that essentially amounts to a reboot, with younger actors taking on new roles. The idea of just Aykroyd being there to pass the torch is too depressing to contemplate, but if Sony really decides it's worth it, that could happen.
After making Draft Day (which is out next month) and attending Ramis' funeral, Reitman says he went to Sony and said he just wanted to produce the new Ghostbusters and help them "find a really good director." They have a shortlist, and then they'll find a new cast, and then the whole thing will start shooting in early 2015, he figures. "I’m not going to say how many Ghostbusters there will be in the new cast, but we are determined to retain the spirit of the original film, and I am pleased that all of this seems to have happened organically," he said, although "organic" is not the word I'd use for what's happening here.
Just to recap: the news here is that Ghostbusters 3 lost one of the original cast members, described as the glue of the project, and that as a result its director has decided to step aside. Because of this, Sony is more emboldened than ever to get it into theaters, and sees this as an opportunity to build an exciting new franchise. Shorter version: I'll believe Ghostbusters 3 is happening when I'm sitting in a theater watching it.