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Ivan Reitman on Ghostbusters III: ‘I Think There’s a Great Movie to Be Made with a New Cast’

It has been twenty-five years since paranormal hunters Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore defeated the forces of evil and saved New York City from an otherworldly danger in the often under appreciated Ghostbusters II and in that time fans have repeatedly demanded a third instalment of the classic series. Their adventures continued in the hit animated show The Real Ghostbusters, which ran from 1986 until 1991 and featured none of the original cast, with chat show host Arsenio Hall taking over as the voice of Winston, but over the years both producers and the cast have tried to resurrect the concept for a third outing but with little success.

Ghostbusters was first conceived by Saturday Night Live alumnus Dan Aykroyd, who wrote the script with The Blues Brothers co-star John Belushi in mind for the lead role of Peter Venkman. But following the advice of Ivan Reitman, who would ultimately direct the movie, the screenplay was rewritten with the help of Harold Ramis, a veteran of National Lampoon, who had previously worked with the filmmaker on Meatballs and Stripes. While Ghostbusters II had failed to match the critical and commercial success of its predecessor, rumours still began to circulate on a potential second sequel, with both Akyroyd and Ramis returning to write the script.

‘Dan and I talk about it on a regular basis, and he’s done some writing,’ Ramis told Entertainment Weekly in 1999 while promoting his latest directorial project Analyze This. ‘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.’

Following the passing of Ramis in February at the age of sixty-nine Reitman, who started his career directing low budget exploitation pictures and working as a producer for David Cronenberg, decided that he would no longer direct the project and with the hep of Sony’s Amy Pascal searched for a suitable replacement, eventually settling on Paul Feig of Bridesmaids fame. In a new interview with Collider, Reitman discussed the development of the screenplay, with drafts written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. ‘On the drafts that I’ve been supervising, there’s always been a very important female presence,’ he explains regarding the much-publicised decision to revamp the Ghostbusters formula to include a prominent female cast.

‘The studio is very interested in it, and certainly Aykroyd and I, and the late Harold Ramis until he passed away. We’ll see. I don’t like talking about it because this thing has been in such flux for so long that people, particularly online, are annoyed about it, and that’s not anybody’s desire or hidden plan. I think we were initially slowed down by Bill Murray’s reluctance to be involved.’ Despite his reluctance to commit to a third Ghostbusters feature, Murray did pay tribute to his role as Peter Venkman with a cameo in the 2009 horror comedy Zombieland, in which he played a fictitious version of himself who dresses as a Ghostbuster in the privacy of his mansion, only to be mistaken for a zombie by paranoid survivor Jesse Eisenberg and shot in the stomach.

Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray

Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray

‘We made the first Ghostbusters – it was one of the great movies, one of the great entertainments of all time. Then we made a second one; it was okay, right? So what are we going to do? Are we going to rush to make a third one?’ Murray told Dazed Digital earlier this year. ‘It would be great if you could make one that was as good as the first one,’ he continued. ‘It would probably be good if you could make one that was as good as the second one. But, you know, there was The Godfather. Then there was The Godfather II. And then there was The Godfather III. So if you want Godfather III…’

Reitman’s latest project Draft Day saw his first collaboration with Kevin Costner, whose recent roles in Man of Steel and the TV mini-series Hatfields & McCoys marked the beginning of what could be a comeback following over a decade of a commercial decline. While Rick Moranis’ retirement from acting casts doubt over the likelihood of his returning to the role of Louis Tully, the loveable geek who was possessed in the original movie and later became the reluctant hero of the sequel, there has also been speculation as to whether Sigourney Weaver will resurrect the character of Dana Barrett, Venkman’s love interest and frequent target of the supernatural. ‘I said, ‘I have one condition. I want my son Oscar to be a Ghostbuster, and he said, ‘We’ve already done that,” she recently revealed to Vanity Fair.

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