The long rumored, long desired, third Ghostbusters movie has been through many iterations, scripts, concepts, ideas and whatnot. At long last it finally looks like the film could actually get made, and hence I welcome you to the latest arm of Movie Chronicles — our coverage of the Ghostbusters III movie development and production.
In May 1999 Dan Ackroyd scripted a 122 page first draft of the movie entitled “Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent”, with plans for it to be a Real D Cinema Digital 3-D feature, completely in CGI. “I can do all the things I wanted to do for much, much less money”. IGN have since commented on this script, suggesting it was too technical (‘more Jargon than jokes’) with all too similar characters. The outline of the 1999 Hellbent plot arc is described below, and it doesn’t sound all too convincing — ultimately it did not go into development:
Without revealing too many spoilers, Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent suggests that hell (portrayed as a stygian mirror image of The Big Apple dubbed “Manhellton”) has grown overcrowded and congested. As a result, hell is literally evicting people back into the world of the living in order to alleviate their congestion problem.Obviously, this isn’t good for our world so the Ghostbusters must use their latest technology to literally go to hell and ask the devil why he’s doing this and to see what they can do to make him stop. Naturally, the devil – portrayed here as a Donald Trump-like mogul named Siffler – has a secret agenda that leads to a grand conflict with our titular heroes. The Ghostbusters must once again save New York City from the evil forces of the afterlife. There is indeed a younger crop of Ghostbusters (or, as the script abbreviates it, GBs) introduced that perform much of the otherworldly legwork here. This new crew includes: 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. That’s all we ever get to know about these characters (we don’t even learn their last names!) and they’re our guides throughout most of the story.
Ghostbusters in Hell, 2005
This concept entered the news again in 2005 as Harold Ramis and Ackroyd attempted to get the ball rolling again. Ramis suggested:
“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.”
One of those young new stars could have been Ben Stiller as a Venkeman-esque replacement, as reported Hollywood.com.
Whilst the story stills keeps much of the 1999 draft; the Ghostbusters were still going to hell:
“We go to the hell side of Manhattan, downtown, Foley Square. It’s all where the cops are–they are all blue minotaurs. Central Park is this huge peat mine with green demons there, surrounded by black onyx thousand-foot high apartment buildings with classic red devils, very wealthy. We go and visit a Donald Trump-like character who is Mr. Sifler. Luke Sifler. Lu-cifer. So we meet the devil inside”
New Script, 2008
In September 2008, Columbia Pictures hired Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky to script a third Ghostbusters movie (Variety),
The studio has set “The Office” co-exec producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky to write a script for a film designed to bring back together the original cast of Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson.
Eisenberg and Stupnitsky have just finished working on “Year One”, a comedy directed by Harold Ramis and starring Michael Cera and Jack Black. The article also gives a fresh angle on the development ‘hell’ GB3 has seen,
An attempt to make a third installment of the franchise was stymied in the dealmaking stage. Sources said so much gross was pledged to the participants that it was next to impossible for the studio to make any money on a third installment.
As a result, until this script has been completed, the original cast will not be offered a new deal. Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman are all consulting on the project whilst Bill Murray has expressed an interest in reprising his role, AICN report from City of Ember screening:
But tonight he said that he knew “some writers from THE OFFICE” were taking a stab at the script right now (which we already knew) and that he thinks that’s a good start. He paused for a few seconds then said that he thinks enough time has passed and that “the wounds from GHOSTBUSTERS 2 are healed” and that he would definitely be into doing another GHOSTBUSTERS movie, stating that the first 40 minutes of the original film is some of the best stuff he’s been associated with and the whole shoot was an amazing amount of fun.
He also went on to say that his enthusiasm for Ghostbusters was heightened after recording the voice of Peter Venkman for the video game over the summer. In fact, he said he found himself walking down the street singing the Ghostbusters theme song and then thought people walking around him were going to start yelling at him to “get over yourself, Bill,” so he stopped… But the enthusiasm was there.
Harold Ramis also wrote to the Chicago Tribune:
“yes, columbia is developing a script for GB3 with my year one writing partners, gene stupnitsky and lee eisenberg. judd apatow is co-producing year one and has made several other films for sony, so of course the studio is hoping to tap into some of the same acting talent. aykroyd, ivan reitman and i are consulting at this point, and according to dan, bill murray is willing to be involved on some level. he did record his dialogue for the new ghostbusters video game, as did danny and i, and ernie hudson. the concept is that the old ghostbusters would appear in the film in some mentor capacity. not much else to say at this point. everyone is confident a decent script can be written and i guess we’ll take it from there.
More recently, that Judd Apatow comment has been in contention, with Production Weekly (Via /Film) recently suggesting that Apatow had officially signed on to produce, but this rumor has since been debunked by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures (Via LATimes):
We have some great new writers working on a new script, but Judd isn’t involved. Judging from the frenzy on the Internet, there still seems to be plenty of interest in the idea of doing another film, so we’re certainly taking that as a good sign.
It is still hoped that the movie shall enter production in late 2009. And that’s where we are now! The next step is word of the green-light on The Office scribes new script.