Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy franchise created in 1984. Its first installment was the film Ghostbusters, released on June 8, 1984 by Columbia Pictures. It centers on a group of eccentric New York City parapsychologists who investigate and capture ghosts for a living. For the film, the franchise licensed action figures, novelizations, and other original materials to be produced around the films' theme. After the initial success, they released original material in other fields such as comic books, video games, television series, and a theme park attraction.
Ghostbusters, the first film in the series, is a 1984 sci-fi comedy film about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists. After they are fired from a university, they start their own business investigating and capturing ghosts. Starring Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Hudson, it was released in the United States on June 8, 1984. The film grossed approximately US$240 million in the U.S. and over $50 million abroad during its theatrical run, more than the domestic gross of the second Indiana Jones installment, making it the most successful film in America that year (after re-releases), and one of the most successful comedies of the 1980s. The American Film Institute ranked it 28th in its list of the top 100 comedies of all time. IGN voted Ghostbusters the greatest comedy ever in 2005. Bravo (US TV channel) ranked Ghostbusters number 76 on their 100 Funniest Movies list in 2006.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
The second film, Ghostbusters II, was released in 1989. After the success of the first film and the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures pressured the producers to make a sequel. However, Aykroyd, Ramis and Reitman were uncomfortable with this, as the original film was intended to be conclusive and they wished to work on other projects. Eventually, they agreed and created a script.
Ghostbusters III (Cancelled)
During the 1990s, Aykroyd wrote a script for a potential third film in the series. The concept had the characters transported to an alternate version of Manhattan called Manhellton, where the people and places are "hellish" versions of their originals and where the Ghostbusters meet the devil (a modified version of this script was later used in Ghostbusters: The Video Game). At the time, Aykroyd stated that the studio was interested, though the principal actors were not. It featured a new, younger group of Ghostbusters, while Ray, Egon, and Winston (who is referred to as Dr. Zeddemore) struggle to keep the business going after Peter leaves to be with Dana. In reviewing the proposed script, IGN stated that the new Ghostbusters were "practically interchangeable," lacked personality conflicts, and were not "especially funny or charming." It also found the script to be too full of technobabble, and Venkman's appearance at the end is noted to be the "best gag" in the script.
Murray was reported in 2004 to be the only original Ghostbuster not interested in Ghostbusters III, as he disliked sequels. Multiple sources said Ramis wanted Ben Stiller to join the cast in 2005. During a 2009 interview, Ramis stated that the project had stalled due to a lack of interest and motivation. Both Ramis and Aykroyd subsequently confirmed that the script would call for a new group of younger Ghostbusters to take the lead, with Aykroyd stating, "There’ll be a whole new generation that has to be trained and a leader that you'll all love when you meet her. There'll be lots of cadets, boys and girls who'll be learning how to use the neuron splitter and the inter-planet interceptor—new tools to enable them to slip from dimension to dimension."
On January 13, 2010, Reitman confirmed that he would be directing the film. In March, Murray appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and talked about his potential return to Ghostbusters III, stating "I'd do it only if my character was killed off in the first reel." In an interview with Coming Soon the next month, Murray said: "You know, maybe I should just do it. Maybe it'd be fun to do." In May 2010, Aykroyd said a release was set for Christmas 2012. In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Aykroyd gave an update on the status of the Ghostbusters III script, written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, writer-producers of The Office: "I’m working on the script now and those two—Stupnitsky and Eisenberg, wrote Bill the comic role of a lifetime, and the new Ghostbusters and the old are all well represented in it...we have a strong first draft that Harold [Ramis] and I will take back, and I’m very excited about working on it." Shortly after that interview, at the Spike TV Scream Awards, Murray appeared on the show to accept an award for Zombieland. He arrived on stage in full Ghostbusters gear, giving no statements regarding the film except, "I'm sorry; I don't mean anything by this, it's just all that was left that was clean." On October 14, Stefano Paganini, one of Sony's product marketing managers, appeared at a Ghostbusters event in Rome and said "I spoke about this tonight with my boss from Los Angeles. She allowed me to let you know that the script of Ghostbusters III has been approved so the engine has been turned on!"
On August 25, 2011, Aykroyd told Dennis Miller on The Dennis Miller Show that Ghostbusters III was moving forward and planning to shoot in early 2012 with or without the involvement of Murray, saying, "What we have to remember is that 'Ghostbusters' is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributed to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold Ramis, myself and Sigourney Weaver. The concept is much larger than any individual role and the promise of Ghostbusters III is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood." He also revealed minor details for Ramis' Egon Spengler and his own Ray Stantz characters' current statuses. "My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can't drive the Cadillac," he says, "He's got a bad knee and can't carry the packs... Egon is too large to get into the harness. We need young blood and that's the promise. We're gonna hand it to a new generation.... I like this guy Matthew Gray Gubler from the Criminal Minds show," he adds, "But there's going to be a casting. We're going to see everyone that wants to do it. We're going to need... three guys and a young woman."
In December, 2011, it was reported that Murray had received the script, but according to the National Enquirer, he shredded it to pieces and returned it to Ramis and Aykroyd with a note reading: "No-one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts." Aykroyd said that it was untrue, but stated that Murray decided not to return, and that Aykroyd is looking for a replacement actor to play Murray's character. He also mentioned that he wanted Moranis to return as Louis Tully.
On February 29, 2012, Aykroyd said he was unsure if a third film would ever be made, and considered the film to be in "suspended animation". Aykroyd said if the film were made, Murray was confirmed not to return; they would need his permission if they wanted to re-cast his role or have him appear as a CGI ghost, which Aykroyd doubted they would get. He said Murray is busy with his six kids, owns many houses and is happy just appearing at golf tournaments where people pay him to turn up to provide a laugh. Aykroyd said the two remain close personal friends and Murray is a friend first, colleague second and that he can't be mad at him for refusing to make a third movie. Both Reitman and Ramis said there had to be a way to make the movie. Aykroyd said the script has to be perfect and that he doesn't want to exploit the franchise.
On April 5, 2012, while discussing the Cubs at the opening day game, Murray talked about his involvement in Ghostbusters III as a possibility. In a June interview with David Letterman, Murray said that making a very good sequel is hard and, "we'll try again. I'm always dragging my feet on it." On July 4, Aykroyd confirmed that Ghostbusters 3 was still in development. He also confirmed that there would be a new script written by a new team. On July 10, it was confirmed that Etan Cohen would be writing the script. Aykroyd said of the script that "It's got to be perfect. That's the whole thing. There's no point in doing it unless it's perfect. So that's what we're up to now."
In an interview on August 2, 2012, Aykroyd reported that Murray would have no involvement in the film, saying, "It's sad but we're passing it on to a new generation. Ghostbusters III can be a successful movie without Bill. My preference would be to have him involved but at this point he doesn't seem to be coming and we have to move on. It's time to make the third one."
In a September 2012 interview with Collider, Reitman stated that he believes there could be a Ghostbusters remake.
In May 2013 during an interview with Larry King, Aykroyd discussed the third film even giving away major plot details. "We’re going to have to cast. We need four new ghostbusters. We need four new Columbia students. It’s based upon new research that’s being done in particle physics by the young men and women at Columbia University. Basically there’s research being done that...I can say that the world or our dimension that we live in, our four planes of existence, length, height, width, and time, become threatened by some of the research that is being done. And Ghostbusters, new Ghostbusters have to come and solve the problem.” Aykroyd said. When asked about Murray's status with the film, Aykroyd responded "He’s a good friend, I love him, but he just doesn’t want to reprise the role. However, there will be a hole for him. If Billy wants to walk in the door and be in the movie, we will find a place."
In June 2013, Rick Moranis gave a rare interview where he talked about appearing in the third film and his disappointment with the sequel. Moranis said “I haven’t talked to Dan Aykroyd about it. Somebody he’s associated with called me and I said, ‘I wouldn’t not do it, but it’s got to be good.’ You know, I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve already done, and I thought the second one was a disappointment. But I guess I’m interested in where that guy is now. I sort of see him as being Bernie Madoff’s cellmate in jail. Both of them being so orderly that they race to get up and make their beds.”
In October 2013, Dan Aykroyd appeared on Australian talk show The Project and confirmed that the script for the third film is currently being rewritten. He stated that they would be bringing in a younger generation of Ghostbusters along with the original Ghostbusters (excluding Bill Murray) for the third film. Aykroyd went on to state that they would not be writing Murray's character out, nor would they be recasting the role. Aykroyd also stated that "the door is always open if Bill wanted to return to the role."
After the death of Harold Ramis on February 24, 2014, a source from Sony Pictures insisted that Ramis was involved in Ghostbusters III minimally for a cameo appearance. With the screenplay needing to be reworked, Ivan Reitman has been scheduled to meet with Sony executives to assess how to move forward on the project. On March 18, 2014, it was confirmed that Reitman would not be directing the third film, but would remain as producer. Sony is aiming to begin shooting in early 2015. On March 20, 2014, it was revealed directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in talks to direct the film, but on April 8, 2014, the duo has passed on the project. On May 30, 2014, The Wrap has reported that Ruben Fleischer is being considered to direct the third film. Weaver told Vanity Fair that Dana Barrett's son, Oscar, would have been a Ghostbuster in the film.
Ghostbusters Reboot (2015)
In August 2014, it was reported that Paul Feig was in talks to direct a reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, featuring women in the lead roles. The main cast members were announced as Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon in January 2015.
The film started shooting in mid-2015 in New York City, with a projected release date of July 22, 2016. Dan Aykroyd revealed in the Unmasked with Ron Bennington radio show, his potential return in the franchise. In March 2015, Deadline revealed that an all-male Ghostbusters film is in the works from Sony's new label Ghost Corps with Channing Tatum; Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan producing, Drew Pearce writing and Joe & Anthony Russo directing.