Will "Ghostbusters III" Ever See the Light of Day?

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
May 10th, 2012

Will "Ghostbusters III" Ever See the Light of Day?

--There is a good probability that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis didn't realize what a pop culture juggernaut they were starting when they set out to write the script for "Ghostbusters." It was the early 1980s and there were plenty of science fiction movies out in theaters, including the third installment of the Star Wars franchise, "The Empire Strikes Back."

The one thing missing from all the sci-fi movies was comedy. While there was some comic relief in some of the sci-fi movies of the day, it wasn't always intentional. Aykroyd and Ramis had every intention of making "Ghostbusters" a comedy first and foremost, and they succeeded. In fact, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked it number 28 on their all-time best comedies list. IGN voted it the best comedy ever in 2005, more than 20 years after it was released in 1984.

The first "Ghostbusters" centered on three friends, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Stantz (Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis), who believe in ghosts. They believe in them so much that they decide to start a business catching them for other people. Nobody wants to help them start what seems like a foolish business, so they have to settle for renting a decrepit old fire station and a broken-down hearse. Although business is slow at first, they eventually get more business until they are completely overworked.

Unfortunately, the contraption that they are using to store the ghosts is potentially hazardous to the environment. The EPA steps in and shuts them down, releasing hundreds of ghosts into the atmosphere at once. This sets off a serious of catastrophic events that only the imprisoned Ghostbusters can handle.

The movie spawned a hit soundtrack, a cartoon of the same name and a renewed interest in the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. It was an instant pop culture sensation and the most financially successful film of 1984. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that there had to be a sequel.

It took five long years, but finally "Ghostbusters II" went into production. It was released in 1989 to much anticipation and fanfare, but heavily critical reviews. In fact, critics maligned the film, which they felt didn't capture the charming spirit of the original. Despite the bad reviews, the fans still showed up and the film did reasonably well at the box office.

In it, the Ghostbusters have broken up and gone on to obscure jobs due to pending lawsuits against them. Even though they saved the city of New York and the world as well, some litigious New Yorkers sued them for property damage. They are barred from practicing ghostbusting until suddenly Manhattan is once again in supernatural danger from a tide of pink goo that threatens to destroy it.

After the bad critical reception, some of the stars of the film vowed that they would not make anymore films in the franchise. This is especially true of Bill Murray, who played arguably the most popular character in the series. His intention to not do anymore films is the main reason why a third film has not been made yet.

In the mid 1990s, Aykroyd decided that he wanted to make third film despite the mixed reception for the second. He wrote a draft of a script where the plot involved the Ghostbusters being sent to a parallel reality. The alternate world is a version of Manhattan where everyone is evil. Though the studio had interest, the actors did not, so this draft got relegated to a video game.

Murray has been asked in interviews why he didn't want to do a third film. He took a hard stance at first but over the years began to warm to the idea, thinking it might be fun to do it after all. In 2010, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, cowriters of TV hit "The Office" began drafting a script and Dan Aykroyd announced that the film was a go.

There had been rumors in early 2012 that a vehicle that looked suspiciously like the famous one from the films was spotted on a movie set. Nothing has been confirmed and Murray still won't give a definitive answer on whether or not he will return. Also up in the air is whether actor Rick Moranis will come out of retirement to play Louis Tully one more time.

Despite so many things being up the air, fans of the franchise still wait with bated breath for more information. They have waited through a decade of rumors and several scrapped release dates, so waiting a little longer for Murray to make up his mind probably won't hurt too badly.