It’s scientifically impossible to hate Ghostbusters, and if you do, chances are that you’re either a pissed off marshmallow man or some dude trapped in an old painting. Dan Akroyd has been looking to get a third film made for years now, working for free on new scripts and ideas, but every time he takes two steps forward, Sony jumps, crosses some streams and blows it all apart.
Well enough is enough for Akroyd, as he issued a public challenge to Sony earlier this week.
Speaking to Esquire, Akroyd said that Sony needs to make a decision or just leave the franchise alone. As mentioned before, Akroyd has been working pro bono on a third film, alongside the Office writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, as well as Etan Cohen before he left the project. Which has left the film in the following situation:
I’ve worked on every draft in the last three years, as Ivan has, and now we have a story and a draft that everybody seems to agree would make the third movie. At this point, I think we’re closer than we ever have been.
And because of the ever-shifting sands and nature of the motion-picture business, I will just say that hopefully, at some point, it will be morphing into what is known in the business as a [Aykroyd mimes air quotes] “production number XP39789.” Then I will begin to rent cars, get hotel rooms, and bill for writing.
But that point hasn’t come. All my work has been gratis to this point, as Ivan’s has, and I’m hoping that I can get that production number set up in L.A. and help everyone bring the movie to fruition, as the originator and creator of the concept.
If it does not happen, the life of Dan Aykroyd and his family and friends will be quite full without Ghostbusters 3.
So would Akroyd consider using the draft that Stupnitsky and Eisenberg turned in then?
You know, they did great work. There will be arbitration on it. And I hope that the arbitration may yield some kind of credit for them, but I don’t know what the final, final draft is gonna be. That’s to be determined.
One thing that a third Ghostbusters will not have though, is Bill Murray returning as Dr Peter Venkman, as due to personal and legal reasons, the actor can’t set foot on the lot for that potential film even:
Well, I have one-fifth of the voice, along with the partners and the other owner of the property, the picture company, and Ivan, Billy [Murray], and myself, and Harold [Ramis].
We all have to sign off on it unanimously — uh, I’m not sure Billy does anymore, since he abrogated his rights by sort of, by saying, two years ago he said, “I don’t want to be involved,” and the picture company I think had some clause in there that if he actually passed on the third of fourth offer, he no longer has a view of the franchise.
So, that’s for the lawyers to decide. Of course, I’d love to have Billy call me tomorrow and say, “Let’s go to work and start writing.”
Of course, there is one way that Bill Murray would return, but it would involve him having kicked the bucket:
I originally had him as a ghost in the Stupnitsky/Eisenberg draft. Because he said, “If I do this, I want to be dead, and I want to be a ghost.” So I said, well, we’ll build you in there. And had he said yes two years ago to the ghost concept, I’m telling you, we’d be making the movie this summer, and it would be massive.
Well, let me say this: Had Billy chosen to do the Eisenberg/Stupnitsky script of two years ago, it would be out this summer, and it would be a massive hit. If Billy had said yes, it would have satisfied his performance and what he wanted in the movie, it would have satisfied his performing skill and how he wanted to be depicted in the movie, it would have satisfied the studio, the writers who wrote it, everybody — Ivan, me, Harold, we were all happy with it.
Then when he said, “Absolutely not, I’m not in this,” we had to go and really rethink things. He abrogated his say in the project, abrogated his rights to have any say in it by refusing the third offer from the picture company, which his lawyer put before him, and Billy said, “No, I can’t respond.” Now we have to move on, but we’ll always leave a hole for him.
He’s always there. He can always come back at any time and be rebuilt into it, as far as I’m concerned. That’s up to his lawyer and the picture company to work out, but creatively, he will always be a part of it.
Now, this would add quite a bump to Sony’s bottom line, quite a bump. If they make this movie, in its current shape, they would be looking at a pretty hefty, nine-figure return.
And so I’m hoping they get on to move it, but if they don’t, I have multiple trains. I’ve got tracks six, seven, and nine, and that’s four. I’ll be moving on to other things, as will Ivan, by the way. We can’t wait forever. And now’s the time to tell the picture company, and
I’d say this quite publically, it’s time now to sit down and make this movie, or you will lose your main principals, and you won’t be able to make it without us, because we have rights, and now is time to make the movie… You don’t take advantage of that in the next three or four months, I’ll see you in Australia, where we’ll be selling Crystal Head [Vodka].
At which point Akroyd mentioned making more than just one more Ghostbusters sequel. The idea right now for the third film, is for the current crew to hand over the proton packs to a younger generation who will carry on their work. Presumably while Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore and Ray Stantz get tortured in hell:
Man-hell-ttan, and the Ghostbusters in hell, would be so solid, but we gotta get maybe one or two made before that. But, oh, wow… I wrote that with Tom Davis, my writing partner, recently deceased, who wrote Coneheads with me and stuff on Saturday Night Live.
There’s classic Tom Davis lines and funny stuff in there, really it’s probably the most humorous of all the Ghostbusters scripts that have generated in that last little while. But we’ll put the humor into this next one. It’s gotta be funny, or it’s not worth doing. It can be scary, it can be Ghostbusters, it can be the new franchise, the new people, but if it’s not funny … Wait a minute, it started as a comedy.
Let’s make sure there’s laughs and no laugh unturned and that we really make that our priority, to make it funny and exciting, but mainly funny.
I’m pretty certain that the world is ready for a new Ghostbusters film. While the technology on hand means that Akroyd could finally see the massive paranormal battles that he envisioned for the original film made real, attitudes and perceptions towards the supernatural have also changed, as TV shows dealing with such phenomena are plentiful these days.
I’d love to see the original crew back, but I’d also love to see a new take on a great franchise. Make it so Sony.