The on-again-off-again relationship between the universe and the Ghostbusters franchise is currently set to “on.” That is, at least for Dan Aykroyd. For years, we’ve been desperately wondering “who ya gonna call?” and now, Aykroyd is officially ready to ghost hunt, scripting the third film in the Ghostbusters series, and aiming to start filming in early 2012. One of the main delays in getting this project off the ground was bringing Bill Murray back into the Proton Pack-wielding jumpsuit. Aykroyd has found an interesting workaround to this issue: starting the project with or without him.
Clearly, much of the success attributed to the original 1984 film had been the casting of Bill Murray as Peter Venkman. His unique persona as the team’s comedic, yet not-very-scientific lead helped solidify the movie’s prominence, sending it to the box office top for the first seven week’s of release. By comparison, this difficult feat ties Ghostbusters with the Avatar juggernaut, and bested only by 9 films in cinematic history. Ghost-fact, the film later reclaimed the top spot after a week in second… and then regained it again in the film’s 14th week, a unique accomplishment that has never been matched.
However, Murray’s career has taken a much different path than what would likely have been originally anticipated of the SNL star, veering away from blockbuster comedies and more toward independent titles. This has kept the possibility of Ghostbusters 3 in limbo, no pun intended, for years. Despite the increasing phenomenon of reinventing and/or revisiting franchises in the past decade, Ghostbusters has never been able to trap this spirit.
But then, there was a game.
The appropriately titled “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” hit consoles in 2009, courtesy of Terminal Reality, Red Fly Studios, Zen Studios, and Atari. Not only did the storyline take gamers through much of the original film, but it boasted the voice cast of each original Ghostbuster; Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz, Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler, Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore, Annie Potts as the team’s secretary Janine Melnitz, and long-time holdout Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman. This collaboration re-ignited the push for a third film in the series, and got fans all hot and bothered once more.
Not a full year later, the intrawebs was again set on fire as Bill Murray made a special guest appearance at the 2010 Spike TV Scream Awards. Though the focus of the show was placed on the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future, complete with reuniting Michael J. Fox and Christopher LLoyd, fans were completely caught off guard when Bill Murray appeared rose to the stage, secretly unveiling the ultimate surprise: his being covered head to toe in the iconic Ghostbusters suit.
Murray was there to accept his own award, as well as on behalf of the film Zombieland, in which he even parodied his own portrayal of Peter Venkman. …and note the amazingly brief, yet amazingly awesome, pairing of Dana Barrett’s Sigourney Weaver with Murray at the end of the clip.
Now, here we sit, nearly a full year after the Scream Awards saw Bill Murray as Peter Venkmen, and we’re forced to consider the thought that it could actually have been for the last time; whether or not there is a Ghostbusters 3 (or Ghostbusters 4).
Aykroyd hasn’t given up hope, giving fellow Saturday Night Live alum Dennis Miller an inside scoop on Miller’s radio show; “Yes, we will be doing the movie and hopefully with Mr. Murray. That is our hope. We have an excellent script.” Aykroyd goes on to add; “Billy was absolutely the lead and contributed to it in a massive way [but] the concept is much larger than any individual role. [In the new movie] we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood.”
So, really, who are you gonna call? And will Bill Murray answer? Or does he patch the connection through to some of this “new blood”, for whom Ashton Kutcher has been name-dropped?
We’ll just have to hold on and find out…