How the Ghostbusters Franchise Fought for Survival
After decades of waiting, the Ghostbusters franchise fought for survival and found victory in an all-female reboot.
When the Ghostbusters trailer was released in May 2016, critics and fans alike did not seem to greet the idea of a reboot with much excitement. Many whined about the lack of solid jokes during the nearly three-minute segment, the all-female cast (although I don’t see any validity in that complaint), and the lack of returning stars. The original cast consisted of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. These actors collaborated on one of the greatest movies of all time, and they followed up with what most can agree to be a respectable sequel. So why did the Ghostbusters franchise have to fight for survival after the 80s? And why the big switch up in 2016?
Legacy of Ghostbusters
It’s June 1984. Bill Murray isn’t quite a household name, but he's a rising cinematic star. The original Ghostbusters releases to extraordinary acclaim and high box office gross. It seems that there is a new franchise in town, and Saturday Night Live has produced a great film with its alumni. Five years later, in June 1989, a sequel is released with the returning cast members. Although many critics and fans agree that the second film isn't quite up to snuff, it still establishes a profitable franchise. A long gap in news occurs after the release of the second film. In spite of fan excitement, there are no rumors of a Ghostbusters 3. In fact, many are wondering whether they will get a sequel at all.
They’d be waiting for a very long time indeed.
The silence was finally broken during July of 2002, when the internet site IGN managed to acquire a draft of a thirdmovie titled Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent. The draft was actually written by Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd. We know that there was at least strong consideration for a third film, but alas, there was no solid evidence that the screenplay would ever amount to production. The script was supposedly about the chaos that ensues when a hellish version of Manhattan becomes so overcrowded, that Satan himself starts evicting the residents into the world of the living, kicking the team into high gear. The Ghostbusters themselves were switched out for a new group, including Franky, a “tough New Jersey punker,” and Moira, a “pretty but uptight gymnast and science grad.” The film ultimately stayed in the early drafting stages.
Ghostbusters Enters Development Hell
In April 2004, Ghostbusters fans were hit with some very sad news indeed. Franchise star Ernie Hudson stated that “Bill Murray isn’t interested” in making a new Ghostbusters film because “he doesn’t do sequels.” He continued, “I’d love for it to go ahead, but it’d have to be soon, or we’ll all be too old to bust anything!”
Meanwhile, it’s pretty clear that a quick look through Bill Murray’s filmography shows that he has done sequels—and quite a few of them.
In January 2007, a new ray of hope emerged for Ghostbusters fans, but perhaps not in the way they were expecting. The video game developer Zootfly confirmed that they were beginning work on a new Ghostbusters game.
Ghostbusters Sequel Comes in Video Game Form
Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released in June 2009, and it features the original cast. The game released to fairly positive reviews, and fans believed this was the closest they'd get to a sequel. Indeed, Aykroyd actually says that the game, which is set two years after the events of the second Ghostbusters film, “is essentially the third movie” that he’d originally thought about. The game went on to sell more than one million copies.
The game’s success reignited interest in the franchise, and Ghostbusters 3 was reinserted into the public consciousness. However, Murray called the idea of a third film “crazy talk” in an interview in March 2010.
The film went on to gestate for many years, and it underwent several controversies—including Murray openly denouncing the writers of the script. The latest version of the script was tossed in July 2012. A new team began working on the third film. In fact, progress seemed to be going so well that they planned to have it in theaters by 2014 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the first film.
Harold Ramis Becomes a Ghost
In February 2014, Harold Ramis died at the age of 69. By March 2014, the original director of the first two films officially stepped down from the position, citing the death of Ramis as a deciding factor. “With Harold no longer with us, I couldn’t see it.” He stayed on as a producer, and Sony Pictures unsuccessfully reached out to Phil Lord and Chris Miller of The LEGO Movie to direct.
In August 2014, Variety reported that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig was in talks to direct the next film. Everything would be rewritten to star an all-female cast. The leads were announced in January 2015. The reboot Ghostbusters was released in July 2016.
Celebrate the Ghostbusters Franchise
After the original Ghostbusters and sequel, fans eagerly awaited the continuation of the franchise. They finally got their next installment in Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
Want some extra Ghostbusters action? Check out Ghostbusters: The Video Game, created by Dan Ackroyd himself. Based on the script he wrote for Ghostbusters 3, the game is an interactive sequel with the original cast. This is the closest thing die-hard fans will receive to a direct sequel, so get ready to hunt down some pesky specters!