Every other month or so, Dan Aykroyd will be out pitching his delicious Crystal Head Vodka or a new film in which he's making an appearance. And inevitably, someone will always ask him about Ghostbusters. "Tell us a story about making those films," or "What's going on with the third movie? Is it going to happen?" It's understandable, you have Dan Aykroyd the self-proclaimed heart of the Ghostbusters and a man responsible for so many memories from many of our childhoods sitting next to you. How could you resist?
Interestingly, each and every single time that he gives an answer, it spreads like wildfire. From the innocuous answer, "Well we're working on a script, maybe it'll happen" to more pessimistic views that, "it just doesn't look like it's in the cards anymore," his answers make headlines across the internet no matter what he says.
But the underlying message always unspoken, is that the on-going development hell of this film has been a story all its own.
In 1997, around the time that Sony and Bohbot Entertainment were launching a new string of syndicated animated programming dubbed "The BKN," Ghostbusters III chatter reached a fever pitch. It seemed that a new film starring Chris Farley, Chris Rock and possibly Adam Sandler (or Ben Stiller, depending on which rumors were believed) was just around the corner. Unfortunately, Farley passed away in December of 1997 and the film was put into a bit of a holding pattern.
Talks continued into the later days of the 1990s that the film would still be happening, items were just being retooled and rethought to change the direction of the Farley-centric film. But eventually around 2001, Aykroyd resigned himself to proclaim the development of the project dead. In Cinescape (thanks to the always amazing and meticulous Paul Rudoff for this archive) Aykroyd said, "it was tremendously liberating for me to go to the set of Bedazzled and say to Harold, 'Harold, we're not going to do this. I'm letting it go. I'm not going to persevere anymore. When I come to you next time it will be a whole new project.' And I went to each one of them and I said that, 'I'm never going to call you about this movie again.' So now we talk about other things."
And so that became the story for several years, it was the project that would always be looked back upon as having failed to launch for one reason or another.
Or was it?
As pre-production on Ghostbusters: The Video Game began at Terminal Reality around 2006, Aykroyd's enthusiasm for the third film was reinvigorated. Chatter began once again that the film was a possibility. And that chatter turned into a deafening roar when Bill Murray finished his voice recording on the game and seemingly enjoyed the process once again, having told David Letterman that he found himself on the streets of New York humming the Ghostbusters theme song.
And so it began again, hints and teases - even new screenwriters in veterans of The Office, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg being hired to explore an all-new draft of the screenplay to usher in a new generation of Ghostbusters.
So confident at that point was Akyroyd that he hit the talk show circuit and started proclaiming that production would be starting that Fall... sound familiar? If so because that was 2009 and the same thing was said no more than a few months ago in the Spring of 2014.
In the past five years, so much has also happened - of course the unfortunate and still incredibly sad passing of Harold Ramis, a new writer coming in to refresh the script in Etan Cohen, directors apparently having been offered the job in Chris Miller and Phil Lord (which came after Ivan Reitman announced he had removed himself as the attached director of the project).
Just this week, while out on his press tour for the James Brown bio-pic "Get On Up", Aykroyd has been asked several times from several journalists what the status of the third Ghostbusters installment is looking like and now he's claiming that production may ramp up in the Spring. This is in contrast to an interview with Ivan Reitman shortly after Harold Ramis' unfortunate passing that the film would be starting production Fall of this year. Here's Aykroyd appearing with Carson Daly just this week:
Such is the tale of film development. It's about as easy to predict as the weather (which makes it so funny that studios are making announcements for film release dates in 2018 and beyond already). Since those first whispers of another Ghostbusters film in 1995 all the way to sitting here in July of 2014, there have been highs and lows of promise and of resignation.
For the past twenty years or so, I've followed that journey closely like a horse race seemingly with no end and with no victor. At moments, you're on your feet cheering and exhilarated and at other times you are burying your head in your hat unable to watch because the situation is so grim.
And predictably, once every month or two when a news article hits saying "Ghostbusters III to Start Production This (Insert Time Frame)," a friend will enthusiastically come up to me and say, "TROY! OMG! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS!?!?" I'll usually respond with a very tempered, "That's awesome! Wouldn't that be cool?" Even though I know that there's far more to it than the pleasant exchange that I just had with my friend.
And then I realize that I've essentially just said what Dan Aykroyd always politely says in all of these interviews since 1996, just with different verbiage...
Carson Daly: "Hey Dan, have you heard they're making a new Ghostbusters movie?"
Dan Aykroyd: "Wow! Wouldn't that be cool?"