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The long, troubled history of Ghostbusters 3: A timeline
After years and years in development hell, will Ghostbusters 3 ever really happen?
 
A long-promised Ghostbusters 3 still doesn't exist, despite rumors that have persisted for years... and years... and years.
A long-promised Ghostbusters 3 still doesn't exist, despite rumors that have persisted for years... and years... and years. CC BY: Pedro Garcia

Strap on your Proton Packs, Ghostbusters fans: After years and years of troubled production, Ghostbusters 3 — a sequel that many concluded was deader than the ghosts busted in the first two films — may actually be happening.

Of course, this latest bit of Ghostbusters 3 optimism is hardly the whole story. Over the past two decades, the movie has gone through more ups and downs than almost any other franchise in Hollywood, and hopes of a third installment have been raised (and dashed) many, many times before. Here, a chronological guide to the long, troubled history of Ghosbusters 3:

June 1984
Ghostbusters is released to enormous acclaim and an impressive box-office gross.

June 1989
Ghostbusters II is released, to considerably less acclaim but an equally impressive box-office gross.

July 2002
IGN acquires a 1999 draft of a screenplay called Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent, written by Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd. The script is reportedly about the chaos that ensues when a hellish version of Manhattan — dubbed "Manhellton" — becomes so overcrowded that the devil starts evicting its residents into the world of the living. The script also introduces a series of new ghostbusters, including Franky, a "tough New Jersey punker," and Moira, a "pretty but uptight gymnast and science grad."

April 2004
Franchise star Ernie Hudson says that "Bill Murray isn't interested" in making a new Ghostbusters film because "he doesn't do sequels." (This was, incidentally, two years before Murray reprised the role of Garfield in A Tale of Two Kitties.) Hudson continues: "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! I doubt it'll happen."

November 2005
Harold Ramis (who plays ghostbuster Egon) tells In Focus magazine that Ben Stiller is his first choice to star as a new ghostbuster in the revised, Murray-less version of Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent, which is now tentatively titled Ghostbusters in Hell. A newly-rewritten script "transports the bumbling ghostbusters into a parallel dimension via a portal in a New York warehouse."

January 2007
Video game developer Zootfly begins early work on an unlicensed Ghostbusters video game sequel. Though Sony has the teaser videos taken down, the early footage is impressive enough that several studios eventually come together to collaborate on a Ghostbusters video game.

June 2009
Atari releases Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which features the voices of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson reprising their roles as the original four ghostbusters. In an interview with Now Gamer, Aykroyd says that the game, which is set two years after the events of Ghostbusters II, "is essentially the third movie" that he'd originally devised. Ghostbusters: The Video Game goes on to sell more than one million copies.

December 2009
The video game's success means that "something's going to happen" with Ghostbusters 3, Ramis assures Heeb Magazine. The old script has been thrown out in favor of a version by The Office writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg that will introduce new, younger ghostbusters, but will also feature "all the old guys." Ghostbusters 3 is slated to be filmed in the summer of 2010 and be released in 2011.

March 2010
Vulture reports that Columbia would like a younger director to take over the franchise, but that original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman's contract won't allow his replacement — and worse, that the contract also stipulates that Reitman, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis each have the power to "singlehandedly veto and kill the project" for any reason. More troubling news: In an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Murray says that making Ghostbusters 3 is his "nightmare," and dismisses the idea of a third film as "crazy talk."

August 2010
Murray tells GQ that recent, hopeful reports about him agreeing to star in a third Ghostbusters movie are "all a bunch of crock." He goes on to disparage screenwriters Stupnitsky and Eisenberg, saying that he'd been told by friends that Year One, the writing duo's previous film, was "one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives."

October 2010
Aykroyd defends Stupnitsky and Eisenberg's Ghostbusters 3 script, saying that the pair "wrote Bill the comic role of a lifetime."

November 2010
Ghostbusters 3 reverts to focusing on "the new generation of ghostbusters." Aykroyd floats Anna Faris and Bill Hader as two possible contenders for the roles.

August 2011
Aykroyd raises other casting possibilities, including Matthew Gray Gubler and "that guy in (500) Days of Summer" (presumably meaning Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

July 2012
Aykroyd announces that Stupnitsky and Eisenberg's script has been thrown out, but there's "a new writing staff working on [Ghostbusters 3] now," and that he won't make Ghostbusters 3 unless it's "perfect."

September 2012
In an interview with Collider, Reitman backs away from the idea of directing a Ghostbusters sequel, saying that the original Ghostbusters should be remade instead.

October 2012
Deadline reports that Reitman "is expected to finally get the long-gestating Ghostbusters reboot in front of cameras next summer for Sony Pictures." The "remake" idea is apparently off the table again.

May 2013
In an interview with Larry King, Dan Aykroyd reveals the overall story for Ghostbusters 3. "It's based on new research that's being done in particle physics by the young men and women at Columbia University," says Aykroyd. "The world or the dimension that we live in, our four planes of existence, length, height, width and time, become threatened by some of the research that's being done. Ghostbusters — new Ghostbusters — have to come and solve the problem." He confirms that Murray is not scheduled to appear but adds that if Murray "wants to walk in the door and be in the movie, [they] will find a place." ComingSoon.net reports that this version of Ghostbusters 3 would likely hit theaters in 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the original.

February 2014
Harold Ramis dies at age 69.

March 2014
Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two Ghostbusters movies, steps down from the director's chair for Ghostbusters 3. In an interview with Deadline, Reitman confirmed that Ramis' death has been a deciding factor: "With Harold no longer with us I couldn’t see it."

Nevertheless, Sony is pushing forward with Ghostbusters 3, with Reitman attached as a producer. The studio is currently seeking "a really good director" for a script that "has the originals in a very minor role." (It remains unclear how that will be accomplished without Ramis — or without Bill Murray, if he continues to shun the sequel.)

"I'm hoping we can get started by the fall, set in New York," says Reitman, "but given the logistics and the stuff that happens, the beginning of 2015 seems more likely."

The article was originally published on Oct. 18, 2012, and last updated on March 19, 2014.

Sources: Deadline (2), Rotten Tomatoes (2), Box-Office Mojo (2), IGN, Dark Horizons, Hollywood.com, Ars Technica, NowGamer, GameSpot, Heeb Magazine, Vulture, Slashfilm, GQ, Vanity Fair, Screen Rant (2), FirstShowing.Net, ComingSoon.Net (2), Collider

 
Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The AtlanticPOLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.

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