Although a lot of questions remain about the status of Ghostbusters III and when it will eventually be produced, filmmaker Ivan Reitman says has made a crucial decision regarding his involvement when the camera starts rolling for the long-anticipated project.
In a phone interview over the weekend for his latest film, Draft Day, Reitman told me that the death in February of his longtime friend and collaborator Harold Ramis – who co-starred and co-wrote the first and second Ghostbusters – was a big factor in leading him to decide that he wasn't going to direct the third film.
"When I came home to Los Angeles from Harold's funeral last month in Chicago, I actually had a meeting with Sony a couple days later, where I told them that I wasn't going to direct Ghostbusters III," Reitman told me. "I had planned on directing it for the three or four years that I had worked on the script, and I could never think of anybody else directing it, because God forbid, it's my baby."
Reitman says directing Draft Day also played a part in his decision to produce, but not direct, Ghostbusters III.
"Somehow, the joy I got from working on Draft Day – working on something that's smaller and more dramatic, and realistically-based, (stepping aside from Ghostbusters III) seemed like the appropriate thing to do at this stage of my life, especially having made the two others," Reitman explains. "That and the combination with the passing of Harold, and knowing that he wasn't going to be there, it seemed like the appropriate time to turn the project over to some other fine director who would bring his own vision to do it. So, I'm going to produce the movie instead and go from there."
Reitman told me he wouldn't get into specifics about the Ghostbusters III at this point – including whether Bill Murray had finally softened his stance on returning for a third film, and if there was any truth to the rumors about Murray and Dan Aykroyd playing supporting roles as and passing the torch to a new generation of actors.
The filmmaker – who also worked with Ramis on such comedy classics as Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes – wouldn't go into any detail about Ramis' reported contributions to the Ghostbusters III script, but did say his influence will be felt in the film.
"I can't talk about what we're going to do, but longtime Ghostbusters fans are going to be very satisfied with the film and Harold's legacy will be honored," Reitman says.
While there's always a chance that the film will fall through, Reitman says the odds of Ghostbusters III finally materializing are about as good as they've ever been.
"Everybody wants it to happen and the studio is proceeding as if it's happening, so I would say, 'Yes,' it's going to happen," Reitman observes. "There are always unforeseen issues, but yes, I think it will happen."
Meanwhile, Reitman's Draft Day, which stars Kevin Costner as the Cleveland Browns' general manager under the gun to score a top pick for his team, opens April 11.
Tim Lammers is the author of the new ebook Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton, which includes a foreword by Burton.