No matter what Bill Murray says, there will be a Ghostbusters 3 if Dan Aykroyd has is way.
The actor and Crystal Skull Vodka creator recently talked to Esquire about the status of the film and revealed some interesting details about the long-gestating project that's also involved original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman as well as writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (The Office) and Men in Black 3 writer Etan Cohen.
"I've worked on every draft in the last three years, as Ivan has, and now we have a story and a draft that everybody seems to agree would make the third movie," Aykroyd said. "At this point, I think we're closer than we ever have been. And because of the ever-shifting sands and nature of the motion-picture business, I will just say that hopefully, at some point, it will be morphing into what is known in the business as a [Aykroyd mimes air quotes] "production number XP39789." Then I will begin to rent cars, get hotel rooms, and bill for writing. But that point hasn't come. All my work has been gratis to this point, as Ivan's has, and I'm hoping that I can get that production number set up in L.A. and help everyone bring the movie to fruition, as the originator and creator of the concept. If it does not happen, the life of Dan Aykroyd and his family and friends will be quite full without Ghostbusters 3."
Aykroyd went on to say that he, Stupinksy, Eisenberg, Cohen and Reitman have all been working on scripts, writing drafts and passing them off. Who exactly will get credit for what will remain to be seen until the film has a final draft for shooting. Before that, several parties will have to sign off on the story, though Murray might not be one of them.
"Well, I have one-fifth of the voice, along with the partners and the other owner of the property, the picture company, and Ivan, Billy [Murray], and myself, and Harold [Ramis]," Aykroyd said. "We all have to sign off on it unanimously — uh, I'm not sure Billy does anymore, since he abrogated his rights by sort of, by saying, two years ago he said, 'I don't want to be involved,' and the picture company I think had some clause in there that if he actually passed on the third of fourth offer, he no longer has a view of the franchise. So, that's for the lawyers to decide. Of course, I'd love to have Billy call me tomorrow and say, 'Let's go to work and start writing.'"
He said if Murray had accepted the proposed script from two years ago, which would have followed Murray's wishes and made his Dr. Peter Vankman character a ghost, the movie would probably be hitting theaters next summer.
"If Billy had said yes, it would have satisfied his performance and what he wanted in the movie, it would have satisfied his performing skill and how he wanted to be depicted in the movie, it would have satisfied the studio, the writers who wrote it, everybody — Ivan, me, Harold, we were all happy with it," Aykroyd said. "Then when he said, 'Absolutely not, I'm not in this,' we had to go and really rethink things. He abrogated his say in the project, abrogated his rights to have any say in it by refusing the third offer from the picture company, which his lawyer put before him, and Billy said, 'No, I can't respond.' Now we have to move on, but we'll always leave a hole for him. He's always there. He can always come back at any time and be rebuilt into it, as far as I'm concerned. That's up to his lawyer and the picture company to work out, but creatively, he will always be a part of it."
Aykroyd confirmed that the idea is still to have Ghostbusters 3 feature the next generation of supernatural exterminators and that, if it does get made and performs as well as he thinks it will, there might still be hope for the long talked-about Ghostbusters in Hell, which the actor has also dubbed Man-Hell-Tan.
"Man-hell-ttan, and the Ghostbusters in hell, would be so solid, but we gotta get maybe one or two made before that," Aykroyd said. "But, oh, wow ... I wrote that with Tom Davis, my writing partner, recently deceased, who wrote Coneheads with me and stuff on Saturday Night Live. There's classic Tom Davis lines and funny stuff in there, really it's probably the most humorous of all the Ghostbusters scripts that have generated in that last little while. But we'll put the humor into this next one. It's gotta be funny, or it's not worth doing. It can be scary, it can be Ghostbusters, it can be the new franchise, the new people, but if it's not funny … Wait a minute, it started as a comedy. Let's make sure there's laughs and no laugh unturned and that we really make that our priority, to make it funny and exciting, but mainly funny."