Pre-production discussion surrounding the highly-anticipated Ghostbusters 3 has presented an emotional roller coaster ride for diehard supporters of the series – especially with regard to Bill Murray’s role in the sequel. When it comes to fan-favorite character, Peter Venkman, there’s plenty of on-again off-again news – with many of the project’s key filmmakers blaming Murray for regularly stalling the movie. Murray, to his credit, has been respectful about the finger pointing, at least in the public eye, asserting that he’s open to supporting the film (and/or reprising his role) if he was presented with the right script.

However, for now at least, it sounds as though one-time Ghostbuster, Dan Aykroyd (who has been instrumental in moving the third film forward), is finally prepared to forge on without Murray.

It’s not the first time that Aykroyd has discussed moving forward without his ghostbusting partner but this time the actor/producer is offering a time window for Ghostbusters 3 production.

Speaking to Metro (in the UK) Aykroyd was extremely candid – flat out cutting Murray out of the equation before reflecting on the difficulty of the situation and teasing the future. Responding to the question, “Is Bill Murray doing [Ghostbusters 3]?” Aykroyd had this to say:

“No, I can tell you he won’t be involved.”

“It’s sad but we’re passing it on to a new generation. Ghostbusters 3 can be a successful movie without Bill. My preference would be to have him involved but at this point he doesn’t seem to be coming and we have to move on. It’s time to make the third one.”

As mentioned, Aykroyd also confirmed that the producers and studio are confident in the latest script idea (penned by Tropic Thunder‘s Etan Cohen) – and that, as a result, the film could begin production in 2013:

“We’ve got a brilliant new writer on it and we’ll be passing the torch on to a new generation. We’re working on it to make it just right to satisfy our fans. I’m confident we’ll be in production in the next year.”

The balance between “passing the torch” and “satisfying” prior fans is, no doubt, a tricky line to walk – and one of the many reasons that prior Ghostbusters 3 script drafts have failed to connect with studio executives, fans, and/or cast members.

At one point, it was speculated that Murray would be the “bridge” from the old guard to the knew – by dying and turning into a ghost himself. However, as that is no longer likely to be the case (or anything more than a brief cameo), wherever the Ghostbusters 3 plot goes – it’ll start with some aging, yet familiar, faces (Aykroyd for one) recruiting a lively new batch of Ghostbusters. Therefore, expect the filmmakers to focus on corralling a new team of up-and-coming Ghostbusters – a group that the studio could use for an entirely new set of films (and toys).

For now, the Ghostbusters faithful had better imagine a sequel without the team’s leading man but, as Murray has previously indicated (in spite of Aykroyd’s comments), “You just have to have a really good script, you know, it’s hard. I think, you know, we’ll try again.

To Murray’s point, if the Cohen script falls flat somewhere along the road to 2013, there’s always that infamous J. Michael Straczynski idea.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Ghostbusters 3 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: Metro [via ComingSoon]