Because Arrested Development hasn’t satiated your need for film projects in constant turnaround, here comes Ghostbusters 3. After spending the better part of the nineties as the geek version of a carrot on a stick—forever taunting and out of arm’s reach—the franchise was reborn with a purpose in the wake of the Judd Apatow Revolution (see the studio dictate: comedies are so hot right now!). Yet that rebirth may be more short-lived than Ray Parker’s singing career.
According to a Vulture exclusive, Columbia Pictures’ hopeful summer 2011 release date is in serious peril because of a decades-old agreement with director Ivan Reitman. It seems that Reitman—the 80s titan behind the Ghostbusters franchise, Stripes and Twins—and the three main cast members (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Akyroyd; somewhere Ernie Hudson weeps) have clauses in their contracts stipulating they have final say over all things Ghostbusters. That means if one of them isn’t happy, the project dies.
Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if Columbia didn’t want to replace Reitman with someone younger and more aware of today’s audience tendencies. (For reference, Reitman’s last film was the disastrous My Super Ex-Girlfriend and he arguably hasn’t made a good movie since Dave back in 1993; to say the man is past his prime would be an insult to past primes.)
This is just the latest in a long line of problems to befall Ghostbusters 3. In fact, just as recently as two weeks ago, Murray went on Late Night with David Letterman and basically buried the project, calling it “crazy talk” (it should go without saying that there are rumors abound that Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman—spoiler alert!—dies in the first act). There is still a shred of hope for Columbia that Reitman might leave under his own power—Paramount just moved forward on Friends with Benefits, a comedy about friends with benefits that Reitman is set to direct—but apparently the 63-year-old plans on doing both films.
Even if Columbia is able to get out from under Reitman’s albatross contract—and even if they are able to keep the cantankerous Murray from shutting things down as well—there is still the matter of who will actually direct Ghostbusters 3 in his stead. Not surprisingly, Judd Apatow has long been discussed as a possible helmer, but he seems too smart to take a no-win proposition like this. That’s why we think Joss Whedon would be perfect. He’s no stranger to adverse odds (hello, everything he’s done since Buffy!) and he would bring the right tone and balance to a Ghostbusters film in ways that straight up comedy directors might not. Frankly, as long as they don’t go with Ramis himself—who will never be forgiven for Year One—it should be an upgrade.
Ghostbusters 3 is due to hit theaters in the summer of 2011. Don’t hold your breath.