Last year’s Sony email hack revealed a treasure trove of Hollywood intel, including Ivan Reitman’s proposal for a Ghostbusters 3 that would reunite the original Ghostbusters as well as pave the way for the next generation. In a 2013 email to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, Reitman laid out the plot for what he called Ghostbusters: Alive Again. However, with Harold Ramis’ passing in 2014, this version was scrapped.
While it sounds like the strongest idea for a third installment, it’s definitely not the first. Ghostbusters 3 has stopped and started so many times since the 1990s, with at least five different versions rumored over the past 20 years. Read on for Dan Aykroyd’s multiple drafts, Reitman’s pitch, and what Ghostbusters 3 director Paul Feig is actually planning to do.
Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent
In the 1990s, Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd wrote a script for Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent, which would have seen the team transported to an alternate version of Manhattan called—wait for it—Manhellttan. Here’s what else we know:
- The Ghostbusters have become an actual corporation with a whole fleet of Ecto cars.
- Winston is now Dr. Zeddemore.
- Aykroyd described hell as not some distant dimension, but “right next door.” Essentially a flipped version of Manhattan.
- In Manhellton, everyone is basically their evil twin.
- Not surprisingly, the movie’s big bad would have been the devil himself—except he’s also a Donald Trump-like character named Luke Silfer.
- Aykroyd co-wrote the script with his The Coneheads writing partner Tom Davis, and it was one of the funnier takes on a Ghostbusters sequel out there.
Aykroyd later said in a 2012 interview that Manhellttan was not his idea for Ghostbusters 3, but rather for a fourth or fifth film once the franchise was back up and running.
Ghostbusters 3: New Blood
In 2011, Aykroyd was talking about a very different Ghostbusters 3 script, one that at the time seemed a bit more realistic:
- When asked about Bill Murray’s refusal to appear in the movie, Aykroyd stressed that the point of the movie is to figuratively and literally pass down the responsibilities of busting ghosts to new blood.
- Part of that reason, he explained, would be that the original Ghostbusters simply can’t hack it anymore:
My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can’t drive the Cadillac. He’s got a bad knee and can’t carry the packs. …Egon is too large to get into the harness. We need young blood and that’s the promise. We’re gonna hand it to a new generation.
- For casting, they would need “three guys and a young woman.” One of his suggestions was Criminal Minds star Matthew Gray Gubler.
Ghostbusters 3: The Best and the Brightest
Fast-forward to 2013, when Aykroyd told Larry King about a Ghostbusters 3 that would definitely hinge on the next generation, since they’re the only ones who can solve the movie’s big problem:
- The pressing issue here would be particle physics and how they affect our four dimensions:
It’s based on new research that’s being done in particle physics by the young men and women at Columbia University. …Basically, there’s research being done that I can say that 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.
- The new Ghostbusters would start out as Columbia students, with a lot of the action taking place in the university’s neighborhood of Morningside Heights. (Two of the original Ghostbusters themselves started out as Columbia adjuncts.)
- That said, the movie would still bring back original characters, including Larry King, who cameoed in the first film.
- If Murray—who was still reluctant at the time—wanted to join the film, “there will be a hole for him.”
Ghostbusters 3: Electric Gozer-loo
In 2014, Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, after being bugged by Twitter followers about how he would do Ghostbusters 3, proceeded to tweet out his own pitch. To be clear, he wasn’t commissioned to write a script; this was simply his (pretty great) idea:
- The movie starts off with Ivo Shandor, Gozer cult leader, murdering Slimer. Yes, Slimer.
- Again, the Ghostbusters have become a global franchise, but in Landis’ version they’ve branched off into various teams.
- The main Ghostbusters business is a parody of itself (catching only 12 ghosts a year, ouch) and is slowly going bankrupt.
- Hoping to ramp up business, one of the teams—who have been shut down, so that should tell you something—try to resurrect a minor ghost. Instead, they bring back Gozer.
- Landis had distinct ideas for the different teams’ dynamics, describing them as “a modern-comedy clique; a Parks/Rec team, a Rogen/Franco team, a Kroll/Key/Peele team.”
Ghostbusters: Alive Again
Ivan Reitman also envisioned a passing-the-baton film, but by the time of his 2013 email, he had actual characters in mind:
- The new Ghostbusters would feature Venkman’s son Chris—yes, Chris, not Dana Barrett’s son Oscar from Ghostbusters II. (Sigourney Weaver has said that her only condition for Ghostbusters 3 would be that her son gets to be a Ghostbuster.) We guess Oscar turned out to be too much of a smelly. He’s not attractive.
- Possible actors being considered for Chris at the time include Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Charlie Day (Pacific Rim), and Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
- It seems that Chris would join the Ghostbusters team, led by Jeremy; the only potential actor mentioned at the time was Jonah Hill.
- Comic relief would come from a character named Dean, with Reitman eyeing Zach Galifianakis.
- The villain would be Gniewko, with Reitman and Pascal pulling for Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell, respectively.
- The two female characters mentioned were Ashley (Reitman had Rebel Wilson in mind) and Joni (Aubrey Plaza), though we know nothing about them. Similarly, there was a role called Jon, to be played by Aziz Ansari.
Ghostbusters 3: The Actual Movie
Finally, we come to Paul Feig’s vision for the all-female Ghostbusters 3 that has been confirmed. The plot details in that link come from one of the leaked Sony emails, and several have since been rendered moot by subsequent reports. Here’s what we know for sure:
- Feig cast Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon as the four lady Ghostbusters. Also, McKinnon in costume looks like everything we ever dreamed of.
- Emma Stone ultimately passed on joining up because of the commitment of joining a franchise.
- Here’s an unofficial synopsis! (We’re still waiting on the official one from the studio, but the Boston Herald got this intel.)
Wiig and McCarthy play a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. Flash forward a few years and Wiig lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia U. (Like the original, the story takes place in New York City, even though it’s being shot in Boston.) Which is pretty sweet, until her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia.
Wiig reunites with McCarthy and the other two proton pack-packing phantom wranglers, and she gets some sweet revenge when ghosts invade Manhattan and she and her team have to save the world.
- Feig has also shared photos of the new uniforms and proton packs.
- In the best news yet, Chris Hemsworth is playing the Ghostbusters’ receptionist.
With the news of Feig’s all-female movie came rumors that Sony was forming its own production company, Ghostcorps, to create an all-male “counterpart” film. But now it sounds like the project isn’t actually happening:
- According to Deadline, Ghostcorps intended to bring together directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), writer Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3), and producers Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, and Peter Kiernan.
- Which would make sense for Tatum to star in the movie.
- Reitman also shared his plans to expand the Ghostbusters universe through television, film, merchandise, and other branding opportunities.
- However, judging from Carolin’s recent interview with ScreenRant, the movie may be dead:
We’re not doing that anymore…. No I don’t think so, I think it’s too complicated. There’s a lot of things going on with that brand and I just feel like it’s over-saturated.
So, there you have it. The long path that led us to an all-female Ghostbusters, set to be released July 22, 2016.
This post originally appeared on Tor.com on December 19, 2014.