The world lost a comedy legend when Harold Ramis passed away earlier this week. The writer, director and actor had a hand in many — if not most — of the ’80s comedies that people generally consider classics. This, of course, includes “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II,” in which he starred and co-wrote.
Before he died, Ramis was set to make a cameo appearance alongside Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in “Ghostbusters III,” Sony’s quasi-sequel/reboot that has been developing for years. On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter followed up with the studio to see how Ramis’ death would affect the movie, and the answer, unfortunately, was “not much.”
With Ramis gone, that leaves Aykroyd and Murray, who has previously gone back and forth on whether a sequel was a good idea at all. “They just don’t have a really good script. It’s hard,” Murray told David Letterman in 2012. “Even the second ’Ghostbusters’ wasn’t as much fun for me as the first one. It’s hard to make a sequel. That first one was really funny. It was just so darn funny, it’s hard for me.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence.
So who would “Ghostbusters III” be for? In light of Sony’s willingness to move forward without Egon, it makes me wonder why — aside from obvious financial reasons — anyone would be interested in seeing another movie in the series.
To get a better idea of what’s going on here, let’s break down the hypothetical audience for any potential sequel. There are the people who want to reunite with the characters they know and like from the previous movies. Harold Ramis is no longer with us. Trying to capture Bill Murray’s interest is nearly impossible these days. And Dan Aykroyd is the only one who is actually excited about this idea.
In a best case scenario, you’re looking at cameos from two of the principal castmembers before they’re pushed aside for the new generation. Considering all of that, there isn’t actually that much nostalgia factor to “Ghostbusters III” at all.
Then there is the audience who, in theory, would be introduced to this fictional world for the first time in the reboot and then would want to discover the originals. This is a justification that gets thrown around a lot whenever a studio wants to rehash a classic, but it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. If you really wanted to expose an audience to the world of “Ghostbusters,” just rerelease “Ghostbusters.” It’s not like the original is so dated that millennials couldn’t possibly grasp its humor.
Sure, it would have been something to see Drs. Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler all together again, but that’s never going to happen now. And without that nostalgia, what’s the point? If you’re not selling the movie on the characters, you’re selling it on the concept of catching ghosts, which was never really the point in the first place.