The daily grind of movie news, rumor, and rant can be a trying one, as much for the writer as for the reader. I've been at drinks or dinner with friends or family and heard them bitterly complain about how they wish "no one bothered to report on it until they really knew," while simultaneously confessing they can't stop themselves from devouring it. The majority of casting rumors are short and furious burns -- Five new blonde men are in talks for Captain America! Will Tom Cruise be booted from Mission: Impossible 4/Yes/No/Yes Again/No, come on, that's crazy -- but some drag on and on for years. One of these is Ghostbusters 3, and it is the rare example (undoubtedly because it hit in the midst of such a geek news glut) of news that has left readers screaming, and a number of web editors making dramatic stands not to print any more statements from Dan Aykroyd. I believe only Kevin Smith has raised similar online ire. The cry has been clear: No more news until it's real!
Well, will it ever be? Sadly, yes. We will eventually get a Ghostbusters 3. It is preordained, decided by studio forces, aged actors, and the unending grip of nostalgia. Yes, it may be stalled for the moment, but that means absolutely nothing. It could start up tomorrow. It could drag out for another five or 10 years until it is even more creaky and overdue, but it will happen. It's already in motion simply by having been spoken about. There's nothing short of an abrupt loss of the entire original cast that could derail it -- and even then, they would trot it out and call it a remake or reboot. (See: Lethal Weapon. Once five was an impossibility, they set about a remake.)
How do I know this? Well, let me take you back to the 1990s. We were speeding into a new decade, a beloved franchise just behind us, still glimpsed in the rearview mirror. That franchise was Indiana Jones. For two decades, rumors swirled there would be a fourth Indiana Jones film. Many of these rumors hinged on George Lucas' vague plans, and one quote from a 1997 Barbara Walters interview with Harrison Ford, where he said he'd play Indy again "in a New York minute." I remember that quote was recycled in every sci-fi magazine and website for years and years, and friends would smugly call, email, or instant message me whenever it surfaced. "See? I told you there would be another Indy film!" "I remember when he said that! It doesn't mean there's a new film." "Yes, it does. It's new. I saw it on Dark Horizons!"
On it went for two decades. I remember people earnestly telling me Indy 4 would be about Atlantis or Noah's Ark, and they had heard about it on the radio or seen it in a newspaper. They had seen Ford, Lucas, or Steven Spielberg talking about it last night on Jay Leno or David Letterman. It would be out by that summer. These were the dark days before Google and YouTube, and even if you didn't believe them, there was no way to disprove it. (Similar stories spun around the Star Wars prequels or sequels, which were always on the verge of production.) I would always get angry at the impassioned assertions with their release dates and imaginary cast members. I would point out that Indy rode off into the sunset, and that the third film was titled The Last Crusade signaling that it was the end of an era. Once we got into the 2000s, I argued that it had been too long and that Ford was too old, and oh yeah did you see Attack of the Clones? What the hell was that? Do you really want Lucas to write another Indy? Shut up already.
Well, one day it happened. Just like that, Indy 4 was shooting, and nothing could dissuade anyone that it wasn't welcome, or wouldn't be awesome after brewing for two decades. Actually, people tell me it happened. I'm still convinced what I saw and heard were simply hallucinations brought on by a bit of undigested beef, a blot of mustard, or a crumb of cheese.
But that's beside the point. What I'm trying to say is that we suffered through rumors and rehashed quotes for 20 years, so two years (if that) of Ghostbusters 3 talk is nothing. The common belief is that if it's not happening now, it won't ever, but that's simply not true. It's never, ever too late. It wasn't too late for Star Wars, it wasn't for Indiana Jones, it wasn't for Tron, and it won't be for Ghostbusters. Nor can you tell me that the fans will reject it. Ghostbusters now rival Jedi and superheroes as a cosplay of choice, and it's a popular theme for video games, collectibles, t-shirts, and posters. It's a thriving, fannish, almost cultish new market. They are begging for a third film. Many of them need a third film to redeem their problems with Ghostbusters II, and fix their faith in the series. Even if they claim they won't see it -- "It's a cash-in." "They're too old." "I don't want new Ghostbusters!" "The second one was dumb, the third one will be too!" -- they will if only on the pretense of tearing it apart online. Where there is money (and oh, there is money even if it isn't based in genuine desire), there will be a film, even if Hollywood has to blackmail Bill Murray into making it. And they may.
Oh, the fans, you say dismissively. Those Comic-Con geeks. They can't make or break a film. No, but mainstream America can. And you don't know how many people -- people who rarely see new movies -- came to me licking their wounds after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There's quite a lot to be said for that whole "name recognition" and "buzz" factor, because a lot of people will come out of the woodwork for the chance to see a familiar and beloved character ride again. Why wouldn't they? They do it out of love, and it's not their fault love is traded on for the box office.
If you're skeptical, if you're thinking that moviegoers have become more discerning after the Star Wars prequels, Wall Street 2, Indy 4, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, or even The A-Team, then you've never seen the comments on those stories promising a fifth Indiana Jones film, a third X-Files, or another Ghostbusters. Even after they're burned, and burned badly, they want more out of a touching belief the next time will be better. These rumors and story tidbits are inevitably met with desperate and childish enthusiasm, and angry sniping at anyone "bitter" enough to criticize it. How can you say that? Aren't you a fan? I'm a fan. I can't get enough! The last one wasn't that bad, and what can you expect, it had been 20 years ....
Forget the delays and naysayers. Lose your blind hope in artistic integrity, and don't count on audiences to reject it because they claim they want original material. You're getting a Ghostbusters 3 because no one can ever walk away. Not fan, not writer, not actor or director. Prepare your souls, and delete its keywords out of your RSS feed. When it happens, you'll know. There's no use reading those rehashed quotes up until that terrible day.