Please Don't Make A Ghostbusters 3
Ghostbusters was released the year my older brother was born. Ghostbusters II was released the year I was born. As a filmmaker, when someone asks me what my favorite film is, I always feel like I should have a more sophisticated or pretentious answer, but if I'm being honest my answer is always Ghostbusters. I grew up watching these movies. I insisted my parents buy me the VHS. The DVDs. The action figures, including the firehouse. All the different cartoons and comic books. The CDs of the soundtrack. Even the vinyl I found at a used bookstore.
This week Harold Ramis passed away. Not only is this a sudden and tragic loss for those who loved these films, it is a loss for anyone who loves film and loves comedy.
I have considered writing a blog post about the prospect of a third Ghostbusters film several times, but never got around to it. With Harold Ramis now gone, I felt compelled to do so.
It is fair to say I have never been a fan of of this idea, primarily championed by the great Dan Aykroyd. I can understand the desire to do another one. It always seemed like there should have been a third one, to round out a trilogy. Unfortunately, that time has passed. It passed at least fifteen years ago. When Bill Murray said he would have no involvement, I knew that moving forward with this film was a bad idea. And now, without Ramis, the prospect seems unimaginable.
I can't claim to know what Aykroyd, whose loss of his friend is I'm sure greater than one can put in words, will think of the project after his grieving. All I can do is say how I feel.
Ghostbusters isn't necessarily a brilliant film (though I'm ready to make the argument if need me), but to me and many others it's a special film. When I watch Ghostbusters or Ghostbusters II or even a DVD of The Real Ghostbusters, I feel happy. I feel like a kid again. I don't know what a third film would do, but I don't think it can give me that same feeling.
Ramis is gone, but Egon Spengler is not. I know this is a cheesy way of putting it, but it's true. The power of art is the ability to live on after death. For actors, it's eternal life through the characters you depict. The script for Ghostbusters III might be great, it might be amazing, but it won't be the story that fans have developed in their heads. Whether this is a fully realized story or a subconscious one, with movies you grow up with, it's always there. When you create characters this fun and this compelling, you imagine them going on other adventures and living on. A new film, twenty-five years after the last one, can't compete with that. It will never feel right. Just look at Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The actors have aged. The visual effects are polished and new. It's simply not how you remembered it as a kid.
How would a new Ghostbusters film resolve the death of Harold Ramis? Most likely by killing Egon Spengler. Doing this would take us out of the movie and pushed us back into reality, feeling just as sad as we did this week. The best way to honor Ramis is to let his characters live on. Don't tarnish the story by changing their fates. If Aykroyd and others wish to continue the Ghostbusters legacy, I would hope they decide to do so in another medium, such as another video game or comic book. Making another film doesn't ruin the first two, but it adds a frustrating asterisk. We don't want to see these characters old or gone, because otherwise they're still with us, just like they always have been.
Who knows where Egon and the other Ghostbusters could be at this moment. Maybe he and the gang are still busting up ghosts in New York. Or maybe Egon's retired, living the sweet life out in Southern California's beautiful San Fernando Valley...
Most importantly, as Ernie Hudson said yesterday, "There can't be a Ghostbusters without Harold."