With Ghostbusters: Afterlife set to further the famous story that began in 1984, we look back at what could have been and why the original concept for Ghostbusters 3 never happened.
Ghostbusters revolutionised movie making upon it’s initial release. Written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, the movie saw a small team of scientists effectively going into business – to tackle supernatural threats.
The crew consisted of both Ramis and Aykroyd, as well as rising comedy star Bill Murray and relative unknown actor Ernie Hudson, working together to defend Manhattan from a paranormal menace.
The movie was highly successful and a sequel shortly followed, which saw the same team return to face another demonic character attempting to come back from the dead.
The franchise also quickly began to expand, branching into other areas, such as a cartoon TV show, comic books and a video game.
During production of Ghostbusters II (1989), plans for a third film began. Again written by Ray Stanz aka Dan Aykroyd. However, Harold Ramis had reservations about continuing the franchise, because of both the cast’s ages and increasing difficulty to get all the stars to come back together.
Things got more complicated with Bill Murray stating he didn’t want to do another one, or at least would need his character killing off. This death wish was actually fulfilled in the ill-fated Ghostbusters reboot in 2016, which saw Murray make a small cameo alongside other original cast members.
The story for the third movie would have been a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II. Seeing the original team retiring in the early 21st century before coming back together one last time to battle a plague of poltergeists. Venkman would have left, and Egon and Ray would have attempted to continue the business.
The movie was titled Ghostbusters III: Hellbent, and would have taken the team to a hellish alternate version of Manhattan called ‘Manhellton’, with Hell acting as the source for the story’s conflict and the team actually going on to meet Lucifer himself.
In the story, Manhellton was going to be explored by the team after Hell begins to get too crowded and hordes of damned souls begin to roam the Earth, which would have unleashed the “poltergeist plague”.
Similarly to the upcoming Afterlife, Hellbent would have served as an introduction to a brand new and younger team of Ghostbusters.
Reports have stated the new team would have consisted of Franky, a “body-pierced, tough New Jersey punker”, Moira, a “pretty but uptight gymnast and science graduate”, Lovell, a “dreadlocked dude”, Carla, “a Latino beauty”, and Nat, a “prepubescent genius whose powerful brain has made his head abnormally large”. Nat would have also served as the supervisor for the new team.
With the story planned out, it seemed a shame to let it go to waste, and so the story was integrated into the fantastic Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which sees the team training a new member known as “the rookie”.
The plot for the game revisits pieces of the first film, as both the team and “the rookie” have to take down the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man once again. But the story doesn’t stop there.
On another mission, the player travels to the New York Public Library, where the player encounters the Librarian Ghost. This leads to a portal being opened to the Ghost World, which is beginning to merge with the human one after a mysterious mandala is discovered to be drawing in ghosts.
The team are dragged into the Ghost World and are forced to battle a Satanic being called the Architect, the Destructor Form of Shandor. This was based on the original ideas for Ghostbusters: Hellbent. Dan Aykroyd has gone on to state that he considers the game “essentially the third movie”.
But what happened to the film?
Over the years, a third Ghostbusters film kept being brought up and tested, with many versions being written after Aykroyd’s original script. One, written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, would have seen a passing of the torch story, where Venkman died in the first act and Dana’s son Oscar would have become a new Ghostbuster.
The closest to being made was a story by Etan Cohan, which, again, would have seen Venkman die, but becoming a ghost, as well as a group of students from Columbia University picking up the Ghostbusters mantle.
The director of the original films, Ivan Reitman, was set to return to the director’s chair for this story, but after the sad passing of Harold Ramis in 2014, he decided to step down.
All of this and Bill Murray’s reluctance to appear in another film proved to be big obstacles for Sony Pictures, so the decision was made to reboot the franchise, with Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) taking over.
Unfortunately for him, the reboot fared badly at the box office, forcing the studio to rethink, even though both Feig and the cast had already signed on for a further two films.
This led the studio to decide to create a direct sequel to the original films and bring Ivan Reitman’s son Jason Reitman on board to direct and co-write.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will see the original cast return, including Bill Murray, but will mainly focus on a group of teenagers uncovering the tech and becoming the next generation of Ghostbusters.
At this point in time, plot points are scarce, but based on the trailer and the fan reaction, it seems like the legacy of Ghostbusters will continue to live on.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will be released 10th July 2020