The upcoming 2020 follow-up to Ghostbusters will cap off some two decades of "true Ghostbusters sequel" talk. For years, original Ghostbusters co-star and co-writer Dan Aykroyd was quoted saying he was nearing production on Ghostbusters 3, an international take known as "Hellbent." That would have taken the team into Scotland then back to a spirit-infested Manhattan (called “Manhellton" after a demonic takeover) with planned co-star Adam Baldwin in the villain role. "We kind of lost interest for a while there. After the second movie, it was successful, but everybody went on to new things," Aykroyd told GameSpot during the lead-up to Ghostbusters Fan Fest in Los Angeles.
"We tried different stories. Nobody was happy with the story. I think Hellbent could have worked, but I had other collaborators there, and we were all a team. Harold [Ramis], Ivan [Reitman], myself, Bill [Murray]–no one found a story that we all liked," lamented Aykroyd.
A well-received Ghostbusters video game came out in 2009 (and there's an HD remaster due out soon). Aykroyd himself compares that to a third movie, although the script was internally written at developer Terminal Reality. All four stars–Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis–returned to their roles. A movie, however, wasn't to be.
In 2016, Paul Feig directed a Ghostbusters reboot with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones starring. Aykroyd was one of the executive producers. "I really liked the ladies' movie. I liked the idea, and I liked the movie, I just wish that I'd been watching the economics of it, as one of the sets of eyes that was producing it," said Aykroyd.
With a production budget of $144 million, the box office draw was $229 million worldwide. Despite that, thanks to a gargantuan marketing budget, Sony didn't turn a profit. "You trust the director, and he had his vision, so we let him do his vision, and just economically, it stopped us from doing another ladies' movie. I would have loved that, and maybe we will someday," said Aykroyd. "Those are master comediennes there, and really, I think this thing's going to do really well in DVD and ancillary, and they're going to make their money back someday."
Before release (and after too), the cast members became targets of online harassment. At one point, Leslie Jones deleted her Twitter account to get away from the hate. Aykroyd didn't take the vitriolic response lightly when asked about it. "Everybody that is in comedy, everybody that knows a good performance, and anybody who's a fan of those four ladies, just loved the picture, because they really delivered. Anything less than that, is simply just straight up prejudice and bias that should not be tolerated in any way, in my view," he said.
In spite of the 2016 box office, a 2020 film is a go. The still untitled sequel will again see Aykroyd in a producer role, with Ivan Reitman's son, Jason Reitman, directing. "Jason came up with this idea, which is just so good, everybody got it right away and understood. It will connect, better than anything, to the first movie," said Aykroyd. "That's about all I can say about it, but the two movies will connect, in a way that hasn't been done before."
With Wizard World's Ghostbusters Fan Fest recently held on Sony's studio lot in LA and a 35th anniversary SteelBook 4K Blu-ray release including both original films out now, Ghostbusters fandom doesn't show signs of slowing down. There's reason to be excited. Co-star Sigourney Weaver confirmed to Parade she is set to return as Dana Barrett in the new film. She'll be joined by Bill Murray, and at Fan Fest, Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson were also confirmed.
In between movie roles, Aykroyd makes appearances to promote his Crystal Head Vodka. It's clear to him the passion is out there. "Out of 300 or 400 people, there will be 20 or 30 Ghostbusters," said Aykroyd, speaking about cosplayers who show up to his events. "10% come with suits, and full packs… that they've built off the internet. They've turned the family wagon into the Ecto 1 and 2. It's so fun to see. They've got their kids dressed up as them, and they're passing it on to a third generation."
With the two originals, 2016, and untitled 2020 Ghostbusters, this will be a generation lucky enough to have four Ghostbusters movies carrying them through childhood, and likely leading to additional generations hooked on trapping spirits.