It’s ‘official,’ Bill Murray is returning to the Ghostbusters franchise as Peter Venkman. Murray first portrayed the ignoble pseudo-scientist-turned-paranormal-pest-exterminator over 35 years ago in 1984, last donning the famous jumpsuit in 1989’s Ghostbusters II.
The franchise’s film iteration then lay dormant, crypt undisturbed for 27 years until it was famously rebooted in 2016 with an all-ladies team of spirit police. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, the film made $123.3M domestic ($100.8M international) against a $144M production budget. While it pulled in most of the surviving major players from the original films (Murray, Dan Aykrody, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver), none of them reprised their original roles and instead appeared in fan-service cameos irrelevant to the plot. Most notably, despite the film’s lackluster box office performance, it spawned a shitshow of epic proportions that pitted “a bunch of dim manchildren” and “nerd rage” against “adulthood,” enlightenment, and a generally (hopefully) more accepting world.
At the core of much of this whining was the fact that the film lived outside the original world, didn’t feature the original characters, and starred four women in place of the four men who started it all. Childhoods were ruined. Grown men cried. Many hands were rung at just how bad this film was. Many other hands were rung in response to this negativity. And then people just went back and forth in the sort of pointless debate that defines the internet and everything we love most about it.
Despite this, there was near immediate talk of a sequel. But that box office. It did not overwhelm. It barely even whelmed. With production budgets that big, a domestic loss is not a good indicator to continue moving forward in the same vein. Even Suicide Squad, a film universally torn to shreds by critics, scored $325M domestic against its $175M production budget and an additional $746.8M internationally. Note too that while Suicide Squad is a ‘superhero movie,’ it wasn’t built on the foundation of a beloved 80s franchise. So, apparently nerd rage or man-children, through the whining, made a point that someone at Columbia Pictures and Sony heard: bring them back.
So they did. On November 8, 2019 Dan Aykroyd confirmed that the original cast (minus Harold Ramis who passed away in 2014) would return to the franchise. In naming names, he included Murray, but this has only just now been confirmed by Murray himself. They’re bringing everyone back: Weaver, Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson, but not Rick Moranis: never Rick Morranis. They even got OG director Ivan Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman, to direct this iteration. The trailer features all the original toys: the jumpsuits, the backpacks, the traps, and the whip. Hell, it looks like they’ve let the dogs out again!
To be clear, I was disappointed with the last film. I don’t think it’s particularly good, but more so than that, this one was one franchise with original characters that deserved another chapter featuring the original world. So often we get sequels that we never asked for, let alone wanted, and not the sequels we deserve. Now, we’re getting one. My personal hope, as the years went on and the original cast aged out of reprising their roles in an exact capacity, was that they’d return in mentor roles to hand the reigns, or power packs, over to a new generation who would continue the grand tradition of busting some ghosts and answering frantic phone calls from those plagued by them. It seems that’s exactly what we’re going to get, and I’m fairly excited to see it when the film bows in July this year.