Friday, March 02, 2012

Venkman v. Stantz - Nobody wins.

If you didn't realize, I'm passionate about three things...Comic book movies, the Muppets, and the Ghostbusters (I'm passionate about a few other things...Dr. Pepper, Bacon, Ron Swanson, the demise of Whitney Cummings' career, my wife and family...pretty much in that order too).  Comic book movies have taken off beyond my wildest dreams. The Muppets returned to the big screen last fall, and it seems as if a sequel is going to happen. So that leaves the Ghostbusters.
A few years back, a video game was released and based on the hype, a third installment of the franchise was rumored to begin. Since then, we've heard a lot of back and forth statements from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, two of the stars of the franchise and more importantly, property right holders.  As it seems, Aykroyd is pushing for a new film with him, Harold Ramis, and Ivan Reitman writing the script, but officially Bill Murray has stated that he will not be involved in the project. In the battle of Venkman vs. Stantz, it seems as if nobody, especially the fans, will get to win as Ghostbusters 3 remains in limbo. Since Murray is a property rights holder, one can only hope that Aykroyd can convince him to sign off on a script.

Once they get passed the property rights issue, there is a few ways to handle the making of this film. The first is a complete reboot with new cast playing the same characters but in today's setting. Yawn, boring. I don't want that.  The second is to make a sequel with the originals by recasting Murray's Venkman character or by writing him out and including a character to replace him like Louis Tully (getting Rick Moranis out of retirement).  But honestly, who wants to see that film...Aykroyd, Moranis, Ramis, and Hudson are too old to be believable ghost-chasing scientists (those proton packs look heavy). If it came down between sequel or reboot, I'd go with reboot. Luckily, we have another choice. The obvious decision is to make a retooling sequel or "requel" like J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek or this summer's G.I. Joe: Retaliation. This type of remake allows the torch to be passed to new actors/actresses and the originals remain somewhat involved as their characters become either mentors or some other aspect in the story. I came up with an idea about Ghostbusters 3 last December when it was rumored that Murray shredded the script that Aykroyd, Ramis, and Reitman wrote. Now, I'm going to expand on that idea for Mr. Aykroyd and company, so this film can be made. I'm offering free initial script writing ideas and casting ideas in exchange for this film being made properly.

Open the movie with Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) walking towards a small banquet hall. Outside the door, he greets Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), Janine Melnitz-Tully (Annie Potts), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) who were waiting for him. Dana Barrett (Sigorney Weaver) approaches and she mentions how Venkman wished he could be here but he was enjoying his retirement and busy with a golf tournament. This discussion happens as they walk inside to find a new character played by Mr. Park's and Recreations himself...Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) along with a banner stating that this is Stantz's retirement gathering. Offerman's character is introduced to Dana. During this time it is explained that the most senior agent (Offerman) is taking over for Stantz as head of the New York branch and Louis/Janine are still the heads of the Los Angeles branch (this is homage to the video game when they mentioned franchising the Ghostbusters). Egon introduces another new character to Louis, Janine, and Dana. This character is Egon's protégé played by Kal Penn. Egon explains how he is no longer in the field and just works in the laboratory with Penn to develop new equipment. Penn explains how occasionally he goes out to test equipment, but usually he leaves the field-testing to another field agent (a new Ray-type character). Egon says soon enough Penn will take over for me. Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson) walks up to congratulate Ray, and Ray calls him "Mr. Mayor." Ray, Egon, Dana, Louis, Janine, Winston Offerman's character, and Penn's character sit down for dinner and a slideshow begins explaining the growth of the Ghostbusters since the last film...AKA opening credits' scene.
What I've done here is not kill Venkman and make a comment about Murray's true life perspective of playing golf and being semi-retired.  I've also grown the Ghostbusters into something unexpected with an East Coast Office and a West Coast one. We've had cameos of most of the originals. Winston is the only Ghostbuster that I could see moving on to a public role such as mayor. I read on IMDB that the Mayor of the original movies is rumored to be President in #3...President Lenny (David Margulies) and I could support that idea...I could see a scene when Mayor Winston, Egon, and Ray are in the Oval office and President Lenny is saying "I can't get away from you yahoos!" Also with this introduction, I've started introducing the new recruits and expanded their roles beyond just the four original guys with new characters (Penn's character is comparable to Q in James Bond).
Ecto-5 pulls up to the Firehouse and on the building is a re-elect Zeddmore for Mayor sign.  The guys get out of the's Dan Fogler (covered in protoplasmic slime), Chris Pratt (with a strange looking Proton pack), Melissa McCarthy, and Bret Harrison. Emma Stone is sitting at Janine's old desk.  This is the the New York Branch Office of the Ghostbusters under leader ship of Nick Offerman.  Mayor Zeddmore, Ray, Egon, Dana, Janine, and Louis all come in and the team apologizes for missing Ray's retirement banquet. Dana gets overly excited to see her son, Oscar (Bret Harrison is my choice, but I'm guessing the studio would go with Michael Cera, Jesse Eisenberg, or Christopher Mintz-Passe). 
After this scene which is 15 to 20 minutes into the movie, we barely see the originals except for Egon in the lab with Penn on occasion.  Louis and Janine return to L.A. Mayor Winston goes back to his office and is busy with reelection so he can't provide much help throughout the movie. Ray goes home to rest for his retirement. And Dana may be used once or twice in scenes with her son.  So, the new Ghostbusters (East Coast branch) has been established:
Harrison is Oscar (the baby from Ghostbusters 2) the nube/rookie...Pratt is our new Stantz-like character....Penn is the Egon-like researcher....Fogler is Venkman-ishly with his attitude....Offerman is the boss/leader...McCarthy is a grounded-type character like Winston....and lastly, Emma Stone will be the new receptionist.  I've created an interesting beginning for the next installment of the Ghostbusters franchise and now I'll lay the ground work for a plot...and someone else can fill in the additional story details later.
Of course, a strong spectral enemy will definitely be the villain, but how this creature comes about is key to the plot of this story.  That's why I've created the anti-ghostbusters or spectral terrorists. They are lead by two individuals who the Ghostbusters have wronged and are seeking revenge. Walter Peck (William Aterton) and Jack Hardemeyer (Kurt Fuller) who lead a rag-tag bunch of humans (Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Horatio Sanz, Eliza Dushku) who all have personal reasons to want to destroy the ghostbusters, but one of them is psychotic enough to want to destroy life as we know it.  The goal of the group is to summon some sort of monster to defeat the Ghostbusters, and the secret goal of one is to bring back a demon or a demi-God or some other creature with plans to take control of the world.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda...things happen, ghosts are busted. Jokes, humor, CGI ghosts...and perhaps this time the entire United States (instead of just NYC) is in peril, therefore the originals can do that scene with President Lenny.  And then final confrontation...the twist is that both the East Coast and West Coast team's combine to eliminate this threat.  So, Tully's West Coast team arrives to help and we finally meet them at the end (surprise everyone with these...don't use them in promos).  Bruce Campbell, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Damon Wayans Jr., and Paul Rudd make their "end of the movie" entrance to help save the day. And who knows...maybe the west coast branch will be featured in the fourth chapter of this franchise...along with the return of Bill Murray who just may change his mind after the success of #3.

I've come up with this idea to run with, and what is still needed is character names and personalities, all the dialogue, a sub-plot, and a great design to an awesome monster to fight at the end. So Mr. Aykroyd, the ball is now in your court. And in case you aren't Mr. Aykroyd or involved on the writing staff of Ghostbusters 3, then just let me know in the comments what you think of my casting ideas and story.