Latest 'Ghostbusters 3' news: Murray in? Aykroyd guarantees hit, parts 3,4?

Aykroyd, courtesy Sony Pictures
Interesting news day on the continuing Ghostbusters 3 saga but the end questions remain the same:

Will Bill Murray do it or won't he, and is this movie actually happening?

First up is an interview with Dan Aykroyd in Esquire. In addition to touching on his personal connection to the paranormal, Aykroyd confirms that he is still on the GB3 wagon and remains the big "cheerleader" of the project.

While the script isn't finalized, Aykroyd says, "I've worked on every draft in the last three years, as Ivan [Reitman] has, and now we have a story and a draft that everybody seems to agree would make the third movie. At this point, I think we're closer than we ever have been."

He adds that all his work on the project, so far, has gone on without pay, and he's looking to get a budget set up from Sony.

"I'm hoping that I can get that production number set up in L.A. and help everyone bring the movie to fruition, as the originator and creator of the concept. If it does not happen, the life of Dan Aykroyd and his family and friends will be quite full without Ghostbusters 3."

As for the script from [The Office writers] Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, which Murray said had been tossed, Aykroyd dodges the question about whether that's still in play. He says he and Reitman have worked on every draft of the script, but that Stupnitsky and Eisenberg might get "some kind of credit" but "I don't know what the final, final draft is gonna be." But it is being written with Etan Cohen, who also wrote Men In Black 3.

However, the actor does say the Stupnitsky/Eisenberg hit, which did have the Murray-as-ghost concept, would have been a box-office success - if Bill Murray had signed on to it.
"Had Billy chosen to do the Eisenberg/Stupnitsky script of two years ago, it would be out this summer, and it would be a massive hit. If Billy had said yes, it would have satisfied his performance and what he wanted in the movie, it would have satisfied his performing skill and how he wanted to be depicted in the movie, it would have satisfied the studio, the writers who wrote it, everybody — Ivan, me, Harold, we were all happy with it. Then when he said, "Absolutely not, I'm not in this," we had to go and really rethink things. He abrogated his say in the project, abrogated his rights to have any say in it by refusing the third offer from the picture company"
This comment is a little different than what we've heard before; previously, it was understood that Aykroyd, Murray, Reitman and director Harold Ramis and the studio all had to sign off on the project in order to move forward.

"We all have to sign off on it unanimously," Aykroyd concurs, but adds, "I'm not sure Billy does anymore, since he abrogated his rights by sort of, by saying, two years ago he said, 'I don't want to be involved,' and the picture company I think had some clause in there that if he actually passed on the third of fourth offer, he no longer has a view of the franchise."

But creatively, Aykroyd says Murray will always be a part of the franchise even though he's out - and that he'll always build a hole into the movie for his friend should he choose to return.

Says Aykroyd, "I'd love to have Billy call me tomorrow and say, 'Let's go to work and start writing.'"

So Bill Murray is officially out of Ghostbusters 3. Again. Right?

Nope, not if you believe

Picking up a story from WENN, is reporting that Murray has officially signed on to reprise his role of Peter Venkman after going on a summer party tour and witnessing fan support for his return.

The site also sources a report where Ramis was quoted as saying: "It was kind of crazy. Just out of nowhere, I get a phone call from Bill at almost three in the morning... and he simply said, 'Yeah, OK, I'm in!' That's Bill Murray for you. Surprising and straight to the point." adds that the movie, to begin shooting in Feb. 2013, would see the return of Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett and currently-retired actor Rick Moranis as Louis Tully. As for the newcomers, who will likely assume the GB mantle as young recruits, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Rogen and Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser were mentioned for the job.

Aykroyd did confirm that the plot of the new movie would involve the "next generation" of busters who are "dealing with a problem, as the first movie did" but that "we would have to hand it off to the young."

The problem with this report so far? It smells like a really good hoax. And it doesn't help that Sony has yet to confirm's story.

And the speculation doesn't end with GB3. Aykroyd further tells Esquire that, if the next movie was a success, he could go on to do additional installments "Man-hell-ttan" and "Ghostbusters in hell" (which he already wrote with recently-deceased Saturday Night Live scribe Tom Davis).

But Aykroyd guarantees that GB3 would be a success, and adds a friendly warning to Sony:
"If they make this movie, in its current shape, they would be looking at a pretty hefty, nine-figure return. And so I'm hoping they get on to move it, but if they don't, I have multiple trains. I've got tracks six, seven, and nine, and that's four. I'll be moving on to other things, as will Ivan, by the way. We can't wait forever. And now's the time to tell the picture company, and I'd say this quite publically, it's time now to sit down and make this movie, or you will lose your main principals, and you won't be able to make it without us, because we have rights, and now is time to make the movie."
So where does this leave all us fans who suddenly don't feel so good about bustin'? Basically it is another chapter in this long story. But we're no closer to actually seeing anyone strap on the proton packs.

-Aaron Sagers