First off, let's take a moment out of respect for Harold Ramis, who died Monday at the age of 69. The director ("Groundhog Day"), writer ("Animal House") and actor ("Stripes") was a "brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher," and Dan Aykroyd, who posted that tribute on Facebook, would know.
Ramis and Aykroyd both came up on the stages of the Second City improv troupe, worked on seminal TV comedy shows in the 1970s — Ramis on "SCTV," and Aykroyd on "Saturday Night Live" — and went onto big-screen success. Together, they wrote and costarred in "Ghostbusters," the blockbuster 1984 special-effects comedy that may still be the only funny special-effects comedy ever made, outside of "Ghostbusters II."
Speculation about a second sequel, a "Ghostbusters 3," has been around about as long as "Ghostbusters II," and that'll be going on 25 years this summer.
In 1996, Aykroyd was quoted as saying he'd completed a draft for "Ghostbusters 3," and that Sony, which had gobbled up Columbia Pictures, the franchise's original studio, "definitely wants to make it."
At the time, Aykroyd said he'd been discussing the project with Ramis, but noted that Ivan Reitman, who directed the two "Ghostbusters" movies, and Bill Murray, who was chief Ghostbuster Dr. Peter Venkman, were out.
"I can definitely see Chris Farley stepping into the cast — he'd make a great ghostbuster," Aykroyd said, "and so would Will Smith." Farley died in 1997, and that version of "Ghostbusters 3" never materialized.
A decade later, in 2008, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, co-executive producers of "The Office," who'd collaborated with Ramis on the script for the filmmaker's comedy "Year One," were tapped to work on a "Ghostbusters" "reunion film," Variety reported. "While original castmembers Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson could return, it’s believed that the film will pass the torch to a new group of ghost chasers," the Hollywood trade reported.
Along those lines, Sigourney Weaver, who played Venkman's sometimes-possessed love interest in "Ghosbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," said in a 2009 UK TV interview that she "might" be in the new movie, "although I don't think I will have a big part in it."
"I think Bill Murray has a little more to do with it — he might be a ghost,” Weaver said.
The same year, Ramis said to "Access Hollywood" that the trick of the sequel was balancing the old with the new. In another interview around the same time, he said that when Eisenberg's and Stupnitsky's first draft was ready: "Everybody will take a deep breath, and read it and see if we want to proceed."
"If [the public] only had two 'Ghostbusters,' we'd all be fine," Ramis said. "... [F]or us, it's always going to be about character."
In 2010, Ramis fell seriously ill. According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, an infection related to the rare autoimmune disease that would claim his life left him unable to walk. He would recover, but relapse in 2011, the newspaper reported.
Ramis' health struggles were not widely known, but looking back now they coincide with reduced chatter on the "Ghostbusters 3" front.
In 2012, Weaver told MTV News she'd yet to see a script. Commenting on a rumor that Murray had seen one, and shredded it, the actress said, "It's Bill, so it could very well be true."
In the wake of Ramis' death, the last word on "Ghostbusters 3" might have already come from Aykroyd, who in 1996 said, "I wouldn't want to make it without Harold."
But while you mourn Ramis, you don't necessarily need to mourn the "Ghostbusters" franchise.
In 2009, the original "Ghostbuters" players, from Murray on down to Ernie Hudson, reunited for a video game, titled "Ghostbusters," that was scripted in part by Aykroyd and Ramis.
"It's really the third movie," Ayrkoyd said. "If you want to see 'Ghostbusters 3,' it's the game. It's really, really good."