Most things come with a “past due” date, and that includes directing jobs. For Ivan Reitman, the moment he decided to bow out of helming the long-gestating Ghostbusters III occurred when he returned from his friend Harold Ramis’ funeral, held in Chicago last month.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Reitman told EW of the decision. “When I came back from the funeral, I thought it would be better to turn the director’s chores over to someone else and let me produce it.”
Reitman, 67, was in Las Vegas on Thursday night to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at CinemaCon while promoting his upcoming film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner. Reitman had been developing Ghostbusters III with Ramis and two different sets of writers for over three years. The first script, written by the team behind Bad Teacher and Ramis’ last feature Year One, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, was very Bill Murray-centric, according to Reitman.
The director corrected the rumor floating around the Internet that Murray didn’t like the script, indicating instead that the quirky comedian was no longer interested in leading-man roles.
“There were a lot of stories about how he read the script and it wasn’t up to his standards. I think he may have read 15 to 20 pages,” says Reitman, recalling a lengthy dinner he had with Murray at the Toronto Film Festival a couple of years ago where the actor distilled his current philosophy for his career. “[The dinner] started at about 10:30 and ended at 4 a.m. We closed down the restaurant. And he just said, ‘Look, I’m not interested in doing these movies anymore. I like doing these small parts. I don’t want to feel the weight and the burden of all that.’ And I understood it. And it came from a good place in his heart.”
Once it was clear Murray wasn’t interested, screenwriter Etan Cohen took over the scripting duties with a new draft focused “more about new people,” said Reitman, and the director felt it was time to pass it on. Though he remains a producer, Reitman wouldn’t confirm the latest news that attaches Lego directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to the franchise. “We don’t know yet,” he said.