From: Jeff Gould, CEO of Development, Columbia Pictures
To: B. Murray
Re: Script for Ghostbusters 3
Bill- got your script yesterday. Been throwing around the idea all day with some guys from writing. Aykroyd and Ramis did great things (as you know) with the first two Ghostbuster films, and we are excited to have another one of the cast members from the movie take an interest in the behind-the-scenes development for the features! Some notes:
At first we were a little hesitant to change the primary location of the films from New York to the remote recesses of Scandinavia. While we are all for switching things up to keep it new and interesting for young audiences, you can't deny that the New York location provided many of the fun and exciting elements of the first films. The statue of Liberty, the New York sewer (and judicial!) systems- all of these provided quirky sets and plot devices for ghosts and demons to run around in. While we're sure that the Nordic beauty of Scandinavia would provide gorgeous shots for the scenes in which your character, Dr. Peter Venkman, ruminates on the "frivolity of life and failed interpersonal relationships"(?) we were just wondering how this background would be a good backdrop for the fast-paced fight scenes with other-worldly bad guys that have become the trademark of this franchise. Maybe a chase scene- something on a ski-slope? The lack of any sort of villains (besides "the relentless march of time and its inevitable conclusion") whatsoever needs to be discussed further- an oversight perhaps? We were thinking something with bigfoot or the abominable snowman. Or ooh, the ghost of Bigfoot. Larry from marketing came up with that idea and we think it has big toy potential. Maybe have the voice played by Ricky Gervais . Or anyway, someone british to fit in with the European locale. Get back to us.
Which brings me to my second point:
We actually liked the idea of killing of Ray off-screen, before the movie starts. Aykroyd's over the hill. Good, he's gone. As long as we keep Winston at least peripherally in the picture, we probably shouldn't hear too many complaints about a formulaic death too early on. But here's where we hit a snag: in addition to featuring almost no supernatural bad guys (except for the aformentioned and brief mentions of "the looming specter of death" who never even makes an appearance, by the way) your script doesn't do much for screen time in the way of the other Ghostbusters. Sure, there's the scenes in which you confer with Egon over internet-teleconference (by the way, a LOT of this terminology needs to be updated) over whether or not it would be ethical for a doctor to "hit it" with his patient/long time girlfriend Dana is pretty funny, but the dialogue scene is only two minutes long and it might need to be cut right after the part with Venkman minimizes the box to masturbate to computer porn for twenty minutes. Sure, it might represent the pathetic final chapter in your character's "tragically frustrated and neurotic relationship with women" but we're trying to keep this pg-rated, ok? Although there might be a hilarious cameo-potential for the Ghostbuster's mascott Slimer in here somewhere.
Speaking of Dana:
I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no way that audience's are going to buy that a character played by Sigourney Weaver in the first two films is now magically a 20 years younger Natalie Portman. No way. Not even if they bought the (stretching it!) plot device of the "de-ageifier" that she slips and falls into somewhere before the movie starts. Plus...it's just gross. Yes, it's still disgusting even if your character's never technically get it on- you still spend half the movie naked in bed with her, stroking her hair and crying. Honestly, it makes us all a little uncomfortable.
However- we do agree the film needs a shot of young blood. So we were thinking Dana's son could make an appearance, maybe help you out on one of those "spirit journeys" your character seems to be so fond of. For example: instead of a half-hour scene of you taking peyote and doing that weird tai-chi shit on top of a mountain, maybe it could be you and I dunno, say, Justin Long (too soon?) fighting the ghost of the abominable snowman. Or, even better yet, maybe we can get Tom Hanks kid, whatshisname, Shia Labeouf. Maybe we could have him fall in love with Morranis's kid with Annie Potts- who no, before you even ask, cannot be played by Jessica Alba, Jessica Beall, or any of the Jessica's for that matter. We were thinking more like Heather Matarazzo.
Just one more quick note before we move on to the next section: Venkman has traditionally been the comedic relief for these films. With your character clocking in the most amount of dialogue than any of the other characters, a whole whopping twenty lines (and approximately zero one-lined patented Zingers- Murray, what are we making here? Apocolypse Now?!? What happened here, we need to talk.....) you are putting almost all the responsibility here on Harold Ramis' directorial ability. Which IS ample, I grant you. Do you know he guest-directed three episodes of The Office last season? Now that's funny writing.
Note to self: Look into getting John Krasinski into this feature. He seems to be a good counter-part to over the hill unfunny comedians. This might actually be a step-up from License to Wed. Couldn't hurt to check. Promise him Natalie Portman for a romantic interest.
Here's where we hit our biggest snag, Bill: this movie doesn't seem to have one. A plot. You know, the thing that keep the audience in their seats instead of walking out halfway through the film saying "what's this CRAP?"
I know this is your first attempt at screen writing so I've made things easier by boiling them to two main points:
a. Walking around a beautiful landscape with a woman half your age does not a movie make. What do you think we're making here, a Truffaut? A Godard?
No Bill, this is Ghostbusters 3 for the love of....listen, they lampooned it on The Critic eight years ago, and they did a better job at a plot than this! Note to self: Voice of Winston to be played by John Lovitz? Check into it.
b. Vigo the Carpathian.
Staypuff Marshmellow Man.
Ring any bells? These were bad guys people could grasp! They made great opponents for the final level of video games! They were catchy and people remembered them. Not to beat a dead horse here Bill, but we're kinda getting the sense that these corporeal "demons" of yours are more neurosis than actual menaces to the great city of Stockholm. Or Coppanhagen. The ghost of Hans Christian Anderson destroying the country-side by recreating his stories in a grisly manner? That's scary.
You spending ten minutes studying your greying hairs in a mirror? Well that's scary too, albiet in a totally non-marketable way.
Now, we're not saying that this plot is totally unsaleable. Only that its going to need a couple rewrites here and there, maybe a ghost or two, maybe some people you know.....busting those ghosts. Maybe somebody calling in to your establishment, knowing exactly who 'they gonna call to deal with this specific situation of ghostly adominable snowmen controlled by the ghost of Hans Christian Anderson.
Note to self: Steve Carrell as Hans?
No Bill, we're more worried about you than the actual script. See there's dead-pan, and then there's you. Take some Prozac, do some coke, go on a bender. Just give us back the Bill we love, the Bill from Groundhog Day, the Bill from Caddyshack, hell, we'll settle for the Bill from What About Bob?
And for the love of God, please stop hanging out with Jim Jarmusch. Nothing good has every come from that. Just ask Chrispin Glover.
We remain, as always, loyal fans,
Jeff Gould and Columbia Pictures.