There was a weird rumor cycle this week: Nikki Finke, former hellraiser at Deadline, launched a new site in competition with her old site and promptly began running big scoops that maybe didn't hold up. The WB/DC slate is creaky, Steve Martin said there was no Father of the Bride 3 and then Max Landis denied that he was writing Ghostbusters 3, as Finke had claimed (the article was subsequently removed).
Landis did share over Twitter his opening sequence and premise for the movie, which pretty much insures his version will never get made. A lot of people felt that Landis' ideas were good. They're wrong. Here's what Landis said:
My Ghostbusters 3 began in the 1920s with Ivo Shandor murdering a gluttonous associate to protect his cult after he has a moral objection.— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) June 18, 2014
Shandor tells the overweight man that nothing can stop the coming of Gozer; first, the gate will open in 1984, then again twenty years later— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) June 18, 2014
The fat man, who now has all the details of Shandor's plans, threatens to go to the police, and Shandor poisons him. It's scary, but...— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) June 18, 2014
As Shandor escapes, we see that we're in the Sedgewick Hotel, and that the guy we just saw die... ...Is Slimer. Cue theme. Show title.— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) June 18, 2014
That's pretty terrible on all its own; it's the kind of modern "Let's see the origin of something we never needed to know the origin of" conceit that makes many movies crummy. The fact that it resonated with so many fans on Twitter only goes to show that the audience is just as culpable for this crap as the studios. It's great to sit around with your friends and talk about Slimer's origins, but come on, do we need to fucking see it in the movie?
The rest of Landis' pitch is pretty much a riff on how you imagine Phil Lord and Chris Miller would do it: the modern Ghostbusters is an international franchise that has splintered into multiple teams. Egon is dead, Peter lives alone on an island, Winston is a millionaire in retirement and Ray is the guy trying to keep it all together even as the organization goes bankrupt and ghost activity is severly down. One team of dummy Ghostbusters summons a ghost to help lagging business, but it ends up being Gozer, which is terrible and a pointless callback to the first movie. Good Ghostbusters must rally everybody together to stop the new menace and the bad team (which Landis describes as Michael Bay-ish). It's all very meta, Landis says, with the idea of the whole thing being a disaster nobody wants to touch and that rehashing the past is a mistake.
To be fair this is probably the best Ghostbusters 3 pitch I've heard because of one simple thing:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD Ghostbusters 3 PITCH.
You cannot have a good idea for what is already a very bad idea. Ghostbusters was singular in its perfection, and Ghostbusters 2 pretty much proved that. We have scientific proof that even the same guys getting together at their peak couldn't match the magic of the first film, so why try again? What unexplored story is there in Ghostbusters that calls out for us? Is it just "Well, they could fight other ghosts"? Because that's not really a story, it's kind of a pitch for a TV show. That's the kind of logic that gets you Ghostbusters 12 with YouTube stars in the lead.
Just because a thing can be franchised indefinitely - guys comedically trap ghosts is vague enough that you could do it forever - doesn't mean you should. We used to understand this on a cultural level, that sometimes a thing is really good and that thing being really good is quite enough. We don't need to go back and keep redoing that thing until we suck the wonder, the joy and the magic out of it. We can leave that thing with dignity, revisiting it over time. You can never see the same sunset twice, so why stand in the same place and keep trying to will it back? GO SEE NEW SUNSETS.
Of course this is financial. Ghostbusters 3 will happen because Sony needs franchises because franchises are the basis upon which all modern studio slates are built. This is an IP they have and they can exploit it and they will exploit it. But you're making them even more eager to exploit it when you get on Twitter and say how great Landis' idea was (which again, no offense to Max, was objectively not great and reads like someone trying to hop on the Lord/Miller meta/ironic-yet-sincere bandwagon), or when io9 writes a story saying it's too bad Landis won't get to make his version. This shit EMBOLDENS these people. They get to have research that shows there are people sitting around getting excited about this fundamentally, obviously bad idea.
Will a Ghostbusters 3 happen? Probably. But here's the thing: we should not only be rooting against it happening, we should probably be rooting for it to fail. I don't want people at Sony to lose their jobs, but I do want to see the grave-robbing and the nostalgia strip-mining end. I'm not against franchises in general - I love continuing series that make sense as continuing series! - but not everything needs to be a franchise.
Ghostbusters doesn't need to be a franchise.