In Dan Akroyd’s original proposal for Ghostbusters, he imagined a science fiction world in which Ghostbusters were multiple teams that moved through space and time. It would have been an interesting movie to say the least. For a multitude of obvious reasons, perhaps chief of which was budget, this version of the movie never got made. Instead, we got one of the greatest adult comedies of all time. We also got a retread of a sequel that added absolutely nothing to the original film. Indeed, the climax of the movie in which the pink goo is used to power the Statue of Liberty actually undermines one of the original films main themes: that of science overcoming the supernatural. That is a real shame because there was a great Ghostbusters sequel that could have been, and it comes from the original proposal. No, not the interdimensional, unfilmable without an insane budget part, but the idea of multiple teams throughout the world has a lot of merit.
One of the great things about Ghostbusters is that it’s a smart comedy with multiple themes working below the surface, and the one about the democratization of technology is what matters here. Winston is one of the most important characters in the film. According to Movie Bob’s Really that Good series on YouTube (of which this piece owes a debt of gratitude) Winston was going to be a scientist on the level of the other members of the team. Thankfully this never happened because what Winston provides is proof that the technology developed by the original team is usable by anyone. It’s not something that requires years of specialised training to use. This means that the supernatural, god, the devil, what have you can be taken down by anyone.
Which brings us back to Akryod’s original proposal and my idea for the sequel that should have been (and why it would never have been approved). The basic concept is this: it’s years after the original movie and the original Ghostbusters are fabulously rich because they’ve franchised their technology just like a fast food company. There are now teams of Ghostbusters not just around America, but around the world. Each team is dealing with their area’s own supernatural issues. In my idea for a sequel to the film, the original team members are nowhere to be seen, which is why the movie would never have been greenlit. A sequel should do what it can to avoid retreading on the original, while keeping a similar mix of action and comedy as the original.
Proposal I: The Southern Ghostbusters
The first way to handle this is to move a sequel to Ghostbusters out of New York City, and to a brand new setting. The city is a character in both of the films, so an easy way to distinguish the sequel and give it a different feel from the first movie would be to move out of not just New York, but the entire Northeast. The movie is to be set somewhere in the south. The obvious place would be New Orleans with its rich mix of supernatural history. That’s why we’re not putting it there. A movie set in New Orleans is going to have predictable elements of voodoo, and all sorts of stereotypes that anyone could predict. Instead the film is going to be set in the unofficial capital of the south: Atlanta. Atlanta provides a wonderfully blank slate to build upon, so the film does not remind the viewer of other movies set in a town with similar themes like a Ghostbusters movie set in New Orleans would.
The cast and the villain are going to play off each other in this sequel. We’ll start with the villain: in the waning days of the Civil War a desperate slave owner casts a spell that gives him unimaginable power, but also ends up imprisoning him in the process. Something ends up releasing him in the modern world, and he directs an army of ghosts to attack the modern Atlanta which represents his loss in the world. Which brings us back to the cast: it’s going to be primarily African American with a token white guy in it. The movie is going to marinate in Southern black culture in the background. The key thing is the owner and boss is going to an African American and he’ll be the focus of the movie.
The wonderful part about the basic concept that Ghostbusters provides is though this is one proposal for a sequel there are many more opportunities Ghostbusters movies set throughout the world. Each new movie could feature a unique team that needs to put down problems that specific to their town. Not only that, once you’ve removed it from the confines of the original film there’s nothing that explicitly states that all of the films need to be comedies. It would be a very big risk that it’s doubtful that the studio would sign off on, but the idea of a supernatural murder mystery involving the Ghostbusters franchise is very cool. The entire franchise could culminate in a crossover that combines all of the previous teams, including the founders, to solve a problem too big for any one of them to deal with. Indeed, feel free to put your concepts in the comments.
Proposal II: The All-Female Model
This concept for the sequel that should have been also brings us back to the new movie and the most obvious mistake it’s making which is the fact that new movie is going to be a loose remake of the original Ghostbusters. Look, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of sexism at play in the backlash. At the same time, Ghostbusters is a perfect film anchored by four amazing performances that no remake, even a distaff one, is going to match. By choosing to remake the original Ghostbusters, in spirit if not shot for shot, the movie coming out is setting itself up to be fairly compared to the original and it will be found wanting.
The shame is that there is an easy way to do an all female Ghostbusters film without remaking the original which would also have the advantage of truly allowing the movie to be its own thing. Once again, this is my own idea and one that’s much less thought out than the previous one. Direct comparisons to the original are still something that we want to avoid, so again we’re removing the movie from New York. At this point, I wouldn’t focus too much on the setting because it doesn’t matter as much as it did with the original sequel proposal. What does matter is showing that the women are badass and can hold their own with the rest of teams.
As such, I’d propose these general outlines of the main characters: One a genius that has taken the original technology that they’ve used, and actually licensed her improvements to the rest of the Ghostbusters franchise. Then the team would need a research specialist who knows what supernatural threats may be coming out at them. This role would be vital and every team would end up needing one. Then a military veteran to add some grit and combat experience for the team that would serve as the field general for the team. Finally, though I’m almost hesitant to propose this role as a straight white dude, a lesbian version of Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman to handle the day to day operations and be the resident smartass. The team should be diverse in background and race also.
Proposal III: The Character-Driven Edict
Look, let’s be honest. When it comes to Ghostbusters, the threat almost doesn’t matter. In the original Ghostbusters, the villain was ultimately there for the characters to have something to react to, and other than the final confrontation, Gozer hardly plays a role in the story of four guys building up an empire of Ghostbusting. It was a macguffin to allow the characters to have something to fight. THAT’S how they should have done the squel to Ghostbusters to avoid becoming yet ANOTHER bloody remake.