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This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Harold Ramis‘ death on Feb. 24 has left Hollywood’s comedy community with a mammoth void, since the writer-director-actor touched the careers of everyone from Bill Murray to Judd Apatow to Jack Black. His passing also has left Sony scrambling to keep Ghostbusters III on track since Ramis, who died at age 69 due to complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, was to have made a cameo appearance in the film.
The sequel’s director, Ivan Reitman, is scheduled to meet with Sony production brass in the coming days to assess how to move forward on the project, which is in active development, according to sources. Ramis, Murray and Dan Aykroyd, who starred together in the 1984 original and its 1989 sequel, were poised to appear briefly in the third outing to set up a baton-passing to a trio of newcomers.
The script, written by The Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, will now need to be revamped.
“There will be some repercussions,” says a project insider.
A studio source downplayed the impact on the project, however, insisting that Ramis was involved in Ghostbusters III only minimally. Ramis, who co-wrote the first two Ghostbusters, held a first-dollar gross stake in the third film along with Reitman, Aykroyd and Murray — a position that will revert to his estate. But no deals have been inked yet, and there have been signs that the principals instead would take break-even cuts in order to get the film off the ground.
“He was always great to bounce something off of, and that will certainly be missed,” the source says of Ramis. “But it won’t affect the script.”
Even before Ramis’ death, the script had not progressed enough for the film to begin shooting in 2014. Now, the studio will have to adjust without an onscreen assist from Ramis’ Dr. Egon Spengler.
The reticent Murray, who also worked with Ramis on such comedy classics as Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day as well as a National Lampoon show off-Broadway, offered a succinct good-bye to his former collaborator: “He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.”
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