Bill Murray's Storied Ghostbusters History: Will He Return In Next Year's Film?

Venkman, the paranormal slacker who inspired his brilliant friends to start a business catching ghosts, might return in Jason Reitman's 2020 Ghostbusters film.

May 17th, 2019

Bill Murray has famously hesitated reviving the role of Dr. Peter Venkman, the wise-cracking charmer and visionary who encouraged his studious friends to found the Ghostbusters, for decades.

During this time Mr. Murray made several highly lauded and deeply thought-provoking films such as Rushmore, Lost In Translation, Monuments Men and St. Vincent. He pushed himself to expand his creative palette and dynamic range since his role in the critically acclaimed film The Razor's Edge, which he insisted on when signing with Columbia Pictures to portray the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters directed by Ivan Reitman.

Famous for being mercurial, selective and difficult to reach at times, Bill Murray took years before agreeing to participate in another Ghostbusters film. After reading a number of treatments and joining the principal cast over dinner he realized the chemistry and script was unique and too good to pass up. The timing was right and Bill Murray returned to the franchise for Ghostbusters II, a blockbuster that followed Dr. Peter Venkman's redemption and reunification with love interest Dana Barrett, portrayed by the talented Sigourney Weaver.

While refusing to commit to a third film in the prime Ghostbusters dimension, Murray continued his relationship with the franchise since Ghostbusters II. 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which might be receiving a reissue on current generation video game systems, allowed you to bust ghosts and participate in an interactive storyline that many fans considered to be a third film as it featured Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray in their most recent portrayal of Spengler, Zeddemore, Stantz and Venkman.

Years after the video game, Bill Murray was a guest on Late Show with David Letterman and recalled how he would walk down the streets of New York singing Ray Parker Jr's famous Ghostbusters theme song. Despite a seemingly renewed interest in the role, a third feature Ghostbusters film starring Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman failed to materialize before the tragic passing of Ghostbusters co-writer and star Harold Ramis in 2014.

While promoting Rock The Kasbah in 2015, Murray blessed the 2016 Ghostbusters film, which was just starting principal photography, and gave a nod to Paul Feig's kind demeanor after meeting him for the first time during the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live.

Murray did participate in Paul Feig's compelling and expansive Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, a breath of fresh air for the franchise that served as an origin story featuring a new group of paranormal eliminators residing in an entirely different dimension.

Many expected Murray to reprise his role as Dr. Peter Venkman, who would pass the torch alongside Stantz and Zeddemore, to a new team of Ghostbusters. Instead, he joined fellow principal Ghostbusters castmates (with the exception of the legendary Rick Moranis) in unrelated cameo roles with Murray portraying skeptic and debunker Dr. Martin Heiss.

While initially met by some with confusion, as Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and its marketing materials did not address the prime Ghostbusters dimension featured in the first two films, it was deemed certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, won multiple Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards and became a hit with fans of all ages. With countless cosplayers, fan art and an incredibly thoughtful fanzine under its belt the Ghostbusters team of Holtzmann, Yates, Gilbert and Tolan were featured in several comic books and eventually crossed into the prime dimension to meet Stantz, Spengler, Zeddemore and Venkman in the outstanding Ghostbusters 101 and Ghostbusters: Crossing Over story arcs by IDW Publishing.

Earlier this year Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a brand new Ghostbusters movie, directed by the talented Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air), that has stirred the fandom with much excitement and anticipation. While little is known about the film, it has been confirmed that it will take place in the prime Ghostbusters dimension and will feature a brand new Ghostbusters team.

Now that the franchise's feature film lineup is comprised of three distinct Ghostbusters teams residing in two dimensions, everyone is wondering who will show up in the new movie which is slated for a 2020 release.

IndieWire recently caught up with Bill Murray, who was promoting his new film, The Dead Don't Die, at the Cannes Film Festival and had this to say about the Ghostbusters franchise.

While sharing his enthusiasm for the upcoming Ghostbusters projects, Bill Murray was cautious to commit to anything specific in terms of role or scope as his connection to the franchise is based on relationships that have been tenuous at times.

On his relationship with Sony and the deal he made to appear in the original Ghostbusters film in 1984.

On choosing to appear in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, directed by Paul Feig, which introduced the first distinct team outside of Venkman, Spengler, Zeddemore and Stantz and the possibility of reprising the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Jason Reitman's untitled Ghostbusters project which will pass the torch to a third team of spectral warriors in 2020.

There is no doubt it would be amazing to see Dr. Peter Venkman grace the silver screen next summer!

In fact, this could be the beginning of a beautiful resurgence as Ghostbusters: The Video Game may be remastered by video game publisher Mad Dog Games. Video game developer Terminal Reality, who was responsible for the original games development, has shared previously unreleased multiplayer level concepts that may require new dialogue.

Sony Pictures Animation, who released the phenomenal Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse last year, has been actively working on a new animated Ghostbusters film for at least a year. While no details have been made available about either of the above projects, Ghostbusters producer and director Ivan Reitman has expressed interest in bringing the prime (Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz) and Answer the Call (Abby Yates, Jillian Holtzmann, Erin Gilbert, Patty Tolan) Ghostbusters dimensions together in a future film.

It will be exciting to see if this topic is addressed during the newly announced Director's Panel at Ghostbusters Fan Fest, featuring Ivan Reitman, Paul Feig and Jason Reitman. This once-in-a-lifetime can't miss event is filled with exclusive screenings, panels, live performances and more. Space is limited, reserve your tickets today!

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