Basically in late 2013 Ivan Reitman sent Sony the latest draft of GHOSTBUSTERS: ALIVE AGAIN. Reitman had Jonah Hill interested, and was trying to court others like Bri Larson, Zach Galifianakis, Charlie Day, Jesse Eisenberg, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rebel Wilson, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, etc etc. The initial response was "well it's the best version so far", but overall luke warm, then within a few emails the Sony people start taking apart the script amongst each other, with Reitman popping in once or twice eager to get feedback.
The script is not available, as far as I can tell, so I have no idea if it was good or not, but Jonah Hill apparently passed on it before Christmas without Reitman even knowing, and Hill appeared to be Reitman's sure thing. The details on the script are sparse, I just know that Ray and Egon (or Egan as someone refers to him, surly a typo but I LOLed when I saw it) are dead and now ghosts, though it is not clear if they died before or after the movie starts. There is a girl buster or two, and seems to contain your typical romantic comedy vibe between a couple of them, which the executives agreed seemed out of place or forced.
As an interesting note, Lizzy Caplan very much wanted to be in the movie. Her agent contacts Sony a couple of times to let this be known.
Into the new year, 2014, Sony wants Reitman out as director. They want to encourage him to take a position as producer as they think he will have less power, though it is clear that if they could have it their way they would just fire him completely. They refer to him as old and dated.
On February 22nd they discuss how they need to convince him to step down without upsetting him, as he has the right to block the film from being made and if he feels slighted he can do so at any point.. Harold Ramis dies two days later.
It is unclear if Sony approached Reitman about stepping down, or if Reitman came to this decision on his own, though based on the desires of Sony and Reitman's eventual departure, I am going to assuming they, and the death of Ramis, wore him down. I think the phrase "Ivan done" in a March 7th email implies they talked to him and he conceded. It at the very least makes it clear they knew he was stepping down, and they start scrambling to make a short list for who they want to approach for director. Sony people even wrote some of Reitman's departure press release. The following day Reitman gets wind that Sony has already started contacting other directors to take his place. He thinks this is disrespectful because he had just gone public with his departure, and he was grooming Chris Miller & Phil Lord for the position.
At this point a few directors write in to ask for the job. Most notably would be Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer. Sony seems to think Fleischer can do it, but are still gunning for Chris Miller & Phil Lord. Jake Kasden asks for a sit down, as does Todd Phillips. They also debate if they want to bring up the idea of directing to Brad Bird, but seem to opt out of that idea. Additionally, Nick Stoller, Jared Hess, Michael Dowse, and Craig Gillespie show interest. A CCA agent suggests they look into Jason Bateman, and Seth Rogan throws out the idea of contacting Gore Verbinski. Ruben Fleischer still ain't afraid of no ghosts, and they even considered approaching Max Landis in regards to his treatment that was posted online. They also considered doing a hard R-rated Ghostbusters with Rogan and co., though it would appear their Untitled Christmas movie was preventing them from committing.
Though Feig's name was on the March 7th short list, he was interested in an all-female superhero movie codenamed "Glass Ceiling", which may have actually been a female version of Spiderman. Feig started shooting Spy with Melissa McCarthy around this time and was unavailable to commit to any project. It wasn't until Feig was on his way to Comicon in July 2014 that he asked to read the old GB script. Feig already has his own take on it, and wants to write and direct, and hopefully cast Melissa McCarthy, Emma Stone, Kristen Wiig, and Amy Schemer. Sony seems pretty excited, even wanting to run down to SDCC to speak with him that night. A couple of weeks later Reitman agrees to bring on Feig.
Someone leaks the news of the Feig talks and Sony isn't too happy about it. Feig comments on the backlash.
There is a bit of a back and forth between Sony, Reitman, and Feig about Feig's payment and credit. Reitman does not want Feig to have a producer’s credit as it would interfere with his, and he is also upset that Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky were blocked out of the writing room, given the work they have done on the script thus far. Sony is worried that it will get back to Reitman that they initially told Feig they were willing to give him Reitman's producing position. Feig makes it clear that if he is signed on, he does not want Reitman around.
Though nothing but hearsay and conjecture, it is said that Dan Aykroyd is not mad about the direction the studio is taking, and thinks it might be "fun", but a later email confirms he was initially upset, but willing to embraced the new direction.
In late August 2014, things start to get interesting. It is unclear exactly how this came about, or what fueled them to contact Sony, but Joe Russo and Channing Tatum let it be known that they want to develop their own Ghostbusters for Tatum and Chris Pratt. Russo wants the Feig film to live under the umbrella of theirs, creating the expanded universe, and is opened to having Feig direct both films. Sony is excited by this news, and while there is some worry that expanding the universe will interfere with Feig's plans, they consider Feig a director for hire and are not terribly concerned about upsetting him. Despite appearing that they want the Tatum/Pratt film more than the Feig version, they worry that it may be too late as they are "very far down the road with Feig and it would be quite uncomfortable for us to try to slow things down to let them get ahead.", but they confirm they want the Feig version to be under the umbrella of the Tatum universe.
In September the living GBs got together for a reunion photo, and Amy Pascal was present. She had Feig send her a quick write up of his vision to pitch to the boys, which is about an executed inmate becoming a powerful ghost after lightning strikes the electric chair. The majority of the film will be the origin story, with the official formation of the Ghostbusters not taking place until the end of the film. The Ghostbusters will be under the umbrella of the government, and a secret organization.
Not long after, Reitman starts having second thoughts on Feig's vision, most notably the reboot aspect. He wants the film to acknowledge the originals, to exist in the same universe. Pascal does not seem interested in this, though producer Michael De Luca thinks linking the film's to the originals makes more sense under the expanded universe.
In October 2014, Ryan Gosling approaches Sony to say he wants to be in Ghostbusters. Sony seems pretty thrilled by the idea, and forwards it to Feig, who has been in talks with Gosling himself. There is some talk about having Gosling star opposite of Emma Stone, a reunion of sorts. Stone wants to do it, and she is everyone's, including Feig's, first choice for lead. It is not clear why this did not work out.
Reitman becomes increasingly concerned over the use of the word "reboot". Feig is to announce his version later that day, and Reitman wants to block the use of the word "reboot" from the official announcement. He also feels like he is being cast as an antagonist to Feig, which he does not appreciate. To calm him, Pascal suggests Reitman head a branding company to act as a hub for everything Ghostbusters related. Presumably this becomes Ghost Crops. Despite Reitman’s efforts, it is too late to stop the announcement, and Feig tweets about the Ghostbusters reboot later that day. Reitman is pissed, and Pascal tries to blame the wording on the media.
Pascal convinces Reitman that she is having a meeting with Feig about presumably turning the direction of the film away from a reboot, but it appears the meeting is to hear out what Feig and the rest of the crew want to do without Reitman being there to interrupt.
Towards the end of October, Feig, Pascal, and Reitman have had a sit down meeting and Reitman has conceded to Feig's vision. Reitman has agreed that he will offer his advice, but they do not have to listen to anything he suggests, nor will he stand in their way.
By mid-November, Reitman appears to have had a change of heart, and the producers and Sony people scramble to get a meeting with him ASAP. Presumably they are trying to work out a deal with Ivan involving Ghost Corps.
Screenwriter Drew Pearce had been signed onto Sony as part of what I interpret to be a blind script deal (note on that below), and apparently due to Russo’s eagerness to get Tatum busters going, Pearce has already fleshed out a story. Russo says it is awesome, but within the hour Pascal has expressed worry about Feig finding out, and upset they are moving so quickly. The studio and producers agree to slow it down a bit until they are further in it with Feig, presumably until he is too far into it to back out.
So I am not super hip on Hollywood lingo, but as far as I can tell, a blind script deal is just when someone is hired by a studio to write a script, but neither party knows exactly what that script is just yet. Maybe the studio is worried that since they’ve hired Pearce, should Feig find out he could see it as Sony hiring a new scriptwriter, whereas the rest of the Tatum/Russo thing comes off more as Sony being solicited by them. But that interpretation is thrown off a little with the context of a future email, where Pearce is uncomfortable with a blind as he is close with Ghostbusters script writer Katie Dippold (in this context I am having trouble understanding the relevance of a blind as I’ve defined above). Additionally, Russo wants to know what will happen should Feig reject the idea of an expanded universe. Producer Doug Belgrad lays it out to Pascal; It’s not Feig’s decision. Pascal, still panicked, tells them to shut it down.
There are some random emails scattered about that for whatever reason do not always pop up in the search, or in chronological order. The last one, for example, I only found by searching for "Reitman", even though it contains the word "Ghostbusters" in it. So there may be more to find, and often times they just use "GB", but I'll leave that search to someone else for now.