I think Bill owed Dan, Harold and Ivan to not string them along for years. Either say “Yes” or say “No”. But read the bloody script. Every interview it was “umm, I don’t know, maybe, who knows”. If Bill had a sliver of loyalty I think he should’ve said yes. Knowing what it meant for his “friends”, the fans. If Bill had done nothing but serious art projects and indie movies I think I could understand. But Osmosis Jones? Charlie’s Angels? Not 1 but 2 Garfield movies?? He said “Yes” to those movies.
This one's a little complicated. He does show up for his friends. The first two movies you named were both examples of that. Because he loved making Kingpin
, he will do favors for the Farrellys, who produced and co-directed Osmosis Jones
(he would later have a cameo that I bet many missed (because he never takes off the mask) in Dumb and Dumber To
as a meth manufacturer who has taken up residence in Harry and Lloyd's apartment). Charlie's Angels
was a favor to his old friend Mitch Glazer, who wrote the original draft of Scrooged
and polished CA
(a collaboration that lead to the legendary Road House
story published in AV Club, where Kelly Lynch, Glazer's wife and Bill's CA
co-star, says Murray and his brothers call her whenever the Road House
sex scene is on television). As for Garfield
, his "Coen Brothers" story could just as easily be BS as it could be the truth.
So, while these are not necessarily examples of Murray doing commercial work purely because it interested him, they are reinforcement that he held long grudges, and that he withheld this kind of friendship from Harold (although, on the other hand, I would point out that even if Murray didn't want to work with Harold, I don't think Harold would've been as invested in Ghostbusters 3
as Dan was, given the series is really Dan's baby).
I personally don't think actors should ever take on work "for the fans." They should endeavor as much as is reasonable to be friendly to fans in person (assuming those fans show them the same courtesy), but I hate the idea that fans were "owed" a Ghostbusters 3
. I think Afterlife
looks good, and I wasn't nearly as confident in any Ghostbusters 3
concept before this one. I always felt something was going to happen, whether that was a reboot (check) or a sequel (also check), and it seems as if I'm going to enjoy both of them, so I'm perfectly happy with how things turned out.
Bill DID read the GB3 scripts, there is an interview where he talks about them.
He defined one script "too crazy to comprehend" (I guess it was Hellbent) and the other "interesting but not well executed" (I guess the 2008-2014 drafts).
Now that Jason has come along I feel that we dodged a big one with not having GB3 in the past years. I mean, go search for the leaked Sony's emails and read the plot bits of Ghostbusters Alive Again and you'll understand what I mean.
While I'm not disputing that he read some of them, two came up that he claimed not to have read. In the same GQ profile where he says he took Garfield
because he thought it was Joel and Ethan Coen, he said he never read the Stupnitsky/Eisenberg draft because he saw Year One
. A few years later, before Harold's death, maybe 2012 or 2013, he appeared on Howard Stern's show and said that a draft (presumably an Etan Cohen Alive Again
script) was on his desk but he was hemming and hawing about picking it up (in this story, he might've ended up reading it later).
Honestly though I blame Sony for the hold up.
They knew the fanbase was there otherwise they wouldn't have been pushing out the merchandise. Ghostbusters popularity was coming back.
ATC shouldn't have been made before Afterlife
That's not how things played out. I don't blame Bill entirely, just shitty management.
The main reason (as has been mentioned) that they didn't sequelize or reboot Ghostbusters
sooner than 2016 was the deal put in place when they made Ghostbusters II
, stating that Ivan had to be offered the chance to direct, and Ivan, Bill, Dan, and Harold all had to approve the production even if they weren't going to be involved. This was a pretty ironclad gridlock, because Murray never loved any of the scripts. Then, in 2014, Harold passed away, Reitman gave up his chance to direct, and Reitman also managed to convince Murray to give up his stake in this agreement. Reitman got Ghost Corps out of the deal, where he and Dan now guide the franchise alone, without needing Murray's stamp.
There's absolutely no question whatsoever that Sony would've liked this contract dismantled during the long wait as much as you did. They had a very valuable IP that was generating merch money year after year and they couldn't capitalize because Murray made himself so unavailable -- this was what the leak email that many misinterpreted was about, saying Sony would have to take legal action against Murray if he didn't respond about Ghostbusters
. They were trying to dissolve the contract.