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Will ‘Ghostbusters 3’ happen without Bill Murray?

From left: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd in 'Ghostbusters.'.
From left: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd in 'Ghostbusters.'. Handout

TORONTO – Could Ghostbusters 3 go ahead without co-star Bill Murray? Filmmaker Ivan Reitman says it’s a possibility.

The director-producer of the original 1984 supernatural comedy film and its sequel says Murray — who played one of four parapsychologists in both instalments — hasn’t read any draft of a screenplay for a possible third feature. And he doesn’t think the actor wants to be in it.

“If we get it right for ourselves and we end up trying to make the movie, we’ll see if he does it or not,” Reitman said Wednesday before appearing with son and fellow filmmaker Jason Reitman at a TIFF Bell Lightbox “In Conversation With…” Q&A.

“It could happen without him, or it could happen with him.”

Ghostbusters co-star Dan Aykroyd has also said Murray doesn’t want to be in a possible third film, telling Larry King Now in May: “He just doesn’t want to reprise the role. However, there will be a hole for him. If Billy wants to walk in the door and be in the movie, we will find a place.”

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But the other stumbling block is striking the right tone.

Reitman called Ghostbusters — which also starred Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver and Ernie Hudson — a “remarkable highlight” of his life and his “first really worldwide hit.”

“People seem to love it today as much as they loved it in 1984,” said the Toronto-raised comedy master. “It’s sort of become kind of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ kind of movie from its generation.”

So while the rest of the cast and creators are game for a third film, they’ll only do it if they can tap into the “magic” of the original in a new way, he added.

“We tried to do another one back in the ’90s to mixed success,” said Reitman. “It was successful commercially but it didn’t really satisfy me or any of the other members of our group creatively. We didn’t quite get it right, because it’s a very tricky movie.

“(The original) broke ground in all sorts of ways and we couldn’t create that sort of experience again in the second film, and I think it’s one of the things that’s holding back the third one.”

There’s nothing holding back Reitman from working with his son again, though.

The two collaborated on the 2009 Oscar-nominated Up in the Air (the elder Reitman produced and his son directed), and when asked if he’d like to another film with him, he gave an emphatic “Oh yeah.”

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“He’s creating his own company,” said Reitman. “We work very well together.”

Reitman was also at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Wednesday to help launch the TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy series, which includes Ghostbusters as well as his films Meatballs, Stripes and Kindergarten Cop.

He said he likes re-watching and learning from his earlier directing efforts, noting a screening of Ghostbusters a few months ago at an event helped him understand “why it was kind of special.”

Father’s Day, however, “never worked” for him.

“It was probably my least successful film, and I don’t mean commercially, just creatively successful,” said Reitman of the 1997 comedy starring Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Nastassja Kinski.

“I had all these really talented comedians and I just couldn’t make it work.”

On Thursday, Reitman was to appear at the Lightbox’s 35th anniversary reunion for Animal House, which he co-produced.

The enduring 1978 fraternity comedy directed by John Landis is widely touted as a pioneer of the “gross-out” genre of films, but Reitman said that wasn’t their intention.

“I certainly didn’t think we were creating gross-out comedy,” he said. “I think we were just creating comedy that was in our language, which is a youthful language. It was the baby boom generation hitting their 20s.”

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