It's true... Reitman looks like he has been whacked. Variety later reported that the veteran helmer will indeed direct Friends With Benefits, the formerly titled "Fuckbuddies" starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman which films this May. This is the exact same month a second draft of Ghostbusters 3 is expected to arrive at the desk of Columbia from The Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. Columbia want GB 3 out in Summer 2011 and were set to film this year (Sony's only announced 2011 tentpole), and Friends With Benefits (released in Jan 2011) will keep Reitman busy for the rest of 2010 so there's just no way. Either Reitman's done and will be replaced, or the whole project is at best delayed a year or at worst dead completely.There's tell-tale signs of trouble at Columbia over Ghostbusters 3. The first "uh-oh" moment came earlier this month when Bill Murray appeared on Letterman showing very little affection towards the franchise; talking like he was dreading a forthcoming visit to the dentist rather than reprising his most famous film role one more time. But we mostly laughed that off; it's Bill Murray after all, and he never seems to look forward to anything. However, the second charge on the worry meter came last night and it's a biggy... Vulture reported exclusively that Columbia are desperate to boot 63 year-old veteran franchise director Ivan Reitman off the new movie in favour of a younger, more hip and cool director; probably someone who has worked with the Apatow crew like a David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Your Highness) or Gregg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland). Or even his son Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air). Columbia see Ghostbusters 3 as a way of resurrecting a popular series that has lay dormant in a long-suffering coma. They want the original three actors to "pass the torch" to a new generation of young comedians who they can bleed another two or three movies out of this decade. They certainly don't want the new movie to be overly nostalgic or too much about the old guys. They want this to be a promoting of the new guard (think the end of Indiana Jones 4, but much more pronounced throughout the movie) and they look at Reitman's recent CV (My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Evolution) and they truly begin to wonder if he still has any semblance of that cutting-edge touch, or an affinity to speak to the 18-34 age group the film will mostly be aiming at. And shall we not forget, this is the same money-men who forced Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire & Kirsten Dunst off the Spider-Man series well before their sell-by date, so they truly aren't kidding around when it comes to rebooting, and getting fresher talent on board (Marc Webb in that instance) to replace the old guard. Reitman announced in January that he would be directing the new movie and with good right. A contract deal from the 80's gives Reitman and the three stars Murray, Ackroyd & Ramis (sorry Ernie!!); significant creative control over the direction of the series and they can veto any Ghostbusters movie they like at any time if they don't get things their way. Even if it just surmounts to them not liking a runner assistant, they can call the whole thing off. They have final approval on director and it's clear they want the whole gang reunion, however Columbia have been adamant on their desire to whack Reitman. (In truth... they would be quite happy to reboot the whole series WITHOUT any of the original crew, but with the contract deals the foursome have, they went this way hoping to get their blessing after carrying on the series with a reunion picture to sweeten them up). Where things get interesting is that rival studio Paramount Pictures have offered Ivan Reitman a proposed greenlit to his comedy project Friends Like These, a sex-romp starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman (why would she even be interested in this?) about two twenty-something friends whose casual sex with each other leads to feelings & complications, and Columbia are encouraging Reitman to take the gig. It's quite smartly called "an inverse When Harry Met Sally"and comes from a well-received 2008 blacklisted screenplay titled "Fuckbuddies" from Liz Meriwether, a close friend of Juno writer Diablo Cody. So I can for-tell a few things happening now, in order of likelihood.
A) Reitman directs his sex-romp comedy at Paramount and production is delayed on Ghostbusters 3 until at least next Spring where these problems won't have disappeared. B) Reitman directs his sex-romp comedy at Paramount, and the four man council Reitman/Murray/Ackroyd/Ramis say to hell with it, and the Ghostbusters franchise is done once again. C) Reitman directs his sex-romp comedy at Paramount, and by some miracle allows someone else to direct the picture.I should point out that C would seem unlikely without a huge pay deal and creative producer control (i.e: "if by son directs it, then it's fine").