Sony Wants ‘Ghostbusters III’ Sans Reitman

Ivan ReitmanSource: Variety, Vulture

The movie-loving community was thrilled to find out that Ivan Reitman would return to direct the highly-anticipated Ghostbusters III, but apparently the studio that finances and distributes the film, Columbia Pictures, wasn’t so enthusiastic.

Vulture reports that Sony (parent company of Columbia), while extremely interested in revitalizing the series with a younger crew of paranormal investigators having the torch passed down by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, is at odds with Reitman, whose old contract orchestrated by Mike Ovitz in the early 80s still giveshim exceptional creative control over the series, including director approval.

According to the source, Reitman and all three original principals have a deal that says that if any of the four of them don’t like any element of a new “Ghostbusters,” they can veto and kill the project. Says Vulture, Columbia would love for the actors “to be onboard to pass the torch and cross the streams. Not so with Reitman.” Regardless, the studio can’t fully realize its plan unless Reitman bails – a prospect that they thought might materialize in the wake of a story broke by Variety earlier today.

According to the trade, Reitman has made a deal to direct Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in an untitled romantic comedy for Paramount Pictures (working title: “Friends with Benefits”). The script was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and already has a release date of Jan. 7, 2011. Paramount is producing with Reitman’s Montecito Picture Co., in association with Portman’s shingle handsomecharliefilms and Kutcher’s Katalyst. Cold Spring Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment are co-financing with Paramount.

The logline is being kept under tight wraps, but Variety says the story generally revolves around the ease with which men and women become sexually involved, but have a far more difficult time establishing emotional bonds. Vulture calls it an inverse When Harry Met Sally.

With news of Reitman’s commitment to the Portman/Kutcher film, Sony hoped the problem would be solved. But Vulture says Sony’s hopes will likely be dashed: Insiders told Vulture that Reitman thinks the two comedies are not mutually exclusive, and still plans to direct both.