Every few weeks or so, a rumor about the possibility of a "Ghostbusters 3" coming to pass hits the Internet, only to be slapped down the next day by a second rumor saying Bill Murray is holding out, and the studio won't make the movie without him.
That last part about the studio, Sony Pictures, being unwilling to make "Ghostbusters 3" without Murray is almost certainly true.
Deadline Hollywood cites an unnamed insider as saying, "The studio won't even think about forward on a $150 million film unless Bill has a closed deal and a commitment. It's too huge a risk to do any meaningful prep, hoping he shows up."
Now, Ivan Reitman, director of the previous two "Ghostbusters" films, says a script for a third installment is indeed ready. And Murray has a copy. Reitman is just waiting for Murray to read it.
There's just one problem: Murray doesn't seem like he wants to make a third "Ghostbusters."
Who can blame him? He has moved on. He's become a respected actor. He even snagged a Oscar nomination for 2003's "Lost in Translation." He doesn't need "Ghostbusters 3." Maybe Reitman and Murray's co-star Dan Aykroyd — whose best recent work has been a brand of vodka in a skull-shaped bottle — do need a new "Ghostbusters," but Murray definitely does not.
Or maybe Murray just remembers how bad "Ghostbusters 2" was. To be fair, in the annals of botched sequels, "Ghostbusters 2" is nowhere near the worst. It's no "Highlander 2: The Quickening" or "Jaws 4: The Revenge," but it does tend to elicit a halfhearted "meh" — sort of like "Cannonball Run 2," which did nothing, really, but teach us Shirley MacLaine is a poor substitute for Farrah Fawcett.
Nevertheless, if Internet comment threads mean anything — and they do, but no one is sure what — there are still a lot of fans who want their "Ghostbusters 3" more than Dire Straits wanted their MTV. And they're turning their fury on Bill.
One commenter at Bloody-Disgusting.com writes, "This could make me hate Mr. Murray for the rest of eternity."
At least there was no profanity.
But some fans agree with me, like the one who writes, "The last thing in the world that needs to happen is Ghostbusters going the same ... path of Indiana Jones."
If experience teaches anything, it's that you don't want to go down the path of Indiana Jones, and not just because it's filled with snakes and booby traps. And we have lots of experience with dormant franchises returning with sequels so awful they do nothing but taint our childhood memories.
"Tron: Legacy" was an OK sequel to an OK — but fondly remembered — original. It's the exception.
The "Star Wars" prequels get worse with each viewing because there's always more bad writing, bad directing or bad acting to discover. And watching "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is like looking directly at the Ark of the Covenant without protective glasses.
What are the odds "Ghostbusters 3" will beat the odds?
Here's a hint: Reitman told USA Today he is considering making the movie in 3-D.
A 3-D movie based on a franchise that's nearly 30 years old? "Tron: Legacy" may have used up all the magic pixie dust on that — and "Tron: Legacy" is merely OK.
I may be in the minority, but if I ever find out Murray single-handedly prevented another "Ghostbusters" movie, I'll be thrilled. I might even send him flowers, or at least a nice gift certificate. (Do you think he likes Bed, Bath & Beyond?)
Because if they make "Ghostbusters 3," I will have to see it, just like I saw the "Star Wars" prequels and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
Hollywood never learns. I never learn. Nobody ever learns.