Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman has said he will not direct the forthcoming third installment in the film franchise, following the death of original star Harold Ramis.
Reitman, who directed the first two films, said that the death of his close friend and colleague had influenced his decision.
“A lot of things happened in the last few months, the most significant of which was the passing of Harold, who was a very good friend who was extraordinarily influential in my career. We did five movies together including both Ghostbusters,” he told Deadline.
Instead, Reitman will remain on board as producer and help co-producer Amy Pascal to find a new director to reboot the popular series.
Reitman has been involved in the planned sequel for years, during which time he was part of an unsuccessful campaign to get Bill Murray to reprise his original role as Dr Peter Venkman.
Alluding to talks with the actor, Reitman said that Murray “never actually said no, but he never said yes”. He confirmed that the new film “has the originals in a very minor role”.
Harold Ramis: Career in pictures
Harold Ramis: Career in pictures
1/15 Harold Ramis at the 'Meet the Oscars'
Harold Ramis attends the 'Meet the Oscars' exhibit at The Shops at North Bridge in Chicago, 2010
Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images
2/15 Harold Ramis in 80's
Harold Ramis in Chicago, 1985
3/15 Harold Ramis in Las Vegas
Harold Ramis during ShoWest in Las Vegas, 1995
4/15 Harold Ramis with his family
Harold Ramis and his wife Erica, sons, Julian (L) and Daniel, at the premiere of 'Bedazzled' at the Village Theater in Los Angeles, 2000
5/15 Harold Ramis receives award
American director Harold Ramis smiling and holding his award for Funniest Motion Picture for his film, 'Analyze This,' at the American Comedy Awards at the Shrine Exposition Center, Los Angeles, 2000
6/15 Harold Ramis smiles
Smiling director Harold Ramis, 2002
7/15 Harold Ramis at the Film Festival
Harold Ramis, director during 31st American Film Festival of Deauville - Tribute to Robert Towne and 'The Ice Harvest' Premiere at CID in Deauville, France, 2005
8/15 Harold Ramis at the match
Filmmaker and actor Harold Ramis throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs take on the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field in Chicago, 2006
9/15 Harold Ramis at the NBA game
Harold Ramis at the NBA All-Star Game, 2007
10/15 Harold Ramis at the 'Year One' premiere
Director Harold Ramis attends the premiere of 'Year One' at AMC Lincoln Square in New York, 2009
11/15 Harold Ramis at the 'Year One' premiere
Harold Ramis attends the 'Year One' premiere at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, 2009
12/15 Harold Ramis at the Avenue Magazine Party
Harold Ramis attends the Michigan Avenue Magazine Party at the Wit Hotel to celebrate the movie 'Year One' in Chicago, 2009
13/15 Harold Ramis during panel discussion
Harold Ramis attends a SCTV panel discussion in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Second City at 1616 N. Wells Avenue on December in Chicago, 2009
14/15 Harold Ramis starred in 'Ghostbusters'
Director and actor Harold Ramis was best known for his role in Ghostbusters
15/15 Harold Ramis at the game
Harold Ramis takes in a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz at the United Center in Chicago, 2010
Reitman worked on the script for the third movie alongside Ethan Cohen and Dan Aykroyd.
“We now have a draft that is very good, that the studio is very excited about,” he said.
But Reitman said that he had decided to take a step back after the death of Ramis, who was perhaps best known as the bespectacled science nerd Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters.
“When I came back from Harold’s funeral, it was really moving and it made me think about a lot of things. I’d just finished directing Draft Day, which I’m really happy with and proud of. Working on a film that is smaller and more dramatic was so much fun and satisfying.
“I just finally met with Amy and Doug Belgrad when I got back. I said I’d been thinking about it for weeks, that I’d rather just produce this Ghostbusters. I told them I thought I could help but let’s find a really good director and make it with him.
”So that’s what we’ve agreed will happen. I didn’t want all kinds of speculation about what happened with me, that is the real story.”
Reitman said that Sony have already drawn up a shortlist of possible directors and that after a decision has been made they will begin finding a new cast for the film.
Sony hopes to start filming Ghostbusters 3 in New York in early 2015.