Features and Columns

Fund This Film: ‘Ghostbusters II’ Original Vision Fan Restoration

By  · Published on August 24th, 2013

Were you disappointed with Ghostbusters II? Then you might be interested to know that what wound up in theaters was not the original vision for the sequel. And you might also be interested in seeing that original vision finally come to light thanks to a new documentary and restoration project in the works. Both ideas are the ambitious brainchild of director Bradley Bjornstad, who has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100k for the “twofold” effort.

The doc is called Ghostbusters 2 – The Original Vision and it will tell the story of what the movie was supposed to be, before “certain things happened during the production that altered the way the film came together.” Bjornstad plans to get onscreen interviews with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and even Rick Moranis, among others. This will be combined with the still-unseen deleted footage, including scenes with Moranis’s Louis versus Slimer and a character (Louis’s cousin) played by Eugene Levy, as well as storyboards Bjornstad will draw up based on the un-filmed parts of the original script. Also in the documentary will be a look at the process of the restoration project…

That will be called Ghostbusters 2: The Extended Cut and will be just what it sounds like, a restored extended cut that puts those deleted scenes back into the movie. This sounds similar to Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, only less official since it (as of yet) doesn’t involve the supervision of any of the original filmmakers. Bjornstad aims to acquire the deleted scenes and the film’s negatives from Sony, which can’t possibly be easy let alone cheap (and for a studio like Sony, $100k is cheap). Not only that, but he hopes the fan support this campaign should bring about will influence the studio to move ahead on Ghostbusters 3.

It’s really not that crazy, though, to think at least the documentary could happen. Maybe not with Murray or some of the other stars, but we just have to look at the exhaustive work of the new documentary Persistence of Vision (which I’ve mentioned in a past Fund This Film column) for a parallel. That film goes into the story of Richard Williams’ animated feature The Thief and the Cobbler and what it was supposed to be versus what it tragically became after decades of hard work and crippling perfectionism. To bring in another Superman link, Bjornstad’s project also reminds me of a past Fund This Film spotlight, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened, which is a doc about a movie that never saw the light of a projector in any form.

There definitely are some concerns here. Bjornstad doesn’t appear to have done anything other than compile some images and clips already available online, and with a project this costly it’s necessary for a little groundwork to be done ahead of time, both to show that you’re putting in a lot of your own money and to show potential pledgers that you are on your way to delivering a quality production. The following campaign trailer just features Bjornstad talking on a webcam in the dark, rather quietly as if he’s trying not to wake up his mom in the next room.* At the same time, I really want to see these two projects achieved, so I wish him all the best and await further updates. For now, we can peruse a lot of rarities at the fan site Spook Central.

* He actually changed the campaign video around the time this post was published.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.