Reitman Gets “Friends”, Loses “Ghostbusters”?

Veteran producer and director Ivan Reitman (“Dave,” “Twins,” “Ghostbusters,” “Stripes”) hit the news twice today regarding his upcoming film schedule.

First up Variety reports he’s set to to direct a romantic comedy, currently under the working title “Friends With Benefits”, at Paramount Pictures starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.

Elizabeth Meriwether’s script deals with the ease of men and women to become physically involved and the far more difficult job of emotional attachments. Filming kicks off in May for release the first week of January.

More interesting though is word from Vulture that claims Sony Pictures is essentially trying to shoehorn Reitman out of being involved in the upcoming third “Ghostbusters” film.

Reitman has previously stated an intent to helm the third “Ghostbusters” while Sony is keen on a younger director to take charge. With Reitman committing to ‘Friends’ they thought they may have won, but Reitman wants to direct both projects.

The big catch in this whole issue is that Reitman’s original deal for the franchise back in the 80’s gives him an enormous amount of creative control over the project – including director and story approval. In fact if the three principal actors (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) don’t approve of the film, they have a veto power which can kill the entire production immediately.

Scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky will turn in their second draft of the film’s script in May, expect to hear more about this around that time.