The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller almost answered the call for Ghostbusters — and they might have phoned Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt to star. In a new interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse producers confirmed rumors from 2014 that they developed a new version of the supernatural comedy franchise for Sony Pictures and producer Ivan Reitman, director of 1984's Ghostbusters and 1989's Ghostbusters II. Though they're reluctant to share details on their never-made Ghostbusters, which eventually found new life with Jason Reitman's legacy sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Lord and Miller say it would have been "fun":
"I don't know what we can or should say, but we can say we had a friend who had an idea for a Ghostbusters thing that was great and we developed it for a little bit with Ivan," Lord said on Happy Sad Confused. "Then we put it to the side for a bit and I don't know if it will ever come back, but it was fun."
After Sony brought the original Ghostbusters continuity back from the dead in the Reitman-produced Afterlife, a 30-years-later direct sequel to the '80s originals, might the studio revisit Lord and Miller's Ghostbusters?
"My understanding is that where Jason and Ivan are heading is, first things first, 'protect the mothership,'" Lord said of the 1984 classic. "[Ours] was a little more sideways of that."
Lord and Miller appear to be alluding to the Ghostbusters pitch made by their 21 and 22 Jump Street star Tatum, who in an email to then-Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal revealed he wanted to star in a new Ghostbusters akin to Christopher Nolan reboot Batman Begins.
"Let us show the world The DarkSide and let us fight it with all the glory and epicness of a HUGE BATMAN BEGINS MOVIE. I know we can make this a huge franchise," Tatum wrote in the email released during the 2014 Sony hack. "Fun adventure craziness. COME OONNNN!!!"
In an email from Hannah Minghella, then the Columbia Pictures co-president of production, the Sony executive detailed Tatum's plan to star opposite Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy) in a take on Ghostbusters to "create a whole new mythology that would support multiple movies (the way that Nolan reinvented Batman)."
Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors of Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier who would go on to helm Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, were to produce the new Ghostbusters Minghella described as "simultaneously super scary" and "also super funny."
Tatum and Pratt would have played "mortal heroes who are believers in the paranormal and the only people who can defend mankind from a paranormal threat," according to the 2014 email, which points out Sony was in "mid-negotiations" with Paul Feig to direct a female-led reboot of Ghostbusters that would ultimately release in summer 2016.
Minghella noted Joe Russo was "open to the idea that both movies could be developed in partnership so they complement one another within the same Ghostbusters universe," adding her belief it was "possible for the female version to co-exist with this other version so maybe they're not mutually exclusive."
With Reitman and Dan Aykroyd set to produce via Ghost Corps, the banner behind Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the studio began developing the "male-driven, action-centric" Ghostbusters in 2015. The project did not materialize and Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, would ultimately side-step the rebooted Ghostbusters 2016 with a return to the original continuity in his legacy sequel released in November 2021.