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Following over a year of COVID-related delays, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is finally playing in theaters across the nation. Directed and co-written by Jason Reitman (the son of original Ghostbusters director, Ivan Reitman), the film serves as a direct follow-up to the first two films, refreshing the 37-year-old property for modern audiences. While appearing at New York Comic Con last month, Jason explained that his goal with Afterlife was "to make a movie that opened the universe to all kinds of stories. I want to see Ghostbusters movies from all of my favorite directors and we hope that this movie sets the table for that."
The film does this by passing Ecto-1, the Proton Packs, and the rest of the Ghostbusters' legacy to a new and younger generation of spirit-hunters led by Egon Spengler's granddaughter and grandson (played by McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard). That's not exactly a spoiler. We've known that was always the master plan for over two years now, especially since the OG cast members are starting to get a little long in the tooth.
However, there was a question of whether or not Afterlife would leave the door open for an entire franchise of sequels and/or a cinematic universe of some kind (as is the current tradition). The answer to that question is yes — the end credits scene does indeed set the table for future installments.
***WARNING! The following contains major plot spoilers for the film!***
Ghostbusters: Afterlife actually has two end credits sequences. The first one features a short cameo from Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett testing the psychic abilities of Bill Murray's Peter Venkman in a nod to the latter's shock-heavy research in the 1984 original. There isn't much to this scene beyond the nostalgia factor and an appearance from Weaver, whose character does not show up for the final confrontation with Gozer at the very end of the film.
The second stinger contains the sequel setup. It opens with a deleted scene from the first movie involving Egon (played by the late Harold Ramis, to whom the movie is dedicated) and Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts). We then flash forward to the present where Janine is meeting with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), who has become a global business mogul.
His recent experience in Oklahoma alongside Peter, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and the benevolent ghost of Egon (a CGI-resurrected Ramis) has reignited his passion for the good old days of trapping rogue spirits. "I may be a businessman, but I will always be a Ghostbuster," he says.
Thanks to his great wealth, Winston is able to buy back Hook & Ladder Company 8, the iconic headquarters of the Ghostbusters (earlier in the movie, Ray explains that the property became a victim of upscale Manhattan development). Ecto-1 is welcomed back into the firehouse garage in a moment of emotional poignancy before the scene cuts to the ghost Containment Unit in the basement where a blinking red light signals oncoming danger.
Does this mean we're in for another mass breakout on the level of "dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!"? Is the nearly 40-year-old Containment Unit starting to break down — again? That does seem to be the case and if we're lucky enough to get a sequel, it looks like it'll return to Manhattan, where Phoebe (Grace) and Trevor (Wolfhard) Spengler can start running the family business with input and sage advice from the seasoned old-timers like Winston, Ray, Peter, Janine, Dana, and maybe even Rick Moranis' Louis Tully.
"The original film was about the Ghostbusters. This movie is about the rest of us," Jason Reitman told SYFY WIRE during the official press junket for Afterlife. "The people who have always wanted to pick up the proton pack. The people who have always wanted to ride in the Ecto-1. And it's about a family trying to discover who they are."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now playing in theaters everywhere.