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Once he decided to make Ghostbusters: Afterlife, writer-director Jason Reitman faced hundreds, if not thousands, of different choices on how to best carry the franchise forward in a way that pleased fans across the board. Wanting to harken back to the 1984 original (helmed by his dad, Ivan Reitman, who also produced this movie), he apparently agonized over every last detail — including the right color for ectoplasmic goop.
"The slime color has changed from film to film, and I wanted the original-color slime," the filmmaker told Empire for the magazine's November 2021 issue. "We kept zeroing in on, 'That's too green. That's not viscous enough.' One day, they had two different vats and there was a huge argument over which one was right. I said, 'Dad, can you come over here?' And my dad just went over and pointed to a bucket and said, 'That's slime.'"
Opening in theaters next month after more than a year of delays, Ghostbusters: Afterlife serves as a direct follow-up to Ghostbusters II, which released back in the summer of 1989. While that first sequel often lives in the shadow of its more successful predecessor, Ivan Reitman still stands by his oft-maligned follow-up.
"I've always argued that the movie was better than the initial reception for it," he said, going on to explain how it came out during a major shift in what moviegoing audiences wanted to see. "I think I was relying on the kind of improvisational thing that I did with these actors before and thought it would be saved by that. And, in retrospect, I think it was, to a large extent. It was the year of [Tim Burton's] Batman and there was a whole different change of tone and attitude in films. This film felt a little quaint in '89. It didn't quite fulfill the needs of the era, but as a movie, it fulfills my needs. I was quite proud of it."
Afterlife picks up all these decades later in a small Oklohoma town where the grandchildren of Egon Spengler, Phoebe and Trevor (played by McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard), discover Ecto-1 and some old ghost-hunting equipment. The screenplay (written by Jason and Gil Kenan) is all about passing the torch on to a younger generation, which means fans will get to see the OG Ghostbusters one last time — save for the late Harold Ramis, to whom the project is dedicated.
"I don't think I was prepared for what it would feel like when the original guys walk on set in their flight suits," Jason continued. "It's like seeing superheroes and it feels very special. It's also very intimidating. And it is an immediate reminder of what we were so presumptuous to attempt, which is to make another film that is a chapter in this larger story. It's one thing to direct all-new characters because at that point, you can almost say that you're making a fan fiction. When Bill [Murray] and Ernie [Hudson] and Dan [Aykroyd] walk in wearing flight suits, it becomes very real, very quickly."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife arrives in theaters everywhere Friday, Nov. 19. Click here to see early reactions to the film.