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Something strange is coming to your nigherborhood. It's called Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct cinematic follow-up to the 1984 classic that dared to ask the biggest question of them all: "Are you a god?" Seriously, though, the film (helmed and co-written by Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director, Ivan Reitman) is finally ready to make its way into theaters around the country following several pandemic delays.
With so many postponements, we thought it might be helpful to give Ecto-1 an oil change, brush the accumulated dust off our Proton Packs, and provide you with a quick refresher on all the important things you need to know about the upcoming film. Oh, and for future reference, if someone asks if you're a god...YOU SAY "YES!"
When is it out?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will begin to haunt the big screen on Friday, Nov. 19 — more than a year after its original planned theatrical release of summer 2020. The long-awaited movie was kicked down the release schedule as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut theaters down around the world beginning in March of 2020. With no feasible way to actually sell tickets in the midst of a global health crisis where most customers were sheltering in place, Sony Pictures made the tough decision of postponing Afterlife (along with Daniel Espinosa's Morbius) to March 2021.
When it became clear that theaters would not be fully healed in the first half of the new year, Sony pushed the film yet again to summer 2021 before delaying it to Nov. 11 of this year. In early September, Afterlife was pushed off by eight days to Friday, Nov. 19 (to capitalize on the Thanksgiving box office crowd) once Paramount moved Top Gun: Maverick to Memorial Day 2022.
Where you can watch it
Sony remains committed to an old school theatrical window and as such, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will only be available to watch in theaters.
"I don't think we'll be in the day-and-date release business," studio CEO Tony Vinciquerra said last December. "I think the economic model for very big budget movies require the windows that are in the flow now and will continue with that. I think every film released will have an individual negotiation with the exhibitors, but look, we think a 30-day window is probably the best. It'll allow us to advertise our marketing over the two windows, theatrical and home entertainment. So we think that's the way to go."
A crowd of lucky fans got to check out the movie earlier this month when the project held its world premiere at New York Comic Con (SYFY WIRE was in the audience, but you won't be getting any spoilers out of us!).
"Man, it's been a while since we started making this film, and you all are the most patient fans on Earth. But frankly, my father and I think you've waited long enough," said Jason Reitman during the discussion that preceded the exclusive screening.
Tickets are now on sale.
Crafting a sequel to a classic
Ghostbusters: Afterlife serves as a direct follow-up to the 1984 original (which was directed by Jason's dad, Ivan Reitman, who produced this movie). The story centers around the daughter (Carrie Coon) and two grandchildren (McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) of the late Egon Spengler, eccentric inventor behind the Proton Packs and ghost containment units.
Spengler was played onscreen by Harold Ramis, who sadly passed away in 2014 at the age of 69. Since a full reunion with the busting squad was now impossible, Jason Reitman and his co-screenwriter, Gil Kenan (Monster House), wrote a story that would hand off the franchise legacy to a new and younger generation of heroes.
"There was a moment where I just saw this girl in my head. She was 12-years-old, she was picking up a Proton Pack in the middle of a field and I didn't know who she was," Reitman said at NYCC. "And then I saw this teenage guy and he's in Ecto-1 and he's drifting through wheat fields, and I didn't know who he was. When Harold Ramis passed away, I suddenly knew who they were. They were the Spenglers and I knew I needed to tell their story."
"Ghostbusters was the first Hollywood movie that I saw when I moved to the States and it was a transformative experience," added Kenan. "It hooked me into the power of cinema [and] what it could do when it was firing on all cylinders. The tone of it, the magic, the scares — all of it hooked me in and so, for it was just pure passion as a fan. I've been lucky enough to be friends with Jason for a long time ... We were immediately thrilled by how organically the conversation and story and characters started to come together. Before we knew it, there was a world and that journey has led us directly to this night."
The plot kicks into high gear when the Spenglers move to middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma, where Egon left them a dilapidated old farmhouse. Turns out the place carries more surprises than just rotting floorboards and cobwebs. It's a ghost hunters paradise, chock full of top-of-the-line equipment the world hasn't seen for close to four decades. And they're gonna need it because there's something very spooky going on in this seemingly idyllic slice of Americana. All we know is that something is bringing back the Terror Dogs and a new breed of Stay Puft Marshmallow Men (now bite-sized gremlins of chaos).
Along for the ride are a number of locals: summer school teacher/seismologist Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), supernatural podcast host Podcast (Logan Kim), and local drive-in waitress/daughter of the town sheriff Lucky (Celeste O'Connor).
Of course, fans will also get to see the original crew one last time, but don't expect us to give up any spoilers on how they fit into the story. All we can say is that Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Ackroyd (Ray Stantz), Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), and Sigourney Weaver (Dana Barrett) do make appearances.
You may want to bring some tissues along to your screening because a finished cut of the movie was enough to reduce Ivan Reitman to tears.
“My father hasn’t been leaving the house much because of COVID,” Jason recalled earlier this year. “But he took a test, put on a mask and drove down to the Sony lot to watch the movie with the studio. And after, he cried, and he said, ‘I’m so proud to be your father.’ And it was one of the great moments of my life.”
Is there life after Afterlife?
Will there be a sequel to the sequel? It's too early to tell — what with no box office numbers yet — but Reitman does hope that the film opens the spiritual floodgates for more adventures in this beloved universe.
"We wanted to make a movie that opened the universe to all kinds of stories," the filmmaker said at NYCC. "I want to see Ghostbusters movies from all of my favorite directors and we hope that this movie sets the table for that.”
Ghostbusters: Afterlife currently holds a fresh 78 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The site's critical consensus reads: "Ghostbusters: Afterlife crosses the streams between franchise revival and exercise in nostalgia — and this time around, the bustin' mostly feels good."