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Writer-director Jason Reitman agonized over every last detail in Ghostbusters: Afterlife — from the color of ectoplasmic slime to that shocking cameo in the movie's final moments. You know the one we're talking about...Oh, you don't? In that case, you probably haven't seen the film yet, which means you should stop reading this article pronto.
Save the tab, though, head to your local movie theater, enjoy a showing of Afterlife, and come back once all the credits have rolled.
***WARNING! The following contains major spoilers for the film!***
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the eldest daughter of the late Harold Ramis — Violet Ramis Stiel — talked about how Reitman brought Egon Spengler back for one last Ghostbusters adventure. Depicted as an eccentric recluse, Spengler is killed off by Gozer at the beginning of the story. However, his spiritual presence lingers, offering guidance and support to his daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon) and two grandchildren: Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard).
“He was so careful to get it right, to really honor the early films and everyone who was in them, but also to make something for now and the future,” Stiel said of Jason (the son of original Ghostbusters director, Ivan Reitman). “Maybe he is the only person who could do that. He is the physical bridge.”
Old man Egon shows up in the final confrontation with Gozer as a shimmering CGI ghost, crossing the Proton Pack streams alongside his old co-workers: Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz Dan Ackoyd), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).
Stiel was, of course, consulted every step of the way, so that this final tribute to her father would feel authentic and respectful. One thing she really appreciated about Afterlife's depiction of Egon was that it was based on the character depicted in the first two movies (just looking a little more wizened) and not on the way Ramis actually looked just prior to his death in 2014.
“It was so generous of him to let me feel as though I was a part of the making of the movie, even though I wasn’t," his daughter added. "I saw some drafts [of Egon] along the way. It was so satisfying. They could have done him as this jolly Santa-type, but that wouldn’t have been true to the character. He was in great shape, nice and trim. My dad would have loved that."
Moreover, she enjoyed how the cameo ends up underscoring the project's overarching themes of "loss and grief."
"It is just a movie. And it is not actually him. It is a character," Stiel continued. "Jason, smartly, focused on capturing the Egon character and not necessarily my dad. I feel like it really worked in that way. Ultimately, it leaves us with that feeling: The people we love are always with us. They don’t go away."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film opened this past weekend to $44 million at the North American box office (about $2 million less than the all-female reboot in 2016). It trapped an additional $16 million internationally for a global bow of $60 million. Not too shabby, considering the project only cost Sony Pictures around $75 million to produce (not to mention the ongoing pandemic).
"Audiences made the call and Ghostbusters: Afterlife affirmatively answered the question as to whether the franchise still has enough audience appeal to generate sufficient box office revenue to justify the continuation of the brand," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, told SYFY WIRE. "This week, as three wide release newcomers enter the box office derby, the Ghostbusters brand equity will be put to the test and as a bonus, the extended Thanksgiving moviegoing frame should provide a nice second weekend boost for the film as families may see Afterlife as the perfect movie to cap off their holiday festivities."