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‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Director Jason Reitman Talks Future of Franchise, Reveals Suprise Screening at NYCC

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 10/9/2021 Abbey White

Jason Reitman opened the door to future Ghostbusters movies during the Ghostbusters: Afterlife panel and surprise screening on Friday at New York Comic Con.

“We wanted to make a movie that opened the universe to all kinds of stories,” the director and co-writer said when asked about where the beloved and long-running franchise goes after its latest chapter. “I want to see Ghostbusters movies from all of my favorite directors and I hope this movie sets the table for them.”

Jason was joined at the panel by his father, original Ghostbusters director and Afterlife producer Ivan Reitman, Afterlife co-writer Gil Kenan and stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Celeste O’Conner, Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim.

During the panel, the cast spent time detailing who their characters were and their casting process, with several noting how they were unaware of what they were auditioning for when they sent in tapes.

“I didn’t think I was going to be cast because I was already in Stranger Things,” said Wolfhard. “I had worn the [Ghostbusters] costume in an episode and I thought maybe that would rub Jason the wrong way but I just immediately said yes.”

The cast also celebrated Jason’s dedication to building detailed sets and avoiding green screen, with Wolfhard confirming that when it comes to effects “a lot of it is practical,” including puppets and animatronics, like the original. “It would have been easy to do green screen, but for an actor this is a dream,” Coon added.

“Jason went with the crew in the winter before we shot, figured out a plot of land and planted a real field and we ripped through it,” Wolfhard said of a notable scene of his character Trevor, which is featured in the movie’s trailer.

Jason and Ivan also both discussed their on-set working relationship, with the director and co-writer joking about having his father over his shoulder constantly. “Our directors’ chairs were closer than they are right now. They were literally touching and that was wonderful most of the time,” he said. “But I want you to imagine your parents came with you to work and weighed in on all the decisions you made and if you disagreed, whatever you were about to say to them, it would begin with the one word you cannot say on set: ‘Dad!'”

Turning serious and sentimental, Jason acknowledged that they “didn’t fight a lot” and Ivan noted that their few back and forths were the result of them both being passionate about the movie. “We just tried to find the way to control the passion so the best things happened,” Ivan said.

“If we’re going to be sincere the whole reason we’re sitting here tonight is because of the man sitting to my left,” Jason said.

Later in the question and answer portion, the cast and creative team commented on the experience of promoting a pandemic-delayed film, with much of the younger cast noting how much their fellow castmates had physically changed. Jason also addressed the decision to keep Afterlife a theatrical-only release, telling the audience that releasing the movie in theaters “means everything to me.”

“I love streaming as much as anybody else, it certainly got me through the pandemic. But I love movies, we wanted to make a movie that would be enjoyed like this with an incredible audience, popcorn and great sound,” he said. “We wanted to make a movie that could be enjoyed like this. The way you experienced the movie in ’84.” 

At the end of the panel, fans were also treated to a surprise screening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. “My father and I think you’ve waited long enough,” Jason told the crowd before introducing the film.

“I want to thank you all for hanging in for 40 years,” Ivan followed-up.

Described as the “next chapter” in the original Ghostbusters universe, Afterlife is set 30 years after the events of the second film and features Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts all reprising their roles from the original films. The story, however, follows Coon’s single mother, Callie, and her two children — Phoebe (Grace) and Trevor (Wolfhard) after they move to a small town in Oklahoma and begin to discover a connection to the original Ghostbusters, including a hidden legacy left by the two children’s grandfather.

Originally slated to release in July 2020, the film was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, shifting to March 2021 and then again three months later to June before landing its current release date. The movie will open exclusively in theaters on Nov. 19, 2021.


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