Ghostbusters 2020, a direct sequel to 1984's Ghostbusters and 1989's Ghostbusters II, will "recognize" original franchise star and co-writer Harold Ramis, says producer Dan Aykroyd. Ramis, who died in Feb. 2014 of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, was previously honored in the form of a lingering shot on a bust statue in Paul Feig's 2016 female-led reboot that starred Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. This new film, directed by Jason Reitman, son of original franchise director Ivan Reitman, returns to the continuity where Ramis starred as founding Ghostbuster Egon Spengler alongside Aykroyd's Ray Stantz, Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, and Ernie Hudson's Winston Zeddemore, who Aykroyd confirms will be returning in the new movie.
"I miss him a lot. He was, of course, a really intelligent, great writer and collaborator," Aykroyd said of Ramis on The Greg Hill Show. "We paid tribute to him in the movie that Paul Feig made with the girls, he was there in a bust, and Billy and I showed up to work on that because we had faith on that vision."
Aykroyd continued, "So we paid tribute to Harold there, and of course, we'll recognize him in this film in some way, however small."
This new script, penned by Reitman and Monster House director Gil Kenan, is a "beautiful, heartfelt" script that "takes the real DNA from the first two movies and transfers that directly to the third, the next generation," Aykroyd said, adding GB20 "hands the legacy off to a new generation of stars, and players, and actors, and characters."
Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard and Carrie Coon portray a small town family suspected to be related to Ramis' Egon. However this new film pays tribute to Ramis and Egon, Reitman's Ghostbusters 3 is "gonna be scary, it's gonna be thought-provoking, it's gonna be very heartfelt."
"You'll feel it, if you have loved ones that you miss and that you've lost, and you want to get back with," Aykroyd said. "It'll be very evocative that way."
At Ghostbusters Fan Fest in June, Reitman revealed he recovered original dailies from the first movie to be repurposed in GB20. The exact purpose, Reitman teased, is a spoiler.
"In making this movie, we found something kind of extraordinary. We went to Sony, and we said, 'We'd really love to get back into the original dailies from 1984. Do you still have them?' And we found them," Reitman said. "They were in a mine in Kansas, and we shipped the boxes to Burbank. We've been going through the footage for reasons I cannot tell you, but along the way we found some really cool stuff."
The Juno filmmaker also put together a team of consultants who contributed to his father's Ghostbusters to ensure "that we make the right film."
"Going into making this film, we wanted to make a love letter to the original movie," Reitman said, later teasing the mysterious connection between his characters and those of the original two movies.
Sony Pictures releases Ghostbusters 2020 July 10, 2020.