Sony Secretly Developed Ghostbusters: Afterlife and 2016 Reboot

Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman reveals he called on Sony Pictures to make his sequel as the studio readied Paul Feig's 2016 reboot. A redo of the 1984 original that starred Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson as the crew of a ghost-busting business, Feig's Ghostbusters teamed Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. But Sony's newly established Ghost Corps studio was quietly developing another extension of the long-dormant Ghostbusters franchise: a decades-later direct sequel to Ivan Reitman's original Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. And it would be his son, Jason, answering the call and taking the reins of the family business.

Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan (Monster House, the Poltergeist reboot) pitched their Ghostbusters 3 to Ghost Corps in 2016, the same year Sony would release the contentious reboot starring an all-female team of Ghostbusters. The original Afterlife pitch ended with Sony promising Reitman could develop the sequel to his dad's duology in secret, according to Insider.  

"I think only three people at Sony knew of its existence," Reitman told Insider of the script. "Each executive had to come by themselves to Ghost Corps and read the script in a room and then leave."

"I really didn't want it out there that we were writing this movie," he said. "Particularly after years of me saying I didn't want to make a Ghostbusters movie."

RELATED: Original Ghostbusters Star Says Sony Made a "Mistake" Rebooting the Franchise in 2016

The Thank You for Smoking and Juno filmmaker famously resisted being the one to step behind the camera for the long-gestating Ghostbusters 3, which saw various deaths and resurrections over 20 years of development hell. ("I thought I was gonna be this indie dude who makes Sundance movies," Reitman said in 2019 after Sony confirmed the new movie.)

Eventually titled Afterlife, Reitman has described the threequel as a "love letter" to the franchise, the fans, and his father, a producer. Afterlife is all about legacy — both behind and in front of the camera — as the family of the late Egon Spengler (Ramis) deals with the secret legacy left behind. 

And it was made possible, in part, by Feig leading the way with his female-led reboot. 

"When Paul made his movie, he kind of broke the doors open," Reitman said. "Suddenly a Ghostbusters film did not have to be about those four original guys in Manhattan. That was a big moment."

Afterlife introduces science whiz Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), her gearhead brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and their single mom Callie (Carrie Coon). When there's something strange in the neighborhood — the sleepy town of Summerville, Oklahoma — Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) is enlisted to help save the world from the earth-shaking supernatural phenomena. 

"I want to see all kinds of Ghostbusters movies," Reitman said of the new movie passing the proton packs to a younger generation (with an assist from the surviving original cast). "I want to see Ghostbusters movies from all my favorite filmmakers, coming from all kinds of different cultures and different countries."

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Reitman added: "Paul really did the hard work so that I could make this movie."

Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens only in theaters on November 19.