Sony has released an initial trailer for the forthcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which will be released in 2020. Jason Reitman, the son of original Ghostbusters filmmaker Ivan Reitman, will connect his film to the first two movies, rather than existing in a separate universe like Paul Feig's "Answer the Call" Ghostbusters reboot did. The project was announced earlier this year, and went into development and production almost immediately, riding on intense word of mouth after a brief video glimpse at the famed Ecto-I car from the original franchise. Reitman and the studio have done their best to keep the story itself top secret, with only basic details of who the characters are so far public knowledge.
The story apparently centers on a family, played by genre veterans Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard. The surviving original Ghostbusters -- Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson -- will have an as-yet-undefined role with ties to the family. Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver will also reprise their roles from the original films. Paul Rudd also appears.
Here's the official synopsis: "From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman, comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. The film is written by Jason Reitman & Gil Kenan."
Even those returns seemed like they were originally supposed to be surprise announcements, but of course fan enthusiasm got the better of more or less everyone, and by the time the film was in production, both Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts had talked about their planned returns.
The reunion element seems like a logical progression of the brand -- Paul Feig's film was a full reboot, but still made room for cameo roles of original series actors as new characters, and that didn't fly with hardcore fans -- but coming on the heels of Terminator: Dark Fate, it feels a lot less like a sure thing than it might have back when fans first saw the tarp blowing off that old, repurposed ambulance.
What Reitman has planned this time around is more of a "love letter" to the fans and his father's films, including reports that he will use discarded footage from the earlier films in order to build a more direct bridge to the sequel -- an approach that is also becoming more popular, with films like Cars 3 and Bill & Ted Face the Music using it to provide closure on characters played by actors who passed away between installments of the series. That is almost certainly what is driving Reitman's decision, given that series star Harold Ramis passed away in 2014. Feig's Ghostbusters included a tribute to Ramis in the form of a bust used as set decoration.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is expected in theaters on July 10, 2020.