Ghostbusters: Afterlife Needed The Blessing Of One Key Person Behind The Scenes

It's hard to do reboots well. It's even harder to successfully reboot a classic. "Ghostbusters: Answer the Call" is a perfect example of a failed reboot, even if it does have its passionate fans. Although the movie was based on a beloved classic, fans just didn't take to it and that was obvious at the box office. The reboot had a budget of $144 million and only grossed $128 million domestically. So when "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" was announced, fans had every right to be skeptical, but it would prove to be a mostly welcomed addition to the classic franchise.

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is also a sequel to "Ghostbusters II," even if most of the nostalgia is focused on the original movie, taking place 30 years after the last time the Ghostbusters saved the world. The story focuses on the lives of Egon's daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon), and her two children Pheobe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). After Egon's death, Callie learns her estranged father (the late Harold Ramis) left her a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, which she moves her family into after being evicted. Believing her father abandoned her, Callie never revealed his identity to her children, but Phoebe, who inherited her grandfather's intelligence and love of science, quickly discovers his ghostbusting past. When strange things begin to happen around town, Phoebe arms herself with a proton pack and a modified ghost trap and honors her grandfather's legacy by attempting a little ghostbusting of her own.

Like Pheobe, co-writer/director Jason Reitman wanted to honor his father's legacy, and that included getting the blessing of one key person with ties to "Ghostbusters" history. But beware of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" spoilers that follow!

'Are you the gatekeeper?'

Jason Reitman is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," and Violet Ramis Stiel is the daughter of Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the first two films with Dan Aykroyd and portrayed Egon. Ramis passed away in 2014 and Reitman wanted to honor his contribution to the films. Ozzy Inguanzo's book, "Ghostbusters: Afterlife: The Art and Making of the Movie," discussed the director's intentions of including the late actor in his film and how he included the Ramis family in the process.

Reitman's film focuses on Egon's family, so it made sense to somehow include the late Harold Ramis. Having some history with the family, it was important to Reitman that he get their permission to do so:

"Violet and I met on the set of Ghostbusters when we were little kids. It was very important to me that Harold's family understand why I wanted to tell this story, and that I was doing this out of love and out of respect."

Ramis Steil recalls reading an early version of Reitman's script and her reaction to it:

"I went to Jason's hotel. I sat in the lounge and just read. He had bought a printer from Best Buy to try to avoid any potential leaks, and I sat in the lounge and just read. It was an early version, and it naturally and beautifully, but also spectacularly, was able to capture the spirit of what the old movies are, and the new directions they wanted to launch it out into. It meant a lot that he wanted my opinion. It was important to him that my family and I felt good about what they were doing, and we did."

Reitman received the blessing of Ramis Steil and her siblings to move forward with his idea.

Egon returns

Thanks to modern special effects, actors can appear on-screen after their passing with the assistance of CGI. Reitman wanted to use this technology to bring Egon back for a proper farewell.

Reitman kept the Ramis family involved throughout production and allowed them to visit the set and see some of the production processes, including showing Ramis Stiel early versions of a CGI rendering of Egon. She recalled the experience in her interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

"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."

This was a tear-jerking moment for anyone who grew up with the original Ghostbusters, so I can only imagine what that moment must have been like for Ramis' daughter.

Ramis Stiel was able to privately screen the film in New York months before it was released to the public, and even though she was involved throughout its creation, seeing the completed film was still a very moving experience for her. She appreciated that while the sequel kept the comedic roots planted back in the '80s, the movie is really "about loss and grief."

You feel the hurt and pain of Egon's absence throughout the film, but also the love and respect Reitman felt for the character and the man who created him. 

After Afterlife

When the movie was released in October of 2021, it earned $197 million at the box office, which isn't bad for a sequel to an almost forty-year-old classic. It doesn't quite live up to the original, but I think it holds its own as a new chapter of the franchise. There are references galore (for better or for worse) for us older folks who grew up with the originals and a charming Spielberg-esque adventure for the next generation. Knowing the attention and thoughtfulness that Reitman put into the movie makes for a sweet and fun ride down memory lane.

And the ride isn't over yet.

Sony recently confirmed plans for a follow-up to "Ghostbuster: Afterlife" at CinemaCon. Whether Reitman will be a part of it is unclear, but an interview he did with The Wrap back in November may hold a clue. When asked about returning for more "Ghostbusters" films, he expressed interest in seeing a new perspective on the classic: 

"You just got my version of a Ghostbusters film. The original two are the voice of Harold [Ramis] and my father [Ivan Reitman]. The third film is the voice of Paul Feig and those brilliant actresses. This is one in my voice. I really want to see 'Ghostbusters' films from other voices. There are so many gifted directors out there, and if I'm excited about it I have to imagine other people are excited about that possibility."

If the next director handles the franchise with the love and care that Reitman has, I'll be excited to see what they do with it.