If there's something strange in the neighborhood...
You might have to press 1 for more options. While the original Ghostbusters might not be in the building, this November will bring with it a new cast of characters to answer the calls to (ghost) crime. Complete with cameos from the original cast, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is set to take to the big screen on November 11, after a year of COVID-related delays.
With the release of the first official trailer on July 27, Ghostbusters fans are already falling back into the nostalgia, whims and scares of the 1984 movie. And rightly so: the sequel (or perhaps, threequel, if you count Ghostbusters II as part of the same cannon) features the children and grandchildren of the original characters, some decades later. One of the scenes in the trailer even shows Trevor, played by Finn Wolfhard of the Netflix series Stranger Things, dusting off a proton pack in his grandfather's home.
Evidently, the nostalgia was the intention. Director Jason Reitman, son of the original series director, Ivan Reitman, knew that he needed to center the story around its legacy – whether that be for audience members reliving their childhood delight or actors returning to roles long since put on the shelf. According to this 2020 Vanity Fair article, Reitman's focus is one that takes him back to his own childhood:
“If I think about who I’m making this movie for, it’s my father. We all know what it’s like to be told stories by our parents. I’m really honored to get a chance to tell one back to him from the world he brought to life.”
And indeed, it's a world which remains vitally intact even today. The 1984 release was the highest grossing movie of all time until 1990's Home Alone, and maintains its position as Columbia Pictures' highest grossing comedy (when adjusted for inflation). Upon its release, it championed a number one spot in movie theaters for seven weeks, and went on to amass an entire franchise of video games, board games, comic books, clothing, toys, collectibles, and even haunted attractions. The film has even earned a designation of "culturally significant" in the National Film Registry (as if that all wasn't enough!).
Why, then, did a comedically-inclined, goofy, spoof-filled supernatural drama grip the cultural zeitgeist with such force in the 80s and 90s (and even today)? Most critics attest the success of the original film to its unique blend of genres, expansive special effects and light-hearted nature, but others know it runs deeper than that. The dynamite cast of characters, for one, kept the audience on its toes with constant ad-libbing and unscripted allowances. In fact, almost none of the scenes were filmed as scripted – most had at least one ad-lib. Most of Bill Murray's lines in particular are improvised, including the famous "This chick is toast," as well as one that would recur in later films: "Nice shootin', Tex!"
The Ghostbusters franchise hasn't always found its mark, however. After the disappointing box-office performance of the 1989 sequel Ghostbusters II and the untimely death of writer and star Harold Ramis, creating another edition of this well-loved favorite seemed impossible. What's more: the all-female 2016 Ghostbusters racked in hordes of disapproval from diehard fans and ultimately suffered box-office losses. While some attribute the 2016 flop to a gimmicky, uninspired concept, others have suggested an unfair fixation on female counterparts in a role traditionally dominated by men.
Controversy aside, a new Ghostbusters is coming to theaters, rain or shine. Return to the haunted world of our beloved characters by checking out the official trailer below.