Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan are letting a few details out of the ghost trap about their upcoming next entry in the live-action supernatural comedy franchise. The duo is also spilling on the plethora of content coming fans’ way via two films, an animated Netflix TV series, video games, and a Dark Horse comic series.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter prior to the official Ghostbusters Day event Wednesday on the Sony Pictures lot, the duo behind last year’s beloved third (canon) chapter of the franchise, created by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, say the next film has an official code name: “Firehouse.”
“At the end of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the Ecto-1 is driving into Manhattan, returning to its home. And before anyone ever heard the title Afterlife, we called it Rust City. Which would not have made sense to anyone until they saw the movie. The code name for the next movie is ‘Firehouse,’” Reitman tells THR. The reference, of course, is the Ghostbusters’ headquarters in the two ’80s films.
“We’re writing as quickly as we can,” Kenan notes, adding, “We had the story before we finished Afterlife. And we have been crafting this with as much care as it took to build Afterlife into a worthy sequel.”
And it was a worthy sequel indeed, based on its $197 million worldwide gross in addition to critical praise (63 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and fan jubilation (94 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.)
The original two Ghostbusters films of the ’80s were helmed by Ivan Reitman, who died unexpectedly in February. His son, Jason, directed and co-wrote Afterlife with Kenan on which his father was a producer. The younger Reitman and Kenan are grateful they were able to lay out their plans for the future of the franchise to the elder Reitman, who was thrilled, the duo tells THR.
“We talked about what we wanted to see happen to the Spengler family and even outside the Spengler family,” explains Reitman. “And he was so excited. He was just thrilled about where we wanted to go. And sitting there, telling him what we wanted to do with the story was a daunting responsibility, but his enthusiasm for it is what fuels us today.”
The pair being tight-lipped about any plot details for the upcoming film (or any of the projects for that matter), Reitman did confirm Ernie Hudson is returning in his iconic role, which Afterlife overtly suggested in the film’s end credits scene between Hudson and Annie Potts.
“The character of Winston Zeddemore and Zeddemore Industries figures strongly into the future of Ghostbusters,” concedes Reitman.
And if the next live-action film was not enough for fans to be thrilled about, another animated film is in the works with Sony Pictures Animation. The creative team behind the project includes directors Jennifer Kluska (Hotel Transylvania: Transformania) and Chris Prynoski (executive producer, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe), and writer Brenda Hsueh (supervising producer, Disjointed).
There is also a new animated series on the way with production handled by Netflix and Ghost Corps, Inc., which is based at Sony’s Columbia Pictures.
“The animated film will take us to places that we’ve never been before,” Kenan tells THR. “We love these characters, and we’re so excited to push the boundaries of what we think of as a Ghostbusters story. We will keep the flame burning bright with all these concepts, which will continue to grow what a Ghostbusters story can be.”
Adds Reitman, “An animated series and an animated film will allow us to go deeper into places that Dan Aykroyd talked about when he first talked about Ghostbusters.”
— Sony Pictures (@SonyPictures) June 8, 2022
Among games fans can anticipate is Ghostbusters VR Academy, a fully immersive training simulator broken up into two distinct games, set in the world of Ghostbusters, developed by Hologate VR Game Sony Pictures Virtual Reality (SPVR), in association with Ghost Corps. It is due out by the end of the year.
Dark Horse Comic is working with Reitman and Kenan on a Ghostbusters comic book series that will help bridge the gap between Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the upcoming sequel.
“When we first talked about Afterlife three years ago at Ghostbusters Day, our hope was that it would lead to all kinds of great storytelling, that it wouldn’t be a one-off film, but the opening of a door, Reitman tells THR. “And today, that promise comes true. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, you’re about to have access to all different decades of Ghostbusters history as well as the future, characters you haven’t met yet, and places you haven’t gone yet. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, you’ve got a lot coming your way.”
— Sony Pictures (@SonyPictures) June 8, 2022