Ghostbusters: Afterlife director explains how the new movie "expands" on the 2016 reboot

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
(Image credit: Sony)

While Ghostbusters: Afterlife completely ignores the events of the controversial 2016 remake, director Jason Reitman says the movie proved to be helpful in many ways, demonstrating that it was possible to continue the Ghostbusters mythology with a new group of characters. 

"I think that the remake proved, at least to me, the idea that the Ghostbusters could be anyone, and I expanded on this idea with Afterlife while always focusing on the family aspect and the history that was created by the original films," Reitman tells SFX Magazine while discussing Afterlife. "Every Ghostbusters film has, up until now, been about the opening of a company, friendship through the window of a business. Gil and I wanted to make a movie about family."

That family, it turns out, belongs to Dr. Egon Spengler, the bespectacled, socially awkward parapsychologist played by the late Harold Ramis in the original movies. "Every story that I’ve ever told began with a character," says Reitman of the inspiration for this new chapter. "In the case of Afterlife, it was a 12-year-old girl standing in a field with a proton pack. At first, I didn’t know who she was. Eventually, I knew that she’d be a genius who found the neutrona wand in her grandfather’s basement. I knew that her brother would find Ecto-1 in a barn and go joyriding. Eventually, I realized that she was a Spengler."

The girl is Egon Spengler’s granddaughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), who’s joined by her gearhead brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Egon’s estranged daughter, single mother Callie (Carrie Coon). "The Spenglers are a single mom and two kids, and they are a family that loves one another but struggles to connect," says Reitman. "When anyone is born into a family, they arrive inside a mystery that started generations before them. Part of any life is trying to figure out where you came from and what drama led to your arrival. This is the moment at which we find Phoebe and Trevor."

For much more on Ghostbusters: Afterlife, make sure to buy the new issue of SFX Magazine, available from October 6. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in cinemas from November 18.