‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is almost upon us, as the Ecto-1 will be storming in theaters with sirens blaring on November 19, following a number of delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But will there be a 'Ghostbusters 4'?
The movie is the official threequel to the 1984 film and its 1989 sequel and will ignore the 2016 ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot – which isn't even set in the same universe as those original films anyway. The idea of a third ‘Ghostbusters’ movie has long been a controversial topic with fans, as actor Bill Murray has long been portrayed as the man responsible for the film having never happened.
However, Murray, along with other original ‘Ghostbusters’ actors, ended up lending their services to the reboot, appearing in cameos as new characters. But now, ‘Afterlife’ will see the return of Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, and Sigourney Weaver, who will be reprising their roles as Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore, Ray Stantz, Janine Melnitz, and Dana Barrett.
This time, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Conner, Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon will be taking up the mantle (though it looks like Rudd and Coon will be the new Keymaster and the Gatekeeper). So the torch will be handed off to a new generation, a concept that echoes the fact that Jason Reitman, son of director Ivan Reitman, is at the helm of this new movie.
While we’re yet to see the film, we can’t help but wonder what this means for the franchise. It’s a bit premature to speculate about a fourth ‘Ghostbusters’ movie, but the fact that ‘Afterlife’ will form a new team does raise the possibility of a continuation. Will there be a sequel to ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’? Or has Jason Reitman ensured that this film is a one-and-done affair?
Unlike the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, whose creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have placed an embargo on future sequels or reboots, the Reitmans don’t actually hold the full rights to ‘Ghostbusters’, with Sony Pictures being Gozer where that ownership is concerned. And the fact we’ve got a third film in the original series just five years after the reboot is proof of that.
We don’t think the ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise is going anywhere, but there are actually already talks of a ‘Ghostbusters 4’ – which isn’t unusual, though it’s likely that, if conversations are being had, then a film will only be in its conceptualization phase anyway. And cameras wouldn't even start rolling until the numbers are crunched on the upcoming sequel.
But either way, are there plans for a ‘Ghostbusters 4’? Will the new generation of Ghostbusters return for a second outing, which would be the fourth canon film in the series? Or would a fourth entry focus on a new set of characters altogether? Grab your ecto-goggles, kick your traps and light up your proton packs, and let’s see if there’s any paranormal activity going on behind the scenes...
In a recent interview with Jake's Takes, actor Ernie Hudson, who plays one of the OG Ghostbusters, Winston Zeddemore, and appears in the new movie, did hint at the possibility of a fourth movie. When asked if he would appear in the fourth film, the actor said, "If they threw it [at me], I'd be honored to do it. I've heard rumors they're writing a new one, so let's see."
Another clue for a fourth movie is ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ itself. The film focuses on the grandchildren of Egon Spengler, whose off-screen death mirrors the real-life passing of Harold Ramis. He has left behind all the equipment for his grandchildren, a literal passing-of-the-torch. And with something strange in Summerville, the gear will undoubtedly be put to good use.
While it’s unlikely this film has been made with a sequel in mind, with Jason Reitman being the kind of director who likes to focus on character-driven storytelling, there’s still no doubt that the studio will have wanted some kind of groundwork laid for a potential sequel, depending on how the film performs in theaters.
Where a fourth film could go really depends on what happens in ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’. While we can piece together what will probably happen from the five trailers, we still haven't seen the film. Either way, it looks like we’ll be going back to the Gozer storyline, as original villains such as the Terror Dogs and the StayPuft Marshmallow Man are also returning to the fold.
Perhaps then, ‘Ghostbusters 4’ would echo the events of ‘Ghostbusters II’, and bring back the evil painting of Vigo. With that said, while we’re excited for the new film, it would be nice to see something new, rather than a re-tread of things we’ve seen before. But once we’re given a whiff of those potent nostalgia fumes, we’re hypocrites and suckers for all things derivative.
There are many directions in which the filmmakers could go with a fourth movie, though, as unbeknownst to many fans and cinemagoers, ‘Ghostbusters’ has enjoyed a lot of success on the graphic novel side of things, too, with IDW Publishing having overseen the series for 10 years and counting. They're a little darker too, which would make for an interesting new film.
While the comics have a ‘Ghostbusters’ multiverse (not unlike almost every other comic book franchise, and now movie franchises like the 'MCU' and the 'DCEU'), there are still plenty of stories that could work in a ‘Ghostbusters 4’. Whatever that might be, we'd love to see something a lot darker, as 'Ghostbusters' is a franchise that could work quite well in the R-rated format.
As for whether the new cast will return, this also remains to be seen. It’s fair to say that this might be the original cast’s final outing, but never say never, as it’s the second time they’ve returned to the ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise in five years. And where there’s something strange, you can bet your bottom dollar that the OG cast will be there. As much as we love them, though, it would be nice to commit to some fresh blood, rather than introducing new characters, while at the same time relying on original ones for the movie to sell tickets.
Next time, if we must have returning legacy characters, it would be pretty cool to see Rick Moranis return to the fold, as well as Janosz, played by Peter MacNicol. See what we mean about those nostalgia fumes? Is there a river of psychomagnotheric slime running beneath movie theaters that are forcing us all to throw our cash at anything that reminds us of times in our lives long past?
Now that's a great idea for a sequel.