When one thinks of Ghostbusters, whether it’s the 1984 classic, the sequel. the reboot, or even Ghostbusters: The Video Game (which is actually touted as a sequel to the first two films), it’s hard not to think of New York City. After all, the Big Apple is as synonymous with the Ghostbusters as it is with the Ninja Turtles. But when the trailer landed for Ghostbusters: Afterlife in late 2019, fans learned that the long-awaited threequel would not be returning to Manhattan, instead opting for a sleepy backwater town reminiscent of shows such as Stranger Things and Stephen King’s IT, where it will focus on a new set of characters.
Regardless, fans didn’t complain, perhaps quickly realizing that it was something they never knew they wanted all along; that the setting of New York City had, in many ways – and with no thanks to the reboot – become fatigued. So now that the Ghostbusters franchise has departed its big city roots for something a little rustier and dustier, let’s take a look at where the film is set, and where it was shot.
So now you know that, unlike the first two movies, the third sequel in the franchise does not take place in Manhattan, New York. In fact, it’s the first Ghostbusters story to depart the iconic urban setting altogether, with the exception of isolated stories within IDW’s ongoing Ghostbusters comic book series (which aren’t considered canonical in relation to the movies, given that they often ‘cross the streams’ with other iterations of Ghostbusters and other franchises). But don't worry - we now know that, along with an entirely new cast, the original Ghostbusters will also be returning to the fold, along with some classic villains too.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is instead set in a sleepy backwater town in Oklahoma, called Summerville, as so named in the trailer. While it goes without saying that this new setting is a major aesthetic departure from New York City, fans seem to be welcoming the idea of a sequel taking place in a brand-new environment. So instead of dark sewers, bustling city streets, and sky-scraping rooftops, this time expect something strange to take place in dark mines, small towns, and creepy old farms. In fact, this might just be the creepiest Ghostbusters yet.
The short answer is no, but, of course, Oklahoma certainly is! Summerville is a fictional town created entirely for the movie.
Summerville, Oklahoma might not be a real location, but as you can clearly see from the trailer, it’s hardly a bunch of green screens on a sound stage. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was actually filmed throughout the province of Alberta, Canada, including Beiseker, Calgary, Crossfield, Drumheller, and Fort MacLeod, where wheatfields, mountains, quarries, modest towns, and old farms with dusty barns were ripe for the taking.
In a recent Twitter Spaces podcast hosted by IGN, which welcomed several members of the cast and crew in celebration of ‘Ghostbusters Day’, when asked what inspired him to make the new film, director Jason Reitman said, “I saw a young girl with a proton pack in the middle of a wheatfield", and of the film’s setting, explained, "it's not set at all in New York; we wanted to go somewhere new and we wanted this to feel like we were discovering all this Ghostbusters equipment for the first time. It made sense to get out of New York."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife releases in theaters on November 19, 2021.