Here’s something no one saw coming at CinemaCon, unless you could decipher the three-hour block Sony reserved for its presentation: The studio surprised those who braved the mid-pandemic Las Vegas confab tonight with a screening of Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The pic hits theaters on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. In the follow-up to the classic 1984 Bill Murray-Harold Ramis-Dan Aykroyd action comedy, a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town. They begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
Sony, which has sent a number of its movies to streamers during the pandemic, held onto this franchise jewel for a theatrical release.
Producer Ivan Reitman, who directed the original pic and its 1989 sequel, showed up with his son Jason Reitman, who directed and wrote this one.
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It was said that talent wasn’t coming to CinemaCon, but here they were.
After Sony Pictures Entertainment Chariman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra introduced the duo, the elder Reitman recalled the first film he ever saw (Robin Hood) which inspired him at age 5-and-a-half to become a filmmaker. He spoke further about an early preview screening of the original Ghostbusters in 1984 that had no VFX — i.e. when they shot the proton packs, nothing came out; Slimer was just a light; and the Stay Puft marshmallow man was merely a styrofoam head. But, “the audience went crazy and it made me feel so good we were going to get away with it,” he said.
Jason Reitman was introduced by his dad and, in keeping with the message of Sony’s presentation, said, “I am honored to be here tonight on behalf of Sony because they are the only studio that is completely dedicated to theatrical distribution.”
He added, “For 40 years, the one question I was asked more than any other was are you going to make a Ghostbusters movie?” Ultimately, Reitman said he decided to do it because he “wanted to make a movie for my father and I wanted to make a movie for my daughter… Ghostbusters is a rare franchise, it doesn’t belong to the filmmakers, it doesn’t belong to me, it doesn’t belong to my father — technically it belongs to Sony — but it belongs to you.”
Introducing the Afterlife screening, Reitman asked the audience how many had seen the original Ghostbusters and promised, “You are about to go on the biggest Easter egg hunt of all time. From the opening musical piece to the end of the end credits, and all I ask is, please no spoilers… We’ve kept the ending secret so that people who come to your movie theaters (can discover it). I mean, if you like the movie, you can tell people that.”