While it hasn’t been that long since Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) — the highly anticipated threequel some 30 years in the making — finally arrived in theaters, fans have been expecting news about a future movie, or anything that might further evolve and expand the Ghostbusters universe.
It has since been suggested by Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore) that a fourth movie may indeed happen, but nothing appears to be on the table just yet. However, given the success of Afterlife — $197.4 million at the global box office — this is perhaps inevitable.
If it does happen, it’s unknown whether or not Afterlife director Jason Reitman will be involved. And sadly, Ivan Reitman, Jason’s father and director of Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989), who was also producer on the latest film, recently passed away.
It’s fair to say that each Ghostbusters movie to date has been something of a family project. After all, Ivan Reitman helmed the original two, both of which featured his son in a cameo (although the scene from the first film was cut — one of many fun facts about that 1984 original!).
Even Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) featured cameos from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts. While generally panned, this is one of a few things the reboot gets right (although Rick Moranis was sadly absent).
And each of those cast members returned for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, whose premise about the descendants of Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis in the original two films) picking up the proton pack mirrors a real-life passing of the torch, from Ivan Reitman to Jason Reitman.
The long-awaited sequel is also a celebration of the original 1984 film, while serving as a love letter from Jason Reitman to that film and his experience on the sets of both with his father Ivan. Not only that, but Afterlife, in its entirety, is a homage to the late Harold Ramis.
However, some of the cast and crew reunited long before the 2016 reboot and the 2021 sequel. Aykroyd and Ramis served as writers for Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009), while all the original Ghostbusters returned to reprise their roles, along with Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz.
The game is widely considered canon with the first two movies, however, Afterlife does appear to somewhat contradict — or at least not acknowledge — certain events of the game, which involves the resurgence of all the previously captured spooks throughout Manhattan.
While it sounds silly that any video game would be canon, this is something that tends to happen quite a lot. And when you have the original writers and the original actors on board, it’s hard to ignore. If you’ve never played Ghostbusters: The Video Game, we highly recommend it!
As for a follow-up to Afterlife, sometimes, sequels can take on the form of unexpected entities — a bit like the manifestation of Gozer in the original Ghostbusters, which turned out to be a 100ft, anthropomorphic marshmallow man. Needless to say, nobody saw that coming.
Speaking of Ghostbusters video games, there’s something strange in the neighborhood once again. So who ya gonna call? Well, no one, because two original Ghostbusters are back for a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in the form of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed (2022)!
Check out the official trailer for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed below:
This “asymmetrical” multiplayer game looks like spooktacular fun, with a new team of four Ghostbusters who set up shop in the iconic firehouse in Manhattan, under the tutelage of none other than Winston Zeddemore, with Ernie Hudson reprising his role for the fifth time.
In the Ghostbusters: Afterlife post-credits scene, Winston, now a successful businessman, hints to Janine that a new era of ghostbusting is about to begin. We then see him open the doors to the old firehouse, before we cut to the Ecto-Containment unit, upon which a light is flashing ominously.
The Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed trailer appears to be picking up from that very scene, showing Winston now in charge at Ghostbusters HQ, leading a team of new cadets against a wave of never-before-seen supernatural entities in New York City.
While the new team sadly doesn’t include any of the original Ghostbusters, or even any of the new ones for that matter, such as Phoebe (McKenna Grace), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Podcast (Logan Kim), and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), there is another major Ghostbusters character in the trailer.
That character is Ray Stantz, with Dan Aykroyd also reprising his role! We see him answer the phone at Ray’s Occult Books, the store that first appeared in Ghostbusters II, and made a return in Afterlife, during the scene in which he speaks to an incarcerated Phoebe.
This is further proof that Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is indeed a sequel to Afterlife, although it remains to be seen whether or not other characters will make an appearance, such as Janine, Peter, or even the likes of Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) and Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon).
However, Spirits Unleashed features yet another character from the original two Ghostbusters movies, as well as the 2016 reboot — Slimer. And as the trailer promises, you won’t just be able to play as one of the Ghostbusters — for the first time ever, you can play as one of the ghosts too!
Slimer was oddly absent from Afterlife, despite the movie bursting at the seams with main villains from the original Ghostbusters, such as Gozer the Gozerian (Olivia Wilde), Vinz Clortho/the Keymaster, Zuul/the Gatekeeper, and even the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
While news of the game being a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife will thrill many fans, it also raises the question as to whether or not we’ll get a movie sequel. Following the success of Afterlife, it’s very unlikely that Sony Pictures intends to call it a day with a video game.
With that said, given the troubled history of Ghostbusters in film (it did take some 30 years for a third entry in the original series to finally happen, even if we got a reboot in that time), it’s difficult to tell. Or perhaps there’s already a new movie in the works — it’s possible.
The 2021 sequel’s post-credits scene definitely suggests a sequel of some kind, hinting towards a possible “Ghostbusters International”, a concept utilized in IDW’s long-running Ghostbusters comic book series, which even includes its own “multiverse”.
Meanwhile, since the release of Afterlife, Aykroyd has shown an interest in having himself, Hudson, and Murray, return for another Ghostbusters movie, which would be their sixth outing (with the 2016 reboot and the 2009 video game included) in the franchise.
So, is Spirits Unleashed a sequel to Afterlife? The short answer is yes. All kinds of media can take on the form of a sequel, whether it’s a comic book, a novel, an animated series, or in this case, a video game. Why should Ghostbusters be any different to other franchises?
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is described as an “asymmetrical multiplayer” which features up to four players, and will be released on the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One later this year, during “Q4”.
Will you be playing Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed? And do you think we will get a movie sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife?