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For an entire generation, 1984’s Ghostbusters remains a cinematic landmark. But after its 1989 sequel, the franchise remained locked in place for decades. The much-discussed potential of Ghostbusters 3 seemed gone for good after the 2014 death of Harold Ramis, one of the original quartet of heroes. But five years after the 2016 reboot divided the internet, Ghostbusters: Afterlife restored the original canon and teased a promising new future.

Dan Aykroyd speaks as Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray look on
Dan Aykroyd speaks as Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray look on | Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ serves as a bridge film for the franchise

Directed by Jason Reitman — son of the late Ivan Reitman, director of the first two films — Ghostbusters: Afterlife has two clear goals in mind. On one hand, the film serves as a much-delayed coda to the original cast. Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and even Bill Murray reprise their roles. And in doing so, fans who’ve longed to see the original four Ghostbusters suit up one last time get their wish in a heartfelt farewell to Ramis.

But at the same time, Hollywood still runs on nostalgia-driven franchises. And Ghostbusters is a globally recognized brand Sony isn’t eager to leave on the shelf for long. So Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard lead a new generation seemingly armed — with proton packs, no less — and ready to take on supernatural forces just like the original crew. And Ghostbusters: Afterlife leans on the now tried-and-true “legacy sequel” recipe of callbacks and Easter eggs.

Where ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ leaves the story going forward

The climax of Ghostbusters: Afterlife brings the franchise full circle and features a fitting swan song for not only Ramis but that initial incarnation of the series. Aykroyd and other original stars seem open to returning in future films. However, that’s not the direction a proposed Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel is likely to go. Instead, the future of the Ghostbusters franchise rests in the hands of Winston Zeddemore (Hudson).

Since the original films, Winston has become a wealthy entrepreneur. And the post-credits scene of Ghostbusters: Afterlife implies that he is gearing up to restart the business all over again. In that scene, Winston brings the team’s beloved Ecto-1 back to the original firehouse, having vowed to restore the classic car. And a light in the ecto-containment unit flashes red, implying the Ghostbusters have lots more work to do.


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Is another ‘Ghostbusters’ movie already in the works?

More than likely, Grace, Wolfhard, and other younger stars such as Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor will serve as the next-generation Ghostbusters. Or at the very least, they will be key members of a larger team. Perhaps Winston might even franchise out the Ghostbusters brand, leading to several groups of proton pack-wearing heroes. But before any of that happens, is Ghostbusters: Afterlife even getting a sequel to begin with?

According to Variety, the film’s box office was encouraging enough for Sony to continue developing another entry. Ghostbusters: Afterlife earned a total of $197 million worldwide on a reported $75 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. Ironically, this is less than the 2016 reboot earned in theaters. But that film cost nearly twice as much, making the new film far more profitable. In the end, Ghostbusters fans can probably count on another sequel soon.