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Jason Reitman Directing a New ‘Ghostbusters’ Takes “Legacy Sequel” to the Next Level

Who ya gonna call to continue your franchise? How about your own child?
Jason Reitman In Ghostbusters
Columbia Pictures
By  · Published on January 16th, 2019

There’s a gag in Back to the Future Part II where a marquee for Jaws 19 is credited to director Max Spielberg. That’s the real son of Back to the Future producer and original Jaws director Steven Spielberg. Max, who was four when the joke was made, did wind up a director — well, of just one short film back in 2002, at least — but it doesn’t look like he’s going to fulfill the idea of ever actually helming a Jaws sequel.

Now, if a time-travel movie had delivered a gag about a Ghostbusters sequel directed by Jason Reitman, that would’ve been a great prediction. Entertainment Weekly revealed that the younger Reitman, who appeared in a tiny role in Ghostbusters II, will helm a direct follow-up to that sequel, which like the original was made by his father, Ivan Reitman. Jason wrote the script with Gil Kenan, who made the Poltergeist remake, and Ivan Reitman is producing the new installment.

The younger Reitman is quoted by EW acknowledging Paul Feig’s recent women-led Ghostbusters redo, which he says he hopes still spawns its own continuation. But that wasn’t a huge success, nor have been Jason’s own films, which include two releases from last year (Tully and The Front Runner). So, both he and Sony are going back to the main property. How connected to the original characters is unknown, however. Jason told EW:

“I’ve always thought of myself as the first ‘Ghostbusters’ fan, when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set. I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans. This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day.”

He goes on to say, “We have a lot of wonderful surprises and new characters for the audience to meet.” Those new characters apparently include four teenage leads (two boys, two girls), per The Hollywood Reporter’s additional scoop. Maybe they’re the young children of Ray, Peter, Egon, and Winston? Hopefully, that’s not the case, especially since the ages wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Still, Ivan told EW, “It will be a passing of the torch both inside and out.”

Of course, torch passing has been a staple of film series for the last few years, as the term “legacy sequel” has been applied to anything where a franchise attempts to move forward with a new generation of actors/characters. Sometimes the younger players are offspring, as in the cases of Tron: Legacy, Creed, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and last year’s Halloween. Other times, they’re just new characters, or it’s a mix as in the current Star Wars trilogy.

The younger Reitman knows the property, that’s for sure. In the EW article, he talks about his experiences as a child on the set of the original and shares what he loves about the franchise — “The iconography. The music. The tone.” Still, his own work as a writer/director doesn’t exactly seem relevant to those aspects he’s now expected to honor.

Inheriting a franchise from a parent isn’t totally fresh, even outside the BTTF2 gag. Chronicle and Bright screenwriter Max Landis has been working on a new version of An American Werewolf in London, but that’s a remake of father John Landis‘ 1981 horror-comedy classic. We’ve seen offspring directed by their parents and offspring directing documentaries or biopics about their parents, and with Solo: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming Indiana Jones sequel we see Jonathan Kasdan collaborating and continuing the screenwriting efforts of father Lawrence Kasdan, but have we seen offspring directing sequels of their parents’ works? Does Bryce Dallas Howard directing an episode of Star Wars show The Mandalorian after her father, Ron Howard, helmed Solo count?

Reitman continuing the specific family business here has inspired fans to come up with other possibilities. In addition to the few noted in the Twitter exchange above, how about Sofia Coppola’s The Godfather Part IV or Jake Scott doing the next Alien sequel (the former acted in The Godfather Part III, directed by father Francis Ford Coppola, and the latter worked as an artist on Alien 3, a sequel to a movie made by father Ridley Scott)? Can Rob Reiner do The Jerk 3?

As for Ghostbusters, which is supposed to begin filming soon and is set for release next summer, this familial preservation of the legacy could mean we’ll never see the end of the franchise. Not only because there’s also an animated feature still in the works or because Dan Aykroyd still wants to keep milking it (strangely, his involvement with this new project is unknown per initial reporting). But also because we can foresee the further lineage of the sequels. Jason Reitman does have a daughter…

Update: here’s a teaser also via EW:

Read more:

– A Not-So Brief History of Ghostbusters III

– 38 Things We Learned from Paul Feig and Katie Dippold’s Ghostbusters Commentary

– 6 Filmmaking Tips from Jason Reitman


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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.