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Harold Ramis' Family Played A Big Role In Ghostbusters: Afterlife

For fans of the original "Ghostbusters" movies, the franchise finally came full circle in 2021 with the long-awaited release of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." The rousing supernatural comedy adventure not only introduced a new generation of Ghostbusters to audiences, but it also helped complete the story of original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler — played by the late Harold Ramis — in a meaningful way with the character's return from the afterlife.

Making Egon's appearance as a spirit more poignant was the return of his fellow original Ghostbusters — Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) — who team with their late partner one last time to help defeat the evil specter Gozer.

While Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard play Egon's estranged daughter and grandchildren, respectively, in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," the Spengler family wasn't the only new generation represented in the production. Jason Reitman directed the film under the auspices of his father, Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two "Ghostbusters" films in 1984 and 1989; "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" served as a symbolic passing of the torch to the younger Reitman to lead new "Ghostbusters" tales.

Also heavily involved in the production of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" was Ramis' family, which was appropriate given that in addition to starring in the first two "Ghostbusters" films, the actor co-wrote the screenplays for the productions with Aykroyd.

Reitman made sure Ramis' family was involved throughout the production

Speaking with Empire Online shortly before the movie's release, director Jason Reitman recalled how Harold Ramis' family members were kept informed about the creative direction of the film, which involves the CGI spirit of Egon and a tribute to the actor before the end credits rolled. "The first person that ever read the script was my father, and after my father it was the Ramis family," Reitman said. "It was Harold's widow, Erica, and daughter Violet, who I grew up knowing — we were both on the set of the original back in '83. I talked to them about what we wanted to do, how we were going to do it."

In addition to meeting with Jason Reitman early on, Ramis' family members were present on set and on the top of the director's priority list once the film was ready to roll. "They came to set, and they viewed visual effects that came to the editing room. They're the first people to ever actually see the movie," Reitman told Empire Online. "They were part of this movie from start to finish and I think they were aware of how much I wanted to honor Harold. Egon was my favorite Ghostbuster. This is a Spengler story, and this movie is dedicated to him in every way."

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" went on to pull in more than $204 million at the global box office, according to Box Office Mojo. As hinted by an end credits scene in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," a sequel appears to be in the works, with a tentative release date of December 20, 2023.