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Jason Reitman Recalls The Unshakable Vision He Had A Decade Before Ghostbusters: Afterlife

You never know when inspiration will strike. Maybe, if you're like Jason Reitman in the years leading up to "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," you hope it never will.

In his early years as a filmmaker, Reitman was never shy about his reluctance to continue the franchise that his father, Ivan Reitman, had launched back in 1984. The younger Reitman wanted to work on his own pictures — generally speaking, smaller, thoughtful character pieces like "Thank You for Smoking," "Juno," and "Up in the Air." Like a lot of kids, he wasn't interested in going into the family business. Unlike a lot of kids, he had generation-defining iconography and a culturally ubiquitous Ray Parker Jr. theme song pushing back against his most rebellious intentions.

Maybe that's why, sometime around the start of the 2010s, the beloved indie writer-director's brain started messing with him, tantalizing him with IP-specific visions of what could be. Put another way, Reitman was seeing things running through his head, and there was a short list of people he was gonna call about something like that.

Jason Reitman was haunted by visions

The story reads equal parts eerie and fateful. "A decade ago, I had this vision of a girl shooting a proton pack in a cornfield and suddenly popcorn flying up and her catching and eating it," eventual "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" director Jason Reitman recalled in a 2021 interview with Insider. "It was just one of those images where I was like, 'Well, I don't know what to do with that.'"

It must have been frustrating, having a clear idea for an iconic shot in a franchise that you're trying to stay away from. Still, Reitman kept the thought logged away, and it eventually paid off. "I suddenly knew who the girl was when Harold died," the filmmaker continued, referring to Egon Spengler actor Harold Ramis, whose family played a big role in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."

And the rest is history. The girl in Reitman's head became McKenna Grace's Phoebe Spengler, Egon's granddaughter and the face of a new generation of Ghostbusters, complete with rural proton pack shenanigans. Sadly, there's still no word on what kind of prognostication brought about the advent of teeny-tiny Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men.