Jason Reitman didn’t care about hunting ghosts. Son of director Ivan Reitman, he grew up on the set of his father’s movies, such as “Recruits of the Hardcore”, “Twin Brothers” and of course “The Ghostbusters”. Cinema was in the DNA. His flirtation with medical school soon opened up space for him to establish himself as a filmmaker in his own voice.
Already in his debut, the comic drama (dramatic comedy?) “Thanks for Smoking”, Jason has developed an almost confessional style and delicate work with his actors. This sensitivity was apparent in “Juno” and, above all, in the exceptional “Amor Sem Escalar”, which transcended a story about the voracity of capitalism into a tale about loneliness. Ghosts? No sign.
It was inevitable, however, that Jason Reitman would be asked the same question, over and over, whenever he released a new work: Would he have ghosts in his filmography? “Look at my movies,” he said in 2008 to presenter Howard Stern. “My ‘Ghostbusters’ would suck, with a lot of people talking about ghosts!” The matter seemed closed.
At the same time, Ivan Reitman tried to materialize a third film in the series since the beginning of the 1990s. The undertaking, in turn, never left the paper. Now the script didn’t have the charm of the 1984 original. Now the schedules didn’t match. Now Bill Murray, the restless Peter Venkman, withdrew from the project, leaving his friends in the lurch.
His partner, Dan Aykroyd, ended up as keeper of the series’ flames. Creator of “The Ghostbusters” in the early 1980s, an idea he honed with actor and screenwriter Harold Ramis, materialized by Ivan Reitman as one of the rare films in which absolutely everything works, Aykroyd repeated, at any opportunity, that the series would eventually return to theaters.
The perfect storm that made “The Ghostbusters” possible in 1984 not only combined the talents of the greatest comedians of their generation, but was also the result of an action among friends. Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Reitman have shared projects since the beginning of their career, and this family atmosphere, with the squabbling and cuddling that such a relationship brings, helped make the film a phenomenon.
The delay in taking a new “Ghostbuster” from the paper began to bother Sony executives, owners of the brand. For decades Aykroyd’s creation survived as intellectual property outside of film. There were several cartoons, comic books, toy lines and video games. In 2016, patience ran out and the brand was handed over to director Paul Feig. It didn’t work out very well.
The thought at the time was to use the concept of ghost hunters and build a story around it, without necessarily using the characters from the first two films. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy headed a new 100 percent female team. The most toxic and radical fans plundered the project from day one, and eventually the thing foundered artistically and commercially.
Jason Reitman, for his part, finally thought it was time to hunt down ghosts. “I apologize for the delay,” he said in a chat with me a few weeks ago. “I wanted to have my films, show how I worked as a director, before poking into my father’s legacy.”
Ivan proudly interrupts the offspring with praise. “Jason has built his own legacy,” he continues. “His films showed that there was room to rethink what ghost hunters were.” Jason quickly shows that he knows how to play as a team: “The Paul Feig movie showed that it was possible to cast other people as ghost hunters, and without him I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you.”
Jason’s reinvention was radical, but totally immersed in the themes of family and legacy. He imagined a teenager with the equipment used by the troupe and, from there, drew a story about a disconnected family that finds its center when facing a past until then shrouded in mystery: the legacy of scientist Egon Spengler, who in the original series was interpreted by Harold Ramis.
“My movie is the next chapter to the original mythology,” explains Jason. “My connection goes back to being on the set of ‘The Ghostbusters’ at age 6, watching marshmallow plummet from the sky and Ecto-1 crossing Manhattan.” He says he’s always wondered what a “Ghostbusters” movie could be, but has only just committed to putting words down on paper.
“Ghostbusters – Beyond” – the title kept in English is now a matter of branding, in “Star Wars” style – exchange New York for the heart of America, a rural Oklahoma community plagued by earthquakes and ghosts. The motifs refer to events in the original film, which guarantees the dose of nostalgia that gives the film its charm.
That nostalgia also permeates backstage. Although he uses digital technology to create the effects of the new film, the director sought an artisan to build ghosts and other creatures that could be seen and felt on set – such as the demonic dogs, which return to history after having Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis in the film. of 1984.
Jason was careful to restore the look of some older effects, even when he had to use a computer. “The really cool thing is using old techniques, such as light and smoke, to create the atmosphere,” he says. “It’s not that fun to be on a set surrounded by green screens, and nothing beats building real sets and having technicians operate monstrous puppets, the same way we saw demons grabbing Sigourney on a couch in the first movie.”
Ivan Reitman, who is also the producer of “Ghostbusters – Beyond,” looks at his son with pride, knowing his legacy is finally in the right hands. When I ask him what the secret is to recapturing the bolt in the bottle, he doesn’t hesitate. “Mixing comedy and horror seriously but without losing the lightness”, he replies, concluding. “Jason brought sincerity to the responsibility of gender balance. That’s the essence of ‘Ghostbusters’.”