Will it be Ghostbusters 4? Will it count the 2016 reboot and be Ghostbusters 5? Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2? Ghostbusters: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part 3? We don’t know and right now we don’t care. All we know for sure is that the sequel to last year’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not only officially green-lit, but we know when to expect it in theaters. We’ll be able to see the next chapter in the film franchise before next Christmas.
As reported by Deadline, the next Ghostbusters film is scheduled to hit theaters Wednesday, December 20, 2023, and it won’t be alone. Deadline notes that the sequel will face heavy competition that week. The same day will see the releases of the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and the animated adventure movie The Tiger’s Apprentice. That Friday two major science fiction franchises are also set to release films — Star Trek 4 and Patty Jenkins’ Star Wars film Rogue Squadron.
The news that the Ghostbusters sequel was on the way came in April, though there still is little more than crumbs when it comes to what we can expect from the plot. Afterlife director and co-writer Jason Reitman teased toward the end of last year that it could be the villain of 1989’s Ghostbusters II — Vigo the Carpathian — in the next film. The malevolent spirit was trapped inside a painting that no longer exists, but Reitman said there are easy ways around that. “There is a lot of time and opportunity for Vigo The Carpathian to make his return,” Reitman argued. “Look, are you saying that’s the only painting of Vigo The Carpathian? Maybe, he’s riding a horse in another one, maybe, impaling someone in another one.” Of course, if we are destined to see Vigo return, it will have be a different actor who plays him. The villain was originated by Wilhelm von Homburg, who died of prostate cancer in 2004.
There has sadly been a lot of tragedy surrounding the Ghostbusters franchise. Harold Ramis — who appeared in the first two films as the egghead Egon Spengler and co-wrote both movies — died in 2014. Afterlife was dedicated to Ramis, and with the help Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption) and a lot of VFX wizardry, his character returned as a spectral ally toward the end of the film in a way that had most audience members old enough to have seen the first film in the theater bawling their eyes out. Sadly, less than three months after Afterlife‘s release, Ivan Reitman — director of the first two films and Jason Reitman’s father — passed away.
While there aren’t a lot of details known about the next Ghostbusters entry, per the post-credits scene for Afterlife, it will return to the New York setting of the first two films. We can only hope we’ll see the return of the younger actors from Afterlife like Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace as Egon Spengler’s grandkids, and Logan Kim as the very Ray-Stantz-esque Podcast. Then there’s Carrie Coon as Egon’s grown daughter and Paul Rudd as her love interest. Of course, there’s the question of whether the long-timers will return. From the Afterlife post-credits scene it seemed very likely we’ll see Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts return as their respective characters. But whether we’ll see Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, or Sigourney Weaver only time will tell. Or, hey, maybe they could coax Rick Moranis back to the fold!