Bill Murray was already a big deal in comedy movies when Ghostbusters hit the big screen in 1984. That movie went on to be considered one of the greatest comedies of the decade. The sequel followed five years later, to a strong box office but less overall acclaim.
Following Ghostbusters II, there were always hints that another installment would follow. However, nothing materialized (save the 2016 Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, in which Murray made a cameo - but not as his character Dr. Peter Venkman). The third project never advanced because Murray said he was unhappy with the way Ghostbusters II turned out and did not want to make another one.
In the 30 years after Ghostbusters II, despite interest from Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, Murray seemed content to work on other projects, from Groundhog Day to Lost in Translation to numerous Wes Anderson films. Murray became so annoyed with being asked about Ghostbusters that he called the experience "a nightmare" while appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2010.
The following year, Sony was reportedly willing to put up $150 million to make the third Ghostbusters. The caveat was that Murray had to be in the picture. Once again, Murray resisted. During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, he admitted the new Ghostbusters script was at his house. Though he acknowledged that he was the reason the project wasn't going forward, he said he couldn't be bothered to even really think about it.
Then finally, it happened. A third Ghostbusters film got the green light. Murray changed his whole attitude about the project. He said, "This franchise paid for my son’s college. We made this thing. We are the caretakers of it. It’s a great thing and it was a really fun movie to make. It’s a real movie with some really funny stuff in it."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is directed by original director Ivan Reitman's son, Jason Reitman. A sequel to the first film, it's set 30 years later and features new additions to the cast, including Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon. Besides Murray reprising his role as Venkman, several members of the original cast are also reprising their roles, including Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver. One exception is Ramis, who passed in 2014.
The film had an original release date of July 10, 2020. However, the date was pushed back to March 5, 2021, following the COVID-19 outbreak.