Farewell to an Icon: ‘Ghostbusters’ Director Ivan Reitman Has Passed Away

ivan reitman death

Ivan Reitman, the man who brought us the beloved Ghostbusters films, has passed away. He was 75 years old.

The director’s family told The Associated Press that Reitman had died peacefully in his sleep Saturday night (February 12) at his home in Montecito, California, with his children Jason Reitman, Catherine Reitman and Caroline Reitman releasing a joint statement about their father’s passing.

“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” they said. “We take comfort that his work as a filmmaker brought laughter and happiness to countless others around the world. While we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will remember him always.”

Reitman’s big career break came with the 1978 comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House, which he produced. He also directed Bill Murray in his first starring role in Meatballs in 1979 and then again in Stripes in 1981.

While Reitman was perhaps best known for directing Ghostbusters in 1984, he also helmed plenty of other popular titles such as Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior and Six Days, Seven Nights. In fact, he was reportedly excited at the prospect of revisiting Twins with plans to this year direct Triplets, a sequel to the 1988 comedy that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dany DeVito as unlikely twins. The project was expected to film in the first part of this year in Boston with comedian Tracy Morgan joining the franchise as a long-lost sibling.

In terms of Ghostbusters, Reitman helped catapult the franchise into global mega-success, with the supernatural comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis grossing nearly USD$300 million worldwide. The film also earned two Oscar nominations and developed into a hugely profitable IP which included spinoffs, television shows and a new movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, that opened in 2021 and was directed by Ivan’s son, Juno filmmaker Jason Reitman.

“It was a very personal and sometimes tear-inducing experience,” Ivan told The Hollywood Reporter of seeing Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson back in their uniforms for Afterlife. 

“The day that all three of them showed up for the first time and were just checking stuff out — it was just extraordinary; just feeling the vibe, not just for me, but I felt it in the crew and cast. I felt it everywhere.”

Elsewhere, he told Screenrant that he cried after hearing his son’s idea to continue the franchise. “I started weeping way back, as soon as Jason told me the story,” he said in the interview. “The very first time that he explained that he thought he had a Ghostbusters idea that he was considering doing, he told me the story, and I could feel the emotionality of it and how it was such the right idea to continue this story that I was fortunate enough to direct in ’84.”

The tributes have been pouring in for the late director, with Paul Feig, who directed 2016’s female-led Ghostbusters film, Tweeting, “I’m in absolute shock. I had the honour of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience. He directed some of my favourite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much. Thank you for everything, Ivan. Truly.”

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani also paid his respects with a Tweet reading, “A legend. The number of great movies he made is absurd. RIP” with a subsequent Tweet revealing that Ghostbusters is his favourite film of all time.

Read on for more reactions to Reitman’s passing:

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