Mere months after the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the revitalized franchise has lost its greatest champion. Filmmaker Ivan Reitman passed away peacefully Saturday night at the age of 75. He was known not only for Ghostbusters, but for directing or producing influential, raucous comedies Animal House and Old School among many others.
“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” his children Jason, Catherine and Caroline Reitman said in a joint statement.
“We take comfort that his work as a film-maker 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 got his feet wet in features by producing two films for David Cronenberg, 1975’s Shivers, followed by Rabid in 1977. His big break came when he produced the baudy campus comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House in 1978, followed by Bill Murray’s first starring role in Meatballs a year later.
The ’80s and ’90s were Reitman’s busiest time, with 1984’s Ghostbusters the launch of a franchise he would be synonymous with his entire career. He also produced or directed other memorable films Legal Eagles, Dave, Junior, Private Parts, both Beethoven films, as well as two of my personal favorites Kindergarten Cop and Six Days, Seven Nights.
In the 2000s, Reitman slowed down but still managed to be involved in a number of successful films, including Road Trip, Eurotrip, I Love You, Man, and the classic Will Ferrell comedy Old School. Reitman also produced his son Jason Reitman’s Oscar-nominated Up in the Air.
But it’s Ghostbusters where Reitman left his greatest mark. The 1984 paranormal comedy starred Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, the late Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and more, earning over $300M worldwide and launching a comedy franchise. It continued with Ghostbusters II in 1989, and was revived by Paul Feig with Ghostbusters: Answer the Call in 2016, and continued with son Jason at the helm with Ghostbusters: Afterlife late in 2021.
“I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience,” Feig wrote. “He directed some of my favorite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much.”
At the time of his passing, Reitman was on board to direct Triplets, a sequel to his 1988 comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
We send our condolences to the friends and family of Ivan Reitman for their loss.