Ghostbusters (later marketed as Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) is a 2016 American supernatural comedy film directed by Paul Feig and written by Feig and Katie Dippold. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Justin Kirk, and Neil Casey, it is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name and the third film in the Ghostbusters franchise. The story focuses on four eccentric women (and their incompetent assistant) who are interested in parapsychology and start a ghost-catching business in New York City.
A third Ghostbusters film had been in various stages of development following the release of Ghostbusters II in 1989. Because of original cast member Bill Murray's refusal to commit to the project, and the death of fellow cast member Harold Ramis in 2014, Sony decided to reboot the series instead. Many of the original film's cast members make cameo appearances in new roles, and Ramis is commemorated in the film's closing credits. The announcement of the female-led cast in 2015 drew a polarized response from the public and an internet backlash, leading to the film's IMDb page and associated YouTube videos receiving low ratings before the film's release.
Produced by Village Roadshow Pictures and distributed by Columbia Pictures, the film premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on July 9, 2016, and was released in the United States on July 15, 2016, in IMAX, 4DX, 3D, Real D 3D and IMAX 3D. The film grossed $229 million worldwide against its $144 million budget, but because of its combined production, marketing and other costs, it became a box office bomb, with losses of over $70 million. Columbia Pictures abandoned plans for a sequel, opting instead to continue the original series with Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).
Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert are physicists and estranged friends in New York City who co-authored Ghosts from Our Past, a book detailing their investigations of the paranormal since high school. While Abby continued at an inadequate research college, the Kenneth P. Higgins Institute of Science, with engineering physicist Jillian Holtzmann, Erin, now a professor at Columbia University, disowned the work to gain academic tenure. When Abby republished their book, Erin convinces her to cease its publication after helping Abby and Jillian at an alleged haunted house. They encounter a malevolent woman in white before she escapes, restoring Erin's belief in the supernatural and friendship with Abby. Their vlog has become viral, and the trio is fired because of this. After stealing equipment, they establish temporary headquarters above a Chinese restaurant. They verbosely name themselves "Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination". They build technology to track ghosts and hire jock Kevin Beckman as a receptionist.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) staffer Patty Tolan encounters a ghost in a terminal built under a haunted prison in Auburn and contacts the team. They find the ghost and test Jillian's prototype on the entity but fail to capture him. They advertise their services with a "no ghosts allowed" logo that Jillian made based on a graffiti, and the name pundits have labeled them—"Ghostbusters". Patty joins the team, providing extensive knowledge of New York State, boilersuits and steel-toe boots, and a repurposed hearse, "Ecto-1".
Rowan North, a mad scientist with a god complex delving into the occult, affects the supernatural events by attracting ghosts over Manhattan with ionizers he developed. They are akin to the Ghostbusters' technology, allowing him to experiment and create a dimensional vortex powered by turned psi energy, scheming to achieve godhood. When Rowan plants another device at a concert, the Ghostbusters are called and capture a bestial entity that lives there, becoming city sensations but Rowan's enemies. While debunker Dr. Martin Heiss challenges the Ghostbusters, Erin releases the ghost as proof; it throws Heiss out a window and escapes. The Ghostbusters are brought to Mayor Bradley and his secretary Jennifer Lynch, who reveal that they and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are aware of the city's supernatural activities. While privately acknowledging the team's work, they publicly denounce them as fraudsters.
The Ghostbusters realize Rowan is planting his devices along ley lines, with their alignments intersecting at the Mercado Hotel in Times Square, a site of violent occurrences. They find that Rowan's vortex will breach a ghostly afterlife dimension on the point, attempting to compass the apocalypse. During a confrontation, Rowan electrocutes himself with his main machine, after which Jillian deactivates it. Jillian finds an annotated copy of Ghosts from Our Past in Rowan's underground laboratory, explaining the similarity between their technologies, and Erin later discovers that his suicide was a pivotal part of his scheme. Rowan returns as a godlike ghost and attempts to kill the Ghostbusters at their headquarters by possessing Abby, but Patty stops him. He then inhabits Kevin and escapes to the hotel, opening the portal and releasing galvanized ghosts. The authorities are subdued, but the Ghostbusters fight through Rowan's spectral army to reach the portal.
After leaving Kevin, Rowan takes the form of the sketch ghost in the Ghostbusters' logo, grows over 100 feet tall, and goes berserk. The team uses the Ecto-1's reactor as a makeshift bomb, detonating a nuclear explosion inside the vortex that protonically reverses it, which forces the ghosts back and closes the portal, restoring the city. Rowan tries to drag Abby with him in retaliation, but Erin leaps into the portal and rescues her as Rowan is neutralized.
Despite the city's fascination with the supernatural and lauding the Ghostbusters as heroes, the mayor's office continues to denounce them publicly but covertly funds their operations. With new resources, the Ghostbusters move to a disused firehouse, where they build more equipment, including an ecto-containment system.
While investigating electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), Patty hears the strange word "Zuul."