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Ghostbusters Afterlife delights fans

Members of the Ghostbusters fan club pose in front of the Empress Theatre on Saturday night.

A huge roar erupted Saturday night in the Empress Theatre when a sell-out crowd got its first glimpse of Fort Macleod in Ghostbusters Afterlife.

The much-anticipated special screening of the Hollywood blockbuster filmed in part in Fort Macleod did not disappoint. 

Fans cheered every time Fort Macleod appeared, and when beloved characters made their first appearance.

The sell-out crowd paid $100 each to attend the special screening, which was held in advance of Ghostbusters Afterlife premieres in New York and Los Angeles.

Veteran Alberta actor Shaun Johnston, well-known for his roles in the TV series Heartland and Jake and the Kid, said Fort Macleod’s premiere illustrates how strong the film industry is right now in the province.

Johnston said the film industry was going strong until it suffered a blow when the Klein government killed the Alberta Motion Picture Development Corporation.

Johnston, who was in Fort Macleod for the Ghostbusters Afterlife premiere, said renewed government investment, as well as Alberta’s stunning scenery, has the film industry once again in a strong position.

“Here we are all these years later and we’re watching a Ghostbusters premiere in Fort Macleod,” Johnston said.

Johnston predicted Alberta will continue to attract movies and TV shows thanks to highly skilled people in the industry, government support and Alberta’s scenery.

Ticket-holders and the public enjoyed a street festival that included appearances by Ghostbusters fan club members, people dressed as characters, a replica Ecto-1 vehicle and photo opportunities.

Empress Theatre Society chair Denise Joel thanked Sony Canada and the Town of Fort Macleod for the opportunity to stage a fund-raiser around the special screening.

Proceeds from ticket sales go to the Empress Theatre’s seat and floor improvement project.

Society vice-chair Dona Guyette thanked Empress staff, sponsors and volunteers, as well as the businesses who co-operated with the film crew.

“This is just really awesome,” Fort Macleod councillor Kristi Edwards said of having watched filming of Ghostbusters Afterlife and getting to attend the special screening.

The special screening attracted people from government.

Guests included Foothills MP John Barlow, Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid, Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf, Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Skow, Deputy Minister of Alberta Culture and Status of Women Heather Caltagirone, Assistant Deputy Minister of Alberta Culture and Status of Women Melissa Banks, Alberta Film executive director and commissioner Mark Ham, Susan Darch of Travel Alberta and Edmonton Screen Industries Office CEO Tom Viinikka.

Tribute was paid to the organizing committee, which included Brock Skretting of Keep Alberta Rolling, Sydney Tobler of the Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce, Carmen Toth of Adair Advertising and Marketing, government of Alberta liaison Natalie Ozipko, Empress Theatre director Margaret Ann Bianco, and administrative assistant Meranda Day Chief, interim chief administrative officer Liisa Gillingham and former CAO Sue Keenan from the Town of Fort Macleod.

“Thank you once again to Sony Canada for allowing this evening to move forward,” Edwards added.

Ghostbusters Afterlife director Jason Reitman had recorded a message for the special screening, thanking Fort Macleod for its co-operation during filming.