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Ghostbusters (2054 views - Movie)

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American fantasy comedy film produced and directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis co-star as their client Dana Barrett and her neighbor Louis Tully. Aykroyd conceived Ghostbusters as a project for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi, with the protagonists traveling through time and space. Aykroyd and Ramis rewrote the script following Belushi's death and after Reitman deemed Aykroyd's initial vision financially impractical. Filming took place from October 1983 to January 1984. Ghostbusters was released in the United States on June 8, 1984. It received positive reviews and grossed $242 million in the United States and more than $295 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing comedy film of its time. At the 57th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song (for the theme song). The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters 28th on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list of film comedies. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Ghostbusters launched a media franchise, which includes a 1989 sequel, a 2016 reboot, and a new film, Ghostbusters 2020, is scheduled for release in July 2020. The franchise also includes two animated television series (The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters), several video games, comic books, and toy lines.
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Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Produced byIvan Reitman
Written by
Starring
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited by
Production
companies
  • Columbia-Delphi Productions
  • Black Rhino[1]
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 7, 1984 (1984-06-07) (Westwood)
  • June 8, 1984 (1984-06-08) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25–30 million
Box office$295.2 million

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American fantasy comedy film produced and directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis co-star as their client Dana Barrett and her neighbor Louis Tully.

Aykroyd conceived Ghostbusters as a project for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi, with the protagonists traveling through time and space. Aykroyd and Ramis rewrote the script following Belushi's death and after Reitman deemed Aykroyd's initial vision financially impractical. Filming took place from October 1983 to January 1984.

Ghostbusters was released in the United States on June 8, 1984. It received positive reviews and grossed $242 million in the United States and more than $295 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing comedy film of its time. At the 57th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song (for the theme song). The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters 28th on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list of film comedies. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Ghostbusters launched a media franchise, which includes a 1989 sequel, a 2016 reboot, and a new film, Ghostbusters 2020, is scheduled for release in July 2020. The franchise also includes two animated television series (The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters), several video games, comic books, and toy lines.

Plot

Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler are scientists investigating the paranormal at Columbia University. After they lose their jobs following a botched ghost investigation at the New York Public Library, they establish Ghostbusters, a paranormal investigation and elimination service. They open their business in a disused firehouse, develop high-tech equipment to capture ghosts, and convert a combination car into the "Ectomobile" to support their business.

On their first call, at a hotel, Egon warns the group never to cross the energy streams of their proton pack weapons, as this could cause a catastrophic explosion. They capture their first ghost, Slimer, and deposit it in a special containment unit in the firehouse. As paranormal activity increases in New York City, they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore, to cope with demand.

The Ghostbusters are retained by cellist Dana Barrett, whose apartment is haunted by a demonic spirit, Zuul, a demigod worshiped as a servant to Gozer the Gozerian, a shape-shifting god of destruction. Venkman competes with Dana's neighbor, accountant Louis Tully, for her affections. As the Ghostbusters investigate, Dana is possessed by Zuul the Gatekeeper, while Louis is possessed by her counterpart, Vinz Clortho the Keymaster. Both demons speak of the coming of "Gozer the Destructor" and the release of the imprisoned ghosts. The Ghostbusters take steps to keep the two apart.

Walter Peck, an Environmental Protection Agency lawyer, has the Ghostbusters arrested for operating as unlicensed waste handlers. He orders their ghost containment system deactivated, causing an explosion that releases all the ghosts. The ghosts wreak havoc throughout New York City, allowing Louis/Vinz to escape. Consulting blueprints of Dana's apartment building, the Ghostbusters learn that mad doctor and cult leader Ivo Shandor, declaring humanity too sick to exist after World War I, designed the building as a gateway to summon Gozer and bring about the end of the world.

The Ghostbusters are released from custody by the mayor to combat the supernatural crisis. On the apartment building roof, Zuul and Vinz open the gate between dimensions and transform into supernatural hellhounds. Gozer, in the form of a woman, is attacked by the team. Gozer vanishes, but demands that the Ghostbusters "choose the form of the destructor". Ray inadvertently recalls a beloved corporate mascot from his childhood and Gozer appears as the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that attacks the city. Egon tells them to ignore his earlier advice and cross their proton energy streams at Gozer's portal, creating an explosion that closes the gate, destroys the Marshmallow Man, and banishes Gozer back to its dimension. The Ghostbusters rescue Dana and Louis and are welcomed on the street as heroes.

Cast

In addition to the main cast, Ghostbusters features David Margulies as Lenny Clotch, Mayor of New York, Michael Ensign as a Hotel Manager, Slavitza Jovan as Gozer (voiced by Paddi Edwards), Astrologist Ruth Hale Oliver as the Library Ghost, Alice Drummond as the Librarian, Reginald VelJohnson as a police officer, Jennifer Runyon as one of Venkman's psychological test subjects, and Playboy Playmate Kymberly Herrin as a Dream Ghost. Roger Grimsby, Larry King, Joe Franklin, and Casey Kasem cameo as themselves, the latter in a voice-only role. Kasem's wife Jean appears in the film as the tall guest at Louis' party. The film also features appearances by pornstar Ron Jeremy, and a young Debbie Gibson.[2][3][4] Director Ivan Reitman provided miscellaneous ghost voices, including that of Slimer.[5]

Production

Development

Director Ivan Reitman (2013) contributed ideas to the Ghostbusters script and helped secure it funding.

Ghostbusters was inspired by Dan Aykroyd's fascination with, and belief in the paranormal,[1][6] a trait inherited from his father (who wrote the book A History of Ghosts),[7] mother (who claimed she had seen ghosts), grandfather (who experimented with using radios to contact the dead), and great-grandfather (a renowned spiritualist). In 1981, he read an article on quantum physics and parapsychology in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, which gave him the idea of trapping ghosts. Aykroyd was also drawn to the idea of modernizing the comedic ghost films of the early 1900s by teams like Abbott and Costello (Hold That Ghost (1941)), Bob Hope (The Ghost Breakers (1940)), and The Bowery Boys (Ghost Chasers (1951)).[6][8]

Aykroyd began writing the script, intending for it to star himself, Eddie Murphy, and his friend and fellow Saturday Night Live (SNL) alumnus John Belushi, before Belushi's accidental death in March 1982.[6][1] Aykroyd recalled the moment, saying "I was writing a line for John, and [producer and talent agent] Bernie Brillstein called and said they just found him... We loved each other as brothers."[6] He turned to his other SNL former-castmate Bill Murray who agreed to join the project, albeit without an explicit agreement.[6] Aykroyd pitched his concept to Brillstein as three men who chase ghosts, even providing a sketch of the "Marshmallow Man". He likened them to normal pest control, saying that "calling a Ghostbuster was just like getting rats removed."[8]

Aykroyd felt that Ivan Reitman was the logical choice for director, following his successes with Animal House (1978), Meatballs (1979), and Stripes (1981), and having previously worked with him on a Canadian variety television show.[6] Reitman said that he had been told of the basic concept while Belushi was still a prospective cast member, but that it took place in the future with many groups of intergalactic ghostbusters, and "would have cost something like $200 million to make".[8] Aykroyd's original 70–80 page script treatment was more serious in tone and intended to be scary, but contained elements such as the Marsmallow Man and Ghostbusters logo that was in the finished script.[8][6]

Reitman met with Aykroyd over lunch at Art's Delicatessen in Studio City, Los Angeles and explained that his current treatment would be impossible to make. He suggested that setting it entirely on Earth would make the extraordinary elements more humorous, and that if they focused on realism from the beginning then the existence of the Marshmallow Man would be believable by the end. Reitman also conceived the idea of detailing the Ghostbusters' origins working at a university before starting their business, saying "this was beginning of the 1980s: everyone was going into business."[8][6] Following lunch, Reitman and Aykroyd walked to Burbank Studios to meet with Harold Ramis. Reitman had worked with Ramis on Animal House, Meatballs, and Stripes, and believed that he could better execute his intended tone for the script than Aykroyd.[8] Reitman also said Ramis should portray a ghostbuster, and after Ramis read the script he joined the project immediately.[6]

Despite the script now requiring large changes, Reitman pitched the film to then-Columbia Pictures executive Frank Price in March 1983. Price recounted finding the concept funny, but the project itself controversial as comedies were seen to have a ceiling on profitability, and the required budget would be high due to special effects and the cast who had been gaining fame on Saturday Night Live.[6][8] Reitman said that they could work with $25 million—$30 million (different figures have been cited) and Price agreed as long as the film could be released by June 1984.[7][6] They had thirteen months to complete the film, and had no script, effects studio, or a filming start date.[7] Reitman later admitted he made up the budget figure, basing it on three times the budget of Stripes seeming "reasonable".[6] Columbia's then-CEO Fay Vincent sent his lawyer Dick Gallop from New York to Los Angeles to effectively convince Price not to pursue the film, but Price disagreed, and Gallop returned to the head office reporting that Price was "out of control".[8][6]

Several different names were posited for the film, as Ghostbusters was legally restricted by 1970s children's show The Ghost Busters owned by NBCUniversal. Other options included "Ghoststoppers", "Ghostbreakers" and "Ghostsmashers". Fortunately, Price had parted ways with Columbia early in Ghostbusters' production and became head of Universal Pictures, at which point he allowed Columbia to have the title.[8][6][9] Columbia paid $500,000 plus 1% of the film's profits for the title, but through Hollywood accounting practices, the film technically never made a profit for Universal to receive.[10]

Writing

Aykroyd, Ramis, and Reitman began reworking the script, first in Reitman's office before sequestering themselves and their families to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Aykroyd had his own home there, and they worked day and night for approximately two weeks in his basement.[7] Aykroyd was understanding about the reworking of his script, considering himself a "kitchen sink" writer who creates the funny situations and paranormal-jargon, while Ramis refined the jokes and dialogue. They would write separately and then rewrite each other. Many scenes had to be cut, including an asylum haunted by celebrities, and an illegal ghost storage facility in a New Jersey gas station.[6] Their initial, full script draft was completed when they left the Vineyard in mid-July, 1983, with a third and near-final draft ready by early August.[11][7][6] When Murray later flew into New York following the filming of The Razor's Edge to meet Aykroyd and Ramis, he offered little input on the script or his character. Ramis said that having previously written for Murray multiple times, he knew how to handle his character's voice.[6]

The most difficult part of writing was determining the story goal, including who the villain was and their goal, why ghosts were manifesting, and how a towering Marshmallow Man appeared. The Marshmallow Man was one of many elaborate creatures in Aykroyd's initial treatment, originally intended to emerge from the East River only 20 minutes into the film, and it stood out to Reitman but also concerned him due to the relatively realistic tone they were taking. While this process was occurring, Reitman was also searching for a special effects studio for the film, eventually recruiting Richard Edlund in the same two-week span.[7][12]

Casting

Ramis said that early on it was decided that he was the brains of the Ghostbusters, Aykroyd was the heart, and Murray was the mouth.[8] Aykroyd drew inspiration from Hollywood archetypes, he said "Put [the characters of Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler] together, and you have the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man."[6] For Egon's appearance, Ramis found inspiration from the cover of a journal on abstract architecture, featuring a man wearing a three-piece tweed suit, wire-rim glasses, and his hair was stuck straight up. He took the character's first name from a Hungarian refugee he attended school with, and the surname from historian Oswald Spengler.[8] Price agreed to fund The Razor's Edge (1984) which Murray had co-written and was starring in, rationalizing that if it failed it would lose little money, but hoping the gesture would secure Murray's commitment to Ghostbusters.[6]

Ernie Hudson went through approximately five auditions for the character of Winston Zeddemore, and had to wait a month before learning he had the part.[6] According to Hudson, an earlier version of the script had his character, Winston, in a larger role with an elaborate backstory as an Air Force demolitions expert. Excited by the part, he agreed to the job for half his usual salary. The night before shooting began, he was given a new script with a greatly reduced role; Reitman told him the studio had wanted to expand Murray's role.[13] Aykroyd has said that he wanted Eddie Murphy for the role, having worked with him on Trading Places (1983), although Reitman refuted this.[3][14] Gregory Hines was also considered for the part.[15]

Julia Roberts auditioned for the role of Dana Barrett, but it was Sigourney Weaver who attracted the makers' attention. There was some resistance to her casting due to her generally serious roles in Alien (1979) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Weaver revealed her comedic background from Yale School of Drama, and began walking on all fours and howling like a dog.[7][8] It was Weaver's suggestion that Dana become possessed by the demonic dog, which Reitman said solved issues with the final act by giving the events personal stakes.[7] Weaver also changed the role from a model to a musician, saying she can be kind of strict, but "you know she has a soul because she plays the cello."[6]

John Candy was offered the role of Louis Tully. Reitman recalled that it was a few days before Candy called him back to say he did not understand the character. Candy suggested portraying Tully with a German accent and multiple German Shepherd but the makers felt there were already enough dogs in the film, and both they and Candy passed on the casting. Reitman was already aware of Rick Moranis from mutual work in Toronto and sent him the script. He called Reitman back about one-hour later and accepted the part, saying he understood the character completely.[7][8][11] Moranis developed many aspects of the character, including making him an accountant, and ad-libbed the lengthy speech at Tully's party.[11] Sandra Bernhard was offered and turned down the role of Ghostbusters secretary Janine Melnitz, which went to Annie Potts. As she arrived at her first day of filming, Reitman rushed Potts into the current scene. She quickly changed out of her street clothes and borrowed a pair of glasses worn by the set dresser. Her character ended up wearing the glasses throughout the film, provided to Potts by the dresser before each scene.[16][8]

William Atherton was chosen for the role of Walter Peck after appearing in the Broadway play Broadway alongside another of Aykroyd's SNL alumnus, Gilda Radner. The role was described to Atherton as akin to Margaret Dumont's role as a comedic foil to the Marx Brothers. Atherton said "It can’t be funny, and I don’t find [the Ghostbusters] in the least bit charming. I have to be outraged."[17] The role of the Sumerian god Gozer the Gozerian was originally intended for Paul Reubens, envisioned as a business-suited architect. Reubens passed on the idea, and it went to Yugoslavian actress Slavitza Jovan with the role changing to one inspired by the androgynous looks of Grace Jones and David Bowie.[16][18][19] Paddi Edwards was uncredited as the voice of Gozer, dubbing over Jovan's strong Slavic accent.[1][20]

Filming

Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8, the New York City firehouse used for the exterior of the Ghostbusters headquarters

John DeCuir, known for his elaborate sets, was hired as production designer and art director; he was in his 80's at the time.[21][11] Associate producer Michael C. Gross hired illustrators including Thom Enriquez, Bernie Wrightson, and Tanino Liberatore to produce storyboards and concept art.[21]

Principal photography began in New York City in the middle of October 1983, on an approximate $25—$30 million budget.[6][1] During the first day, Reitman personally brought Murray to the set, still unsure if he had read the script. On a separate day, the crew drove around the city filming spontaneous scenes at iconic locations, including Rockefeller Center where the actors were chased off by a real security guard; the scene appears in the film.[6] A scene was shot in Central Park West with extras chanting "Ghostbusters" before the name had been cleared, prompting associate producer Joe Medjuck to contact the studio urging them to secure the title.[8] As Reitman was working with comedians, he encouraged improvisation, adapting multiple takes to keep cast inserts that worked, but directing them back to the script.[11]

Filming on location in New York lasted for about six weeks, concluding just prior to Christmas that year.[7] Reitman was conscious that they had to complete the New York phase before they encountered inhospitable weather in December.[22] Choosing to shoot in New York City, at the time, was considered risky. In the early 1980s the city was seen as synonymous with fiscal disaster and violence, and Los Angeles (L.A.) was seen as the center of the entertainment industry. In a 2014 interview, Reitman said he chose New York because "I wanted the film to be... my New York movie".[6]

The building at 55 Central Park West served as the home of Weaver's character, and is the setting of the Ghostbusters' climactic battle with Gozer. The art department added extra floors and embellishments using matte paintings, models and digital effects to create the focal point of ghostly activity.[23][24][5] During shooting of finale scene at the building, city officials allowed the production to close down the adjacent streets during rush hour, impacting traffic across a large swath of the city. Gross remarked that from the top of the building, they could see traffic queuing all the way to Brooklyn. At various points, a police officer drew his gun on a taxi driver who refused orders, in a similar incident another officer pulled a driver through his limo window. When angry citizens asked Medjuck what was filming, he blamed Francis Ford Coppola filming The Cotton Club. Aykroyd encountered science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, a man he admired, who complained: "You guys are inconveniencing this building, it's just awful; I don't know how they got away with this!"[8] Directly next to 55 Central Park West is the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which is stepped on by the Marshmallow Man.[24]

Other filming locations included New York City Hall,[24] the New York Public Library, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Tavern on the Green (where Louis is cornered by the demonic dog), Columbus Circle, and Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 in the Tribeca neighborhood,[3] which was used as the Ghostbusters' headquarters.[1][25] Columbia University allowed its Havemeyer Hall to stand in for the fictional Weaver Hall, on the condition that the university not be identified by name. The Irving Trust Bank on Fifth Avenue served as the bank where Aykroyd's character takes out a third mortgage to provide the Ghostbusters' startup money.[26] Locals complained about the imposition on their neighborhoods. John DeCuir said: "They had one night to dress the street. When people went home early in the evening everything was normal, and when the little old ladies came out to walk their dogs in the morning, the whole street had erupted. Apparently, people complained to the New York Police Department and their switchboard lit up."[27]

Filming moved to L.A., resuming just after Christmas and before the New Year.[7] Despite its New York City setting, the majority of Ghostbusters was filmed on-location in L.A., or on sets at Burbank Studio, with location scouts searching for buildings that could replicate the interiors of buildings being filmed in New York.[22][1] Reitman tried to use the interior of Hook & Ladder 8, but they were unable to take over it for long enough due to it being an active fire station. Interior firehouse shots were instead taken at the decommissioned Fire House No. 23 in downtown L.A.. The building design, while common in New York, was a rarity in L.A.. An archival photograph of an active crew in Fire House No. 23 from 1915 was hung in the background of the Ghostbusters office, appearing in the film.[22]

As the film used practical effects, they needed skilled technicians that mainly resided in the city, and soundstages that, at the time, were not present in New York.[22] While filming took place in the main reading room of the New York Public Library (they could only film early and had to be out by 10am),[12] the basement library stacks were represented by the Los Angeles Central Library as Reitman said that they were interchangeable. The stacks were destroyed in a 1986 fire and the area now serves as space for storage and shipping.[22] The Millennium Biltmore Hotel stood in for the scenes set at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.[28] Principal photography concluded at the end of January 1984, after between 55 and 62 days of filming.[7][29]

Post-production

The short production schedule and looming June 8, 1984, release date meant that Reitman was editing the film while shooting it, and there was often time for only a small number of takes.[7][12] Reitman found filming an effects-laden film sometimes frustrating, as the special effects had to be storyboarded and filmed in advance, and there was no option to go back and film new scenes. As Gross described, "you storyboard in advance, that's like editing in advance. You've got a scene, they're going to approve that scene, and we're going to spend nine months doing that cut. There's no second takes, no outtakes, there's no coverage. You can cut stuff, but you can't add stuff. It made him so confined that it really bothered him."[29]

One of the deleted scenes involved a segment at "Fort Detmerring" where Aykroyd's Ray has a sexual encounter with a female ghost. The scene was intended to introduce a love interest for Aykroyd, but it was felt the scene was too extraneous to the fast-moving plot, and Reitman used the footage as a dream sequence during the mid-film montage.[30] Editor Sheldon Kahn sent Reitman black-and-white reels of sequences during filming, allowing him to make changes, but he considered that this also helped him understand how to better pace the film. Kahn completed the first full cut of the film three weeks after filming concluded.[7]

Music

The Ghostbusters score was composed by Elmer Bernstein and performed by the 72-person Hollywood Studio Symphony orchestra at The Village in West Los Angeles, California, orchestrated by Bernstein's son Peter and David Spear.[31][32] Bernstein previously scored several of Reitman's films including Animal House and Meatballs, and he was hired before filming had begun or some of the cast had been signed.[32] Reitman wanted a grounded, realistic score, as he did not want the music to tell the audience when something was funny.[29] Bernstein used an ondes Martenot (effectively a keyboard equivalent of a theremin) to produce the "eerie" effect. Bernstein had to import a musician from England to play it due to the rarity of trained performers. He also used three Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.[32][31] Bernstein described Ghostbusters as the most difficult score he had done in a 1985 interview, finding it difficult to balance the varying comedic and serious tones of the film. He created an "antic" theme for the Ghostbusters he described as "cute, without being really way out." He found the later parts of the film easier to score, aiming to make it sound "awesome and mystical".[32]

Reitman and Bernstein discussed early on that Ghostbusters would also feature popular music at specific points as well as Bernstein's original score, including "Magic" by Mick Smiley (played during the scene in which the ghosts are released from the Ghostbusters headquarters. Bernstein's main theme for the Ghostbusters was itself replace by Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters".[31][32] Bernstein personally disliked the use of these songs, particularly "Magic", but said "it’s very hard to argue with something like ["Ghostbusters"], when it is up in the top ten on the charts."[32]

Music was required for a montage in the middle of the film, and "I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis and the News was used as a temporary placeholder due to its appropriate tempo. Reitman was later introduced to Parker Jr. who developed "Ghostbusters" with a similar riff to match the montage.[8] There were approximately 50–60 different theme songs developed for Ghostbusters by different artists before Parker Jr.s involvement though none were deemed suitable.[33][34] Lewis was approached to compose the film's theme but was already committed to work on Back to the Future (1984).[1]

Design

During the film's thirteen-month production, all the major special effects studios were working on other films, and the biggest, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), had been booked for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and for Return of the Jedi (1983). The remaining studios were too small to work on the approximately 630 individual effects shots. At the same time, special effects cinematographer Richard Edlund was intending to leave ILM and start his own business. Reitman convinced Columbia to collaborate with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which also needed an effects studio, to advance Edlund $5 million to start his own company Boss Film Studios and purchase the necessary equipment.[7][6] According to Edlund, much of the setup time was taken by lawyers finalizing the contract; afterward, only ten months remained to build the effects studio, shoot their scenes, and composite the images.[6] Their techniques for the film included miniatures, puppetry, stop-motion, rotoscoping, and cell animation. The Boss Film Studios team were split to complete work on Ghostbusters and MGM's science-fiction film 2010.[1] The $5 million effects budget overran by $700,000.[12] The strict filming schedule meant that the majority of effects shots were done in one take.[29]

Creature effects

Special effects artist Steve Johnson sculpted the Library Ghost and the gluttonous, slimy, green ghost then known only as the "Onion Head ghost" on set due to the puppets unpleasant smell.[9][35] Now commonly known as "Slimer", it was not known as such until after the film's release when given a name in 1986's The Real Ghostbusters.[1] The Slimer design took six months to develop and went through many variations, which Johnson blamed on executive interference through micromanagement, constant adjustments and conflicting notes on how to modify each detail. He said "In the beginning they asked for a 'smile with arms' but before I knew it... 'give him 13% more pathos, put ears on him, take his ears off, less pathos, more pathos, make his nose bigger, now his nose is too big, make his nose smaller... Make him more cartoony, make him less cartoony".[35] The day prior to his deadline, Johnson learned that Aykroyd and Ramis had wanted Slimer to homage Belushi's likeness. With that information and a series of Belushi headshots, Johnson took at least three grams of cocaine and believed that Belushi's ghost was visiting him to provide encouragement. It was during this episode that he sculpted the final Slimer design that appears in the film.[35] Aykroyd admitted that the character was inspired by Belushi, particularly his body.[6] Ramis said that the comparison was not malicious, explaining that Belushi was the person most likely trip over a coffee table and knock a bookcase over.[8] Slimer was performed by Mark Wilson, who wore a foam rubber suit reinforced with spandex. Mechanical designers used cables to operate the character's face. Slimer's sequences were filmed at a rate of eight frames per second, while the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was filmed at a rate of 72 frames per second.[1]

Aykroyd tasked his friend with designing the Marshmallow Man, asking for a combination of the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Doughboy in a sailor hat.[8] The Marshmallow Man was fabricated and portrayed by actor and special effects artist Bill Bryan, who modeled his walk on Godzilla. The foam suits each cost between $25,000 and $30,000, and Bryan had to have a separate air supply due to the foam toxicity. There were three different heads for the suit, built from foam and fiberglass, with different expressions and movements that were controlled by cable mechanisms. The costume was filmed against scale models to finish the effect. The effects team were only able to find a particular model of a police car at the correct scale, and so bought several and modified them to represent different vehicles. The water from a burst hydrant hit by a remote-controlled car was actually sand as the water did not scale down.[12][36][37] The "marshmallow" that rains down on the crowd after it is destroyed was shaving cream. After seeing the intended 150 pounds (68 kg) of shaving cream to be used, Atherton insisted on testing it. The weight knocked a stuntman down, and they ended up using only 75 pounds (34 kg). The cream acted as a skin irritant after hours of filming, giving some of the cast rashes.[8]

The original Library Ghost puppet was considered too scary for younger audiences, and was repurposed for use in Fright Night (1985).[2] The Library catalog scene was accomplished live within three takes, with crew blowing air through copper pipes to blow the cards into the air, which had to be collected and reassembled for each take. Reitman used a multi-camera setup to focus on the librarian and the cards flying around her and a wider overall shot,[7][12] The floating books were simply hung on string.[12] For the scene in which Dana is pinned to her chair by demonic hands before a doorway beaming with light, Reitman said he was influenced by Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). A rubber door was used to allow distortion as if something was trying to come through it, while grips concealed in a trapdoor beneath the chair, burst through it while wearing demonic dog-leg gloves.[12] Ghost puppets were built by Boss Films, which also handled compositing of special effects shots.[38] Made before the advent of CGI, any non-puppet ghosts had to be animated, taking up to three weeks to create a second of footage.[12] For Gozer, Slavitza Jovan wore red contacts that caused her a large amount of pain and wore a harness to move around the set.[5]

Technology and equipment

Cadillac station wagon "Ectomobile"

The "proton packs", the ghost-hunting weapons wielded by the Ghostbusters, were designed by design consultant Stephen Dane, who "went home and got foam pieces and just threw a bunch of stuff together to get the look. It was highly machined but it had to look off-the-shelf and military surplus." The fiberglass props were created by special effects supervisor Chuck Gaspar, based on Dane's design. Gaspar used rubber molds to create identical fiberglass shells, attached them to aluminum back plates and Army surplus All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment frames. Each pack weighed about 30 pounds (14 kg), or nearly 50 pounds (23 kg) with the batteries installed, and strained the actors' backs during the long shoots. Lightweight packs made of foam rubber were used for stunt work.[39][12] The neutrino wand had a flashbulb at the tip, giving animators an original point for the energy stream.[12] The PKE meter prop was built using an Iona SP-1 handheld shoe polisher as a base, to which lights and electronics were affixed.[40] All the technology was designed to not be overly fancy or sleek, emphasizing the characters scientific backgrounds combined with the homemade nature of their equipment.[22]

The Ghostbusters' vehicle, the Ectomobile, was in the first draft of Aykroyd's script, and visualized through concept drawings by John Daveikis. Early versions were jet black, and had fantastic features such as the ability to dematerialize and evade police pursuit. The vehicle was a modified 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor with an aftermarket ambulance conversion. Dane created its high-tech roof array in Hollywood with objects including a directional antenna, an air-conditioning unit, storage boxes and a radome. Because of its size, the roof rack was shipped to Manhattan via airplane, while the car was transported to the East Coast via train. Sound designer Richard Beggs created the distinctive siren from a recording of a leopard snarl, cut and played backward.[41] The concept for the vehicle was that it would be a modified hearse; according to Akyroyd, the actual vehicle was "an ambulance that we converted to a hearse and then converted to an ambulance".[42]

Sets

The fictional rooftop of 55 Central Park West was constructed at Stage 12 on the Burbank Studios lot. It was one of the largest constructed sets in film history and was surrounded by a 360-degree cyclorama painting. The lighting used throughout the painting consumed enough power that when in use, the rest of the studio was shut down, and an additional four generators were added on top.[7][22][43] Small models such as planes were hung on string to animate the backdrop.[7] The set was built three stories off the ground allowing for filming from low angles.[12] The script did not specify from where Gozer would appear, and De Cuir painted the top of Dana's building with large, crystal doors that opened, which was written into the script.[11] The first three floors and street-front at Dana's building were recreated on sets for filming, including performing the earthquake scene.[5] For the scene in which Dana's apartment explodes outwards, Weaver was stood in place as the practical effect was utilized.[12] Similarly, the scene of Weaver rotating in the air was done on set using a body-cast and mechanical arm concealed in the curtains, a trick Reitman learned working with magician Doug Henning.[5]

The production used fake walls laced with pyrotechnics in the hotel to practically create the damage of the Ghostbusters proton packs.[22] The climactic earthquake scene was shot in Manhattan, enhanced with supplemental work in Los Angeles. While the shot of the Ghostbusters and other New Yorkers falling down was filmed on location, the shots of the street cracking were achieved with hydraulics used on a Los Angeles sound stage.[44]

Release

Pre-release and marketing

The film was first screened for test audiences on February 3, 1984, with unfinished effects shots to determine if the comedy worked. Even at this point, Reitman was still concerned that audiences would not react well to the Marshmallow Man due to its deviation from the realistic take in the rest of the film.[11] Reitman recalled that approximately 200 people were recruited off the streets to view the film without any special effects in a theater on the Burbank lot. It was during the opening librarian scene that Reitman knew the film worked, as audiences reacted with fear, laughs, and applause as the Librarian Ghost transformed from a lady into a monster.[11] The fateful Marshmallow Scene was met with a similar reaction, and Reitman knew that he would not have to reshoot any scenes.[7][11] The screening for fellow industry members fared less well. Price recalled laughing as the rest of the audience sat deadpan, rationalizing that an industry audience wants failure. Murray and Aykroyd's then-agent Michael Ovitz recalled an executive telling him "Don’t worry: we all make mistakes", while Roberto Goizueta, then-Chairman of Columbia's parent, The Coca-Cola Company, said "Gee, we're going to lose our shirts".[6][45]

A viral campaign was initiated by the studio featuring the "No ghosts" logo, which created popularity even though the people were yet unaware of the film's title or its stars.[1] A theatrical trailer for the film contained a functional toll-free telephone number with a message by Murray and Aykroyd waiting for the 1,000 callers per hour it received over a six-week period.[9] Columbia spent approximately $10 million on marketing, including $2.25 million on prints, $1 million on promotional materials and $7 million on advertising and miscellaneous costs including a $150,000 premiere for a hospital and the hotel costs for the press.[46]

Box office

The premiere of Ghostbusters took place on June 7, 1984 at the Avco Cinema in Westwood, California.[47] The film received a wide released on June 8, 1984, in 1,339 theaters. During its opening weekend in North America, the film earned $13.6 million—an average of $10,040 per theater—finishing as the number one film of the weekend, ahead of horror comedy Gremlins ($12.5 million) released the same weekend, and the action adventure film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ($12 million) which was in its third week of release.[48][49] The gross increased to $23.1 million during its first week, proving a hit for the studio, which had eluded it since 1982's Tootsie (in which Murray also appeared),[50] and broke the studios own record at the time (set by Tootsie).[45][51][1] The film remained number 1 for seven consecutive weeks, grossing $146.5 million, before being ousted by musician Prince's film Purple Rain in early August, positioning it as the second highest-grossing film of the year, behind only Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[52][53][54]

The film briefly regained the number 1 spot the following week before spending the following five weeks at number 2, initially behind Red Dawn and then the thriller Tightrope.[55][56][57] It was again the number 1 film for one week in mid-September and ultimately remained in the top 3 grossing films for sixteen straight weeks before beginning a gradual decline, leaving the top ten grossing films by late October. It left cinemas in early January 1985 after thirty weeks.[51][58] Ghostbusters had quickly become a hit, surpassing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as the top-grossing film of that summer, and by the time it left cinemas it had earned $229.2 million, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1984, about $5 million behind Eddie Murphy's action comedy Beverly Hills Cop ($234.8 million) which released in mid-December.[59][11] Its box office gross made it the highest-grossing comedy film of its time, replacing Animal House, a title it held for six months before being replaced by Beverly Hills Cop.[7][59][58]

Columbia negotiated 50% of the box-office revenues or 90% of gross after expenses, depending on which would be higher. Since the latter was the case, the studio received a 73% share of the box office profit, an estimated $128 million figure.[46] The main cast members each received percentages of the gross profits or net participation of the film.[1] Detailed box office figures are not available for territories outside of North America, but it is estimated to have earned approximately $53 million, bringing Ghostbusters' worldwide total to $282.2 million.[48] That year saw the release of several films that would become considered iconic of the era, including Gremlins, The Karate Kid, The Terminator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Romancing the Stone, and The NeverEnding Story, and it was the first time in box office history that four films grossed over $100 million, including Ghostbusters.[60]

Ghostbusters received a re-release in North America in August 1985, earning a further $9.4 million over five weeks, raising the film's theatrical gross to $238.6 million, surpassing Beverly Hills Cop to become the most successful comedy of the 1980s.[61][62][59] A restored and remastered version of the film was released to celebrate Ghostbusters' 30th anniversary, playing for three weeks beginning in August 2014, at 700 cinemas across North America. The film grossed an additional $3.5 million, bringing the theatrical total to $242.2 million.[63][64] The film has also received very limited re-releases for special events and anniversaries.[65][66] Adjusted for inflation, its North American lifetime total is $564 million. According to box office tracker Box Office Mojo's own calculations, based on estimated admissions and average ticket prices in 2019, Ghostbusters has sold the equivalent of $641.2 million worth of tickets, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time.[67]

Critical response

You never expect that big a hit. But there was a great sense that we were doing something special right from the beginning.

—Ivan Reitman in 2014 on the reception of Ghostbusters[8]

Ghostbusters received positive reviews.[1] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that it was "an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy", and gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four. Ebert praised the special effects and their natural inclusion into the story, saying that they are placed at the service of the intelligent characters. He also cited Ghostbusters as a rare mainstream film with many quotable lines.[68] Newsweek's David Ansen enjoyed the film, describing it as a teamwork project where everyone works "toward the same goal of relaxed insanity"; he called the film a "wonderful summer nonsense".[69] Time's Richard Schickel also praised the humor, which he felt was successful despite the abundance of special effects and dark themes such as Armageddon. He praised the three lead actors: he complimented Aykroyd and Ramis, who also gave room to their co-star Bill Murray. Schickel considered Murray's character Peter Venkman a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop fully his patented comic character".[70] Deseret News' Christopher Hicks praised Reitman's improved directing skills, as well as the crew for avoiding vulgarity found in their previous films, Caddyshack and Stripes. He found that they instead reached for more creative humor and genuine thrills. Hicks singled out Murray who, according to him, "has never been better than he is here". Hicks noted that Murray, Ramis and Aykroyd "wanted to be like the Marx brothers of the 80s". He complained at the finale, claiming it to have lost its sense of fun and to be "overblown", but found that the film compensates this since it "has ghosts like you've never seen".[71]

Pauline Kael had problems with the chemistry among the three lead actors. She praised Murray, but felt that other actors did not have much material to contribute to the story; she concluded, "Murray's lines fall on dead air."[72] Contrary to Ebert's and Schickel's review, Janet Maslin in The New York Times was of the opinion that special effects overshadowed the humor. She liked the idea of Murray in an Exorcist-like horror parody, but thought the concept was not fully developed. She deemed the jokes, the characters and the story weak. For Maslin, Ghostbusters worked during the small ghost-catching scenes, but went out of hand during the doomsday scenario finale.[73]

Reviewers at AllMusic awarded both the Original Soundtrack Album and the Original Motion Picture Score 4 out of 5 stars. Evan Cater describes the Original Soundtrack Album as "a very disjointed, schizophrenic listen" that "does very little to conjure memories of the film". However, he cited the title track, Mick Smiley's "Magic", and the two inclusions from Elmer Bernstein's score as exceptions.[74] Jason Ankeny described the Original Motion Picture Score as "epic in both sound and scale", writing that it "ranks among Bernstein's most dazzling and entertaining efforts, evoking the widescreen wonder of its source material ... his melodies beautifully complement the wit and creativity of the onscreen narrative".[75]

Accolades

Ghostbusters was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1995: Best Original Song for "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr. (losing to Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from The Woman in Red), and Best Visual Effects for John Bruno, Richard Edlund, Chuck Gaspar and Mark Vargo (losing to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).[76][10]

That same year, the film was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (losing to Romancing the Stone),[77] Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Murray (losing to Dudley Moore in Micki & Maude),[78] and Best Original Song for Parker Jr., (losing again to "I Just Called to Say I Love You").[79] "Ghostbusters" went on to win the BAFTA Award for Best Original Song, and Edlund was nominated for Special Visual Effects (losing again to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).[80] It won Best Fantasy Film at the 12th Saturn Awards.[81]

Post-release

Aftermath

Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on August 11, 1984, two months after the film's release, and stayed there for three weeks. It spent a total of 21 weeks on the charts.[33][82] The theme is estimated to have added $20 million to the film's box office gross.[83] Directed by Reitman, the "Ghostbusters" music video was number 1 on MTV, and features cameos by celebrities including Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Melissa Gilbert, Ollie E. Brown, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr. None of the actors were paid for their involvement, taking part as a favor to Reitman.[1][33][34] Shortly after the film's release, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr, for plagiarism, alleging that he had copied the melody from Lewis' 1983 song "I Want a New Drug".[1][34] The case was settled out of court in 1985, for an undisclosed sum and a confidentiality agreement that prohibited discussing the case. According to Parker, Jr. there were several lawsuits at the time, because "when you sell that many records, I think everybody wants to say that they wrote the song."[34][8] Parker, Jr. later sued Lewis for breaching the confidentiality agreement in a 2001 episode of VH1's Behind the Music, where he reasserted that Parker, Jr. stole the song. Regarding his case against Lewis, Parker, Jr. said "I got a lot of money out of that."[34]

Murray left acting for four years following the release of Ghostbusters. He described the film's success as a phenomenon that would forever be his biggest accomplishment and, compounded by the failure of his personal project The Razor's Edge (1984), he felt "radioactive" and chose to avoid making movies until 1988 in the Christmas comedy film Scrooged.[84][85] Murray was paid $6 million to star in that film, as his multi-year absence had increased his audience draw and therefore his fee. time, Linson said that aside from Eddie Murphy, Murray's was the only other name that could draw $10 million of tickets in the opening three to four days.[86] That film even traded on Ghostbusters' popularity in its marketing, using the tagline that Murray was "back among the ghosts".[87]

Hudson for his part looked on the film fondly and with lament. He regretted the marginalization of his character from the original script, as many of Winston's major scenes were passed to Murray. He felt that Ghostbusters did not improve his career as he had hoped or been promised and that in some cases it had actually cost him roles. Hudson turned to television after Ghostbusters appearing in several shows, as he considered that his experience had taught him how to adjust when things did not go his way. In a 2014 interview, Hudson said "I love the character and he's got some great lines, but I felt the guy was just kind of there. I love the movie, I love the guys. I’m very thankful to Ivan for casting me. I’m very thankful that fans appreciate the Winston character. But it’s always been very frustrating—kind of a love/hate thing, I guess."[13]

Home media

Ghostbusters was released on VHS in October 1985, in competition with the home release of Beverly Hills Cop. The latter's studio, Paramount, scheduled the film for release only the day before Ghostbusters. In response, Columbia moved Ghostbusters' release a week earlier. Removed from the competition, Ghosbusters was predicted to sell well, though it was expected that the equally popular Beverly Hills Cop would do better, given its $29.95 price compared to Ghostbusters $79.95. Columbia developed a $1 million ad campaign to promote the VHS release.[88] It was the tenth bestselling VHS during its launch week, and the purchase of rights to manufacture and sell cassettes was estimated to have made a further $20 million for Columbia.[89][90] A then-record 410,000 initial VHS units were ordered of the film (beaten a few months later by Rambo: First Blood Part II's 425,000 unit order), and by February 1986, it was estimated to have sold 400,000 copies and earned $32 million in revenue, making it the third best-selling VHS of 1985, behind Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (425,000 units, $12.7 million) and Beverly Hills Cop (1.4 million units sold, $41.9 million).[91]

The film was released in 1989 on LaserDisc, a format recently beginning a resurgence in popularity. Ghostbusters was released in a one-disc CLV version, and a two-disc special edition CAV version featuring deleted scenes, a split-screen demonstration of the film's effects, the screenplay, and other special features. In a 1999 interview for the first release of the film on DVD, Reitman admitted that he had not been involved in the LaserDisc version and had been embarrassed by the visual changes that "pumped up the light level so much you saw all the matte lines", highlighting flaws in the special effects.[92][93][94] Ghostbusters was also the first full-length film to be released on a USB Flash Drive when PNY Technologies did so in 2008.[95]

Blu-ray disc editions were released to celebrate the film's 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversaries in 2009, 2014, and 2019 respectively, featuring a remastered 4K resolution video quality, deleted scenes, alternate takes, fan interviews and commentaries by crewmembers including Aykroyd, Ramis, Reitman, and Medjuck. The 35th-anniversary version came in a limited edition steel book cover and contained unseen footage including the deleted "Fort Detmerring" scene.[96][97] A remaster of Bernstein's score was also released in June 2019, on CD, digital, and vinyl formats. It includes four unreleased tracks and commentary by Bernstein's son Peter.[98][99][96][97]

Legacy

Film fans dressed as Ghostbusters in 2011

Following its release, Ghostbusters was considered a phenomenon and highly influential.[100][6] It is considered one of the first blockbusters and is credited with refining the term to effectively create a new genre that mixed comedy, science fiction, horror, and thrills. Following the unexpected success of Star Wars (1977) led to heavy demand for merchandise, Ghostbusters' helped evidence that it was possible for other films to launch spin-offs, helping establish a business model in film that has since become a status quo. Once Ghostbuster's popularity was clear, the studio aggressively cultivated its profile, translating it into merchandising and other media such as television, extending the profitability lifetime long after the film had left theaters.[100]

The "Ghostbusters" song was a hit, Halloween of 1984 was dominated by children in Ghostbusters outfits, Entertainment industry observers credit Ghostbusters, alongside Saturday Night Live with reversing the industry's perception of New York City, which had a negative perception in the early 1980s.[6][101] Weaver said: "I think it was a love letter to New York and New Yorkers. Central Park West, and Tavern on the Green, and the horses in the park, and the doorman saying, "Someone brought a cougar to a party" – that's so New York. When we come down covered with marshmallow, and there are these crowds of New Yorkers of all types and descriptions cheering for us as a New York–it was one of the most moving things I can remember."[27] It is similarly credited with helping diminish the divide between television and film actors, as Ovitz said that television actors were never considered for anything but small roles prior.[6][101]

Lasting reception

Contemporary review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes offers a 97% approval rating from 71critics—an average rating of 8.14/10, which provides the consensus, "an infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns".[102] The film also has a score of 71 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 8 critical reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[103]

Filmsite[104] and Film.com[105] included it among the best films of 1984. Writing for the film's 30th anniversary, Time Out's Tom Huddleston awarded Ghostbusters five out of five, praising Reitman's direction, Murray's performance, the script, the special effects, and the soundtrack, which he said felt fresh. Huddleston described the film as a "cavalcade of pure joy".[106]

The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters No. 28 on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list.[107] The film also appeared on several lists of the best comedy films, by outlets including Bravo (2006),[108] Entertainment Weekly (2008),[109] Rotten Tomatoes,[110] and IGN (2018).[111]

In 2009, National Review ranked Ghostbusters No. 10 on its "25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years" list, on the grounds that the Environmental Protection Agency is portrayed as the villain and "the solution to a public menace comes from the private sector".[112] In November 2015, the film was ranked the 14th funniest screenplay by the Writers Guild of America in its list of 101 Funniest Screenplays.[113] Entertainment Weekly and IGN named it the eight and twentieth best Summer Blockbuster respectively.[58][114] The Hollywood Reporter's entertainment-industry voted ranking named it number 77 on its list of the Top 100 Films of all time.[115]

Ghostbusters has appeared on several lists of the top films of the 1980s, including number 5 by Time Out,[116] number 6 by ShortList,[117] number 15 by Complex,[118] and number 31 by Empire.[119]

Cultural impact

The film had a significant impact on popular culture and is considered a highly influential film, credited with inveting the special-effects driven comedy.[100][120][6] Its basic premise of a particular genre mixed with comedy, and a team combating an otherworldly threat has been replicated to varying degrees of success since in films like Men In Black (1997), Evolution (2001), The Watch (2012), R.I.P.D. (2013), and Pixels (2015).[87][121][122] In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Reitman responded: "It’s an honor to know that a movie that begins with a ghost in a library now has a spot on the shelves of the Library of Congress."[123]

In 1984, the Ghostbusters phenomenon was referenced across dozens of advertisements for everything from airlines to dentistry and real estate. The "-busters" suffix became a common term used at both local and national stages, being applied to topics like the United States national budget ("budgetbusters"), agriculture ("cropbusters"), B-52s ("nukebusters") sanitation ("litterbusters"), or Pan American Airlines ("pricebusters"). Similarly, the "no ghosts" logo was modified to protest political candidates like Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale to Mickey Mouse by striking Disney workers.[124] Other contributions to the cultural lexicon included Murray's adlib of "this chick is toast" against Gozer to imply that she was finished or doomed over the scripted line of "I'm gonna turn this guy into toast". This is thought to be the first historical usage of "toast" as a slang term.[125]

According to a representative of the New York Public Library, people dressed as the Ghostbusters occasionally burst into the main reading room.[6] The 2016 crowdfunded documentary Ghostheads follows various fans of the series and details the impact it has had on their lives, interspersed with interviews from crew including Aykroyd, Reitman, and Weaver.[126][127] In 2017, a newly discovered fossil of ankylosaur was named Zuul crurivastator after Gozer's minion Zuul.[128][129]

Empire's reader-voted list of the 100 Greatest Movies placed the film as number 68.[130] In 2014, Rolling Stone readers voted Ghostbusters the ninth greatest film of the 1980s.[131] Describing why Ghostbusters' popularity has endured, Reitman said "kids are all worried about death and... those kinds of ghost-like things. By watching Ghostbusters, there’s a sense that you can control this, that you can mitigate it somehow and it doesn’t have to be that frightening. It became this movie that parents liked to bring their kids to — they could appreciate it on different levels but still watch it together."[11]

Ghostbusters was turned into a special-effects laden stage show at Universal Studios Florida, that ran from 1990 to 1996, which was based mainly on the film's finale battle with Gozer. The 2019 Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida will host a haunted maze attraction featuring locations, characters, and ghosts from the film.[132][120]

Merchandise

Merchandising from a film was still a relatively new prospect at the time, but the success of the concept with Star Wars (which had sold $2.6 billion in merchandise by 1989) saw other studios attempt to replicate it.[133] Ghostbusters was also able to generate further revenue by applying the popular logo to various products.[100] Ghostbusters merchandise comprises soundtrack albums, action figures, books, Halloween costumes, various LEGO sets including the Ecto-mobile and Firehouse,[134] and lunch boxes, breakfast cereals.[58] A limited-edition citrus-flavored Hi-C's Ecto Cooler drink was one of the more popular items. Released in 1987, its success led to it continuing to be sold up to 2001.[134] Merchandise from the film initially did not sell well until the release of the 1986 animated spin-off The Real Ghostbusters, which helped generate up to $200 million in 1988.[133] The unexpected success of the film meant that Columbia themselves did not have a comprehensive merchandising plan in place, relying instead largely on licensing out the property. This meant that much of the franchise expansion came as a result of interest in merchandising the cartoon than the film.[135]

A 1984 video game of the same name was released alongside the film and was considered a success.[136] The film received two novelizations, the first titled Ghostbusters by Larry Milne was released alongside the film. The second, Ghostbusters: The Supernatural Spectacular by Richard Mueller, was released in 1985, and expanded on character backstories.[2] "Making Ghostbusters", an annotated script by Ramis, was released in 1985.[6]

Slimer became an iconic character, appearing in video games, toys, cartoons, sequels, toothpaste, and even juice boxes.[35]

Sequels and spin-offs

The film's success spawned the Ghostbusters franchise, comprising animated television shows, film sequels, reboots, video games, music, and a wide variety of merchandise.[137] The film was initially followed by the 1986 animated television series The Real Ghostbusters (later renamed Slimer! and The Real Ghostbusters), that ran for 140 episodes over 7 seasons across 6 years, and itself spawned a spin-off Slimer-centric sub-series, comic books, and merchandise, and was followed by a sequel series in 1997's Extreme Ghostbusters.[137][138] A film sequel, Ghostbusters II, was released in 1989. The film earned a then-record breaking non-holiday opening weekend gross of $29 million and one day opening gross of $10 million, with an estimated 2 million more people watching the film during its opening weekend than Ghostbusters, but it ultimately earned less than the original's total gross and received a less positive critical reception.[139][140]

Despite the sequel's relative failure, the name recognition and popularity of the actors and their characters meant a third film was still pursued.[140] The concept failed to progress for many years as Murray was reluctant to participate. In a 2009 interview, he said "We did a sequel and it was sort of rather unsatisfying for me, because the first one to me was... the real thing. and the sequel... They’d written a whole different movie than the one [initially discussed]. And the special-effects guys got it and got their hands on it. And it was just not the same movie. There were a few great scenes in it, but it wasn’t the same movie. So there’s never been an interest in a third Ghostbusters, because the second one was disappointing... for me, anyway.".[141] In the years that followed, Aykroyd continued his attempts to develop a sequel throughout the 1990s to the early 2010s.[140] In 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released, featuring story consulting by Ramis and Aykroyd, and the likenesses and voice acting of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Potts, and Atherton. Set two years after Ghostbusters II, the story follows the Ghostbusters training a new recruit (the player) to combat a ghostly threat related to Gozer. The game was well-received, earning award nominations for its storytelling. Aykroyd has referred to the game as being "essentially the third movie".[142][140]

Following Ramis' death in 2014, Reitman chose to no longer serve as director for a potential third film.[143][144] This allowed Sony to bring in director Paul Feig who chose to reboot the series with the female-led Ghostbusters: Answer the Call in July 2016, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as the titular Ghostbusters.[143][145] Before its release, the film was beset by controversies, and on release it became considered a box office bomb with mixed reviews.[146][147][148][149] A second, direct sequel to the original two films was announced in January 2019, with Reitman's son Jason serving as director. Written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan, the sequel is scheduled for a 2020 release.[150]

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Bibliography



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