Ghostbusters

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Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters cover.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Produced by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd
Harold Ramis
Starring Bill Murray
Dan Aykroyd
Sigourney Weaver
Harold Ramis
Rick Moranis
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography László Kovács
Editing by David E. Blewitt
Sheldon Kahn
Studio Black Rhino
Delphi Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 7, 1984 (1984-06-07) (Westwood, California)
  • June 8, 1984 (1984-06-08)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $291,632,124[1]

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American supernatural comedy film directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City who start a ghost-catching business. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis co-star as a potential client and her neighbor. The Ghostbusters business booms after initial skepticism, but when an uptown high-rise apartment building becomes the focal point of spirit activity linked to the ancient god Gozer, it threatens to overwhelm the team and the entire world.

Originally intended by Aykroyd as a project for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi, the film had a very different story during initial drafts. Aykroyd's vision of "Ghostmashers" traveling through time, space and other dimensions to fight large ghosts was deemed financially impractical by Reitman. Based on the director's suggestions, Aykroyd and Ramis finalized the screenplay from May–June 1982. They had written roles specifically for Belushi, John Candy and Eddie Murphy, but were forced to change the script after Belushi died and the latter two actors would not commit to the film.

Ghostbusters was released in the United States on June 8, 1984. It was a critical and commercial success, receiving a positive response from critics and audiences and grossing US$238 million in the United States[2] and more than $291 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Oscars at the 57th Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song (for the eponymous theme song), but lost them to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Woman in Red respectively. The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters 28th in its AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list of film comedies. The film launched the Ghostbusters media franchise, which includes a 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II; two animated television series, The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters; and several video games.

Plot[edit]

Misfit parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are called to the New York Public Library after a series of apparent paranormal activities, where they encounter the ghost of a dead librarian, but are frightened away when she transforms into a horrifying monster.

After losing their jobs at Columbia University, the trio establish a paranormal extermination/investigations service known as "Ghostbusters". They develop high-tech equipment capable of capturing ghosts and open their business in a disused, run-down firehouse. At the Sedgewick Hotel, they capture their first ghost and deposit it in a specially built "containment unit" in the firehouse basement. Paranormal activity then begins to increase in New York City. The Ghostbusters become celebrities by containing it, but are increasingly overworked and hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).

The Ghostbusters are retained by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), whose apartment is haunted by a demonic spirit, Zuul, a demigod worshipped as a servant to Gozer the Gozerian, a Sumerian shape-shifting god of destruction. Venkman takes a particular interest in the case, and competes with Dana's neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), for her affection. As the Ghostbusters investigate, Dana is possessed by Zuul, which declares itself the "Gatekeeper", and Louis by a similar demon called Vinz Clortho, the "Keymaster". Both demons speak of the coming of the destructive Gozer, and the Ghostbusters take steps to keep the two apart. Thereafter, the Ghostbusters' office is visited by Walter Peck (William Atherton), a lawyer representing the EPA. He has the team arrested for operating unlicensed waste handlers and orders their ghost containment system to be deactivated, causing an explosion that releases hundreds of captured ghosts. Freed from the Ghostbusters' custody, Louis/Vinz advances toward Dana/Zuul's apartment while the escaped ghosts wreak havoc throughout the city.

Consulting blueprints of Dana's apartment building, the Ghostbusters learn that mad doctor and cult leader Ivo Shandor, claiming humanity was too sick to survive 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 to combat the paranormal activity, but after reaching the roof of Dana's building, they are unable to prevent the arrival of Gozer, who initially appears as a woman (Slavitza Jovan). Briefly subdued by the team, Gozer disappears, but her voice echoes that the "destructor" will follow, taking a form chosen by the team. Stantz inadvertently recalls a beloved corporate mascot from his childhood—"something that could never, ever possibly destroy us"—whereupon the destructor arrives in the form of a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and begins attacking the city. To defeat it, the team combine the energy streams of their proton packs (which Egon advised against earlier) and fire them against Gozer's portal to our world. The resulting explosion defeats Gozer/The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and frees Dana and Louis from their possessor demons. As hundreds of New Yorkers wipe themselves of marshmallow goo, the Ghostbusters are welcomed on the street as heroes.

Cast[edit]

The cast also includes Alice Drummond as a librarian, Jennifer Runyon as an ESP volunteer, Reginald VelJohnson as a jail guard. Director Ivan Reitman provides the voices of Zuul and Slimer. Roger Grimsby, Larry King, Joe Franklin, and Casey Kasem make cameo appearances.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The New York City firehouse that served as the exterior for the Ghostbusters' headquarters in the film

The movie's concept was inspired by Aykroyd's fascination with the paranormal. Aykroyd conceived it as a vehicle for himself and his friend and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi.[3] The original story, as written by Aykroyd, was very different from what was eventually filmed. In the original version, a group of "Ghostsmashers" traveled through time, space, and other dimensions combating huge ghosts (of which the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was one of many). They wore SWAT-like outfits and used wands instead of proton packs to fight the ghosts. (Original storyboards show them wearing riotsquad-type helmets with movable transparent visors.)[4] In addition to a similar title, the movie shares the premise of professional "exterminators" on a paranormal mission with The Bowery Boys slapstick comedy Spook Busters (1946, directed by William Beaudine).

Aykroyd pitched his story to director/producer Ivan Reitman, who liked the basic idea but immediately saw the budgetary impracticality of Aykroyd's first draft.[5] At Reitman's suggestion, Aykroyd and Ramis gave the story a major overhaul, hammering out the final screenplay during a three-week stay in a Martha's Vineyard bomb shelter in May–June 1982.[6] Aykroyd and Ramis initially wrote roles especially for Belushi, Eddie Murphy and John Candy. However, Belushi died before the screenplay was completed, and neither Murphy nor Candy would commit to the project, so Aykroyd and Ramis made further changes that were reflected in the film's production.[5]

In addition to Aykroyd's high-concept basic premise, and Ramis' skill at grounding the fantastic elements with a realistic setting, the film benefits from Bill Murray's semi-improvisational performance as Peter Venkman, the character initially intended for Belushi.[5][6]

For the test screening of Ghostbusters, half of the ghost effects were missing, not yet having been completed by the production team.[5] The audience response was still enthusiastic, and the ghost elements were completed for the official theatrical release shortly thereafter.[5]

Casting[edit]

Louis Tully was originally conceived as a conservative man in a business suit, to be played by comedian Candy; but when Candy was unable to commit to the role, he was replaced by Rick Moranis, who portrayed Louis as a geek.[5] Gozer was originally to appear in the form of Ivo Shandor, a slender, unremarkable man in a suit, played by Paul Reubens;[7] but the role was played by Yugoslav model Slavitza Jovan. The demonic voice of Gozer was provided by Paddi Edwards.

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984 in 1,339 theaters. It grossed $13.6 million on its opening weekend[8] and $23 million in its first week, setting studio records at the time.[9] The film was number one at the box office for five consecutive weeks, grossing $99.8 million.[10] After seven weeks, it was finally knocked to the number-two position by Prince's film Purple Rain, at which point it had grossed $142.6 million, second only to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as the year's top moneymaker.[11] Remarkably, Ghostbusters then regained the top spot the next week, and again six weeks later.[12] It went on to gross $229.2 million, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1984, behind only Beverly Hills Cop.[13] Adjusted for inflation, these figures put it within the top 40 highest-grossing films of all time.[14] A 1985 re-release raised the film's total gross to $238.6 million ($523 million in today's dollars[15]), surpassing Beverly Hills Cop[16] and making it the most successful comedy of the 1980s.

Critical response[edit]

Ghostbusters received widespread acclaim from critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1984.[17][18][19][20] It holds a 96% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 54 reviews; the site's consensus called the film "An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns."[21]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four and wrote, "This movie is an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy ... Rarely has a movie this expensive provided so many quotable lines".[22] Newsweek magazine's David Ansen wrote, "Everyone seems to be working toward the same goal of relaxed insanity. Ghostbusters is wonderful summer nonsense".[23] In his review for TIME, Richard Schickel praised the three lead actors: "Of the ghost wranglers, the pair played by writers Aykroyd and Ramis are sweetly earnest about their calling, and gracious about giving the picture to their co-star Bill Murray. He obviously (and wisely) regards Dr. Peter Venkman as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop fully his patented comic character".[24] Pauline Kael had problems with the chemistry among the three lead actors: "Murray is the film's comic mechanism ... But nobody else has much in the way of material, and since there's almost no give-and-take among the three men, Murray's lines fall on dead air".[25] In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Its jokes, characters and story line are as wispy as the ghosts themselves, and a good deal less substantial".[26]

Awards[edit]

The film received two Academy Award nominations, including Best Original Song (for the hit song "Ghostbusters") and Best Visual Effects (John Bruno, Richard Edlund, Chuck Gaspar and Mark Vargo). The film was nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Bill Murray).

Home media[edit]

In 1989, Criterion Collection released a laserdisc version of the film, in a one-disc CLV version and a two-disc special edition CAV version. The latter included deleted scenes, a split-screen demonstration of the film's effects, the screenplay, and other special features.[27]

Director Ivan Reitman was not happy with the laserdisc release of the film because "it pumped up the light level so much you saw all the matte lines. I was embarrassed about it all these years".[28] The DVD version of the movie was released on June 29, 1999,[28] at a time when an estimated four million U.S. households had DVD players, and became one of Reel.com's fastest selling products.[29]

Sony announced at Comic-Con 2008 that the Blu-ray version of the film would be released on October 21, 2008. Sony initially made it available through their promotional website Ghostbustersishiring.com. The movie was released on Blu-ray on June 16, 2009 to coincide with the film's 25th Anniversary. Ghostbusters was the first film ever officially released on a USB flashdrive.[30]

A second Blu-ray version was released on May 14, 2013. It was marketed as "Mastered in 4k", and was noted as having improved image quality over the previous Blu-ray release.

2011 re-release[edit]

Sony Pictures re-released the film in nearly 500 theaters in the United States on October 13, 2011, and the following two Thursdays before Halloween of that year.[31]

Music[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Ghostbusters: Original Soundtrack Album
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 1984
Genre Pop, New Wave, synthpop, R&B
Length 37:38
Label Arista Records
Ghostbusters soundtrack chronology
Ghostbusters Ghostbusters II
Singles from Ghostbusters: Original Soundtrack Album
  1. "Ghostbusters"
    Released: May 1984

The film's theme song, "Ghostbusters," written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr., sparked the catchphrases "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost." The song was a huge hit, staying number one for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and for two weeks on the Black Singles chart, and brought Parker an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. According to Bruce A. Austin (in 1989), the theme "purportedly added $20 million to the box office take of the film".[32]

In autumn of 1984, singer and songwriter Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. for plagiarism, claiming that Parker copied the melody from his 1983 song "I Want a New Drug". Lewis had been approached to compose the main theme song for the movie, but declined due to his work on the soundtrack for Back to the Future. The two musicians settled out of court. It was reported in 2001 that Lewis allegedly breached an agreement not to mention the original suit, doing so on VH1's Behind the Music.[33]

The music video produced for the song became a number-one video on MTV. Featuring actress Cindy Harrell, directed by Ivan Reitman, produced by Jeffrey Abelson, and conceptualized by Keith Williams, the video integrated footage of the film with a humorous performance by Parker. It also featured cameo appearances by celebrities who joined in the call-and-response chorus, including Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Ollie E. Brown, Melissa Gilbert, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, Lori Singer and Teri Garr. The video ends with footage of the four main Ghostbusters actors in costume and character, dancing and singing behind Parker in Times Square.

Original Soundtrack Album[34]
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Ghostbusters"   Ray Parker, Jr. 4:06
2. "Cleanin' Up the Town"   The BusBoys 2:59
3. "Savin' the Day"   Alessi Brothers 3:23
4. "In the Name of Love"   Thompson Twins 3:20
5. "I Can Wait Forever"   Air Supply 5:10
6. "Hot Night"   Laura Branigan 3:23
7. "Magic"   Mick Smiley 4:21
8. "Main Title Theme (Ghostbusters)"   Elmer Bernstein 3:00
9. "Dana's Theme"   Elmer Bernstein 3:32
10. "Ghostbusters" (Instrumental Version) Ray Parker, Jr. 4:47
Total length:
37:38
Bonus tracks[35]
No. Title Artist Length
11. "Disco Inferno"   The Trammps 10:58
12. "Ghostbusters" (12" Single Remix) Ray Parker, Jr. 6:04
Total length:
54:40

Score[edit]

Ghostbusters: Original Motion Picture Score
Film score by Elmer Bernstein
Released 2006
Genre Classical, electronic
Length 68:02
Label Varèse Sarabande

The film score was composed by Elmer Bernstein, and is notable for its use of ondes Martenot (a staple of Bernstein's 1980s work) and also the Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer. Orchestrators contributing to the film were Peter Bernstein, David Spear and Patrick Russ. The score was commercially released in 2006 as Ghostbusters: Original Motion Picture Score by Varèse Sarabande. It contains 39 tracks by Bernstein.

Original Motion Picture Score[36]
No. Title Length
1. "Ghostbusters Theme"   3:01
2. "Library and Title"   3:02
3. "Venkman"   0:31
4. "Walk"   0:31
5. "Hello"   1:36
6. "Get Her!"   2:01
7. "Plan"   1:25
8. "Taken"   1:08
9. "Fridge"   1:01
10. "Sign"   0:54
11. "Client"   0:35
12. "The Apartment"   2:45
13. "Dana's Theme"   3:31
14. "We Got One!"   2:02
15. "Halls"   2:01
16. "Trap"   1:56
17. "Meeting"   0:38
18. "I Respect You"   0:54
19. "Cross Rip"   1:07
20. "Attack"   1:30
21. "Dogs"   0:57
22. "Date"   0:45
23. "Zuul"   4:12
24. "Dana's Room"   1:40
25. "Judgment Day"   1:19
26. "The Protection Grid"   0:42
27. "Ghosts!"   2:15
28. "The Gatekeeper"   1:12
29. "Earthquake"   0:33
30. "Ghostbusters!"   1:13
31. "Stairwell"   1:14
32. "Gozer"   2:48
33. "Marshmallow Terror"   1:25
34. "Final Battle"   1:30
35. "Finish"   2:13
36. "End Credits"   5:04
37. "Magic" (Bonus track) 1:37
38. "Zuul" (Bonus track) 3:12
39. "We Got One! (Alternate)" (Bonus track) 2:04
Total length:
68:02

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewers at Allmusic have awarded both the Original Soundtrack Album and the Original Motion Picture Score 4 out of a total 5 stars. Evan Cater describes the Original Soundtrack Album somewhat pejoratively as "a very disjointed, schizophrenic listen" that "does very little to conjure memories of the film". However, he notes that there are exceptions to this, namely Ray Parker Jr.'s title track "Ghostbusters", Mick Smiley's "Magic", and the two inclusions from Elmer Bernstein's score.[34] Jason Ankeny describes the Original Motion Picture Score as "epic in both sound and scale", noting that it "ranks among Bernstein's most dazzling and entertaining efforts, evoking the widescreen wonder of its source material", concluding that "his melodies beautifully complement the wit and creativity of the onscreen narrative."[37]

Sequels[edit]

After the success of the first film and the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures pressured the producers to make a sequel. However, Aykroyd, Ramis and Reitman were uncomfortable with this, as the original film was intended to be conclusive and they wished to work on other projects. Eventually, they agreed and created a script. The second movie, Ghostbusters II, was released in 1989.

A script for a potential third film was under development by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the writing team that worked with Harold Ramis on the 2009 comedy Year One; according to Ramis, the four main cast members from the original film may have minor on-screen roles: "The concept is that the old Ghostbusters would appear in the film in some mentor capacity".[38] Comments from Murray in August 2010, after Year One's release suggested the latter's poor reception made a new Ghostbuster sequel a "dream just vaporized."[39] Two months later, Aykroyd downplayed Murray's comments, saying Stupnitsky and Eisenberg "wrote Bill the comic role of a lifetime, and the new Ghostbusters and the old are all well represented in it"; they wrote a "strong first draft" that Aykroyd and Ramis would work on.[40] In February 2012, Aykroyd said "The script must be perfect. We cannot release a film that is any less than that. We have more work to do." [41] On February 24, 2014, Ramis died, causing Sony Pictures to re-evaluate the script that they were writing for Ghostbusters III.[42] On March 18, 2014, Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start in New York, but Reitman won't be directing the third film and will instead help Amy Pascal find a new director to take over the film.[43] On March 20, 2014, it was revealed directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller where in talks to direct the film, but on April 8, 2014, the duo has passed on the project.[44][45][46]

Legacy[edit]

Movie fans dressed as Ghostbusters, in 2011.

The film became a cultural phenomenon and an instant classic. The American Film Institute ranked it 28th in its list of the top 100 comedies of all time (in their 100 Years... 100 Laughs list),[47] and nominated it for its lists of the 100 greatest movies in 1998[48] and 2007[49] and the 100 most heart-pounding movies (in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills).[50][51] The title song was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs,[52] and two quotes were nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes: "We came. We saw. We kicked its ass," and "He slimed me," both spoken by Venkman.[53] In 2005, IGN voted Ghostbusters the greatest comedy ever.[54] In 2006, Bravo ranked Ghostbusters 76 on their 100 Funniest Movies list.[55] Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the Funniest Movie of the Past 25 Years.[56] In 2008, Empire magazine ranked the film #189 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[57] In 2009, National Review magazine ranked Ghostbusters number 10 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.[58][dead link] In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Ghostbusters the 44th greatest comedy film of all time.

References[edit]

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  38. ^ Caro, Mark (September 5, 2008). "Harold Ramis confirms 'Ghostbusters III'". Pop Machine (column). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-29. 
  39. ^ Fierman, Dan (August 2010). "Bill Murray Is Ready To See You Now". GQ. Retrieved 2012-04-29. "Harold Ramis said, Oh, I've got these guys, they write on The Office, and they're really funny. They're going to write the next Ghostbusters. And they had just written this movie that he had directed. Year One. Well, I never went to see Year One, but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives. So that dream just vaporized. That was gone." 
  40. ^ Michals, Susan (October 5, 2010). "Dan Aykroyd Writing Ghostbusters 3 Script, Selling Vodka Out Of His RV". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2012-04-29. "I can tell you firsthand, I’m working on the script now and those two – Stupnitsky and Eisenberg, [writer-producers of The Office] – wrote Bill the comic role of a lifetime, and the new Ghostbusters and the old are all well represented in it…we have a strong first draft that Harold [Ramis] and I will take back, and I’m very excited about working on it." 
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  58. ^ http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YWQ4MDlhMWRkZDQ5YmViMDM1Yzc0MTE3ZTllY2E3MGM=[dead link]

External links[edit]