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Ghostbusters (titled on-screen as Ghost Busters) is a 1984 science-fiction comedy film written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists-turned-ghost exterminators. The film was released in the United States on June 8, 1984 and like several films of the era, teamed Aykroyd and/or Ramis with headliner Bill Murray. It was produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed Stripes, and stars Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson. With inflation adjustments, the film's original release grossed over $500 million US dollars counting sales in just the U.S., making it domestically one of the highest-grossing films of 1984 and also domestically the 31st highest-grossing film.

It was followed by a sequel, Ghostbusters II (1989), and two animated television series, The Real Ghostbusters (later renamed Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters) and Extreme Ghostbusters. Ramis, who co-wrote the first two films, has confirmed that a script for a potential third film a spin-off sequel with the original cast appearing only as minor characters is being developed by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the writing team best known for their work on Curb Your Enthusiasm and the American version of The Office. Producer Judd Apatow (a producer of the Ramis-directed Year One) is also slated to be involved. Ramis told a Chicago Tribune columnist in 2008 that the original films' four main cast members may have minor on-screen roles: "The concept is that the old Ghostbusters would appear in the film in some mentor capacity".

The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters 28th in its "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs" list of movie comedies.


After losing their jobs at Columbia University, a trio of misfit parapsychologistsPeter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler — establish their own paranormal exterminator service, "Ghostbusters." The business, operating out of an abandoned fire station, gets off to a slow start, but just as they run out of money, the Ghostbusters are contacted by the upscale Sedgewick Hotel to investigate a haunting. At the hotel, they successfully (albeit chaotically) capture their first ghost and deposit him into a "containment unit" of their own design located at the Ghostbusters office. Paranormal activity appears to be on the rise in the city and business skyrockets for the Ghostbusters, who become local celebrities and hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore.

The Ghostbusters are hired by a woman named Dana Barrett, whose apartment at 55 Central Park Westmarker is haunted by a demonic spirit called Zuul, a demigod worshiped in 6000 BC as a servant to Gozer the Gozerian, a Sumerian shape-shifting god. Venkman, who finds Dana attractive, takes a particular interest in the case, competing for her affection with her socially-inept neighbor Louis Tully. As they look into the matter, Dana is possessed by Zuul, which declares itself "The Gatekeeper". Louis is also discovered to be possessed by a similar demon called Vinz Clortho, "The Keymaster". Both demons speak of the coming of the destructive god Gozer, and the Ghostbusters decide it would be prudent to keep the two separated from each other. However, the next day, the Ghostbusters office is visited by Walter Peck of the EPA, who arrests the team and orders their ghost containment grid shut down, unleashing hundreds of ghosts onto New York City. Freed from the Ghostbusters' protective custody, Louis/Vinz begins making his way toward Dana/Zuul's apartment as the escaped ghosts create havoc throughout the city.

Consulting blueprints of 55 Central Park West, the Ghostbusters learn that it was built by a mad doctor and cult leader named Ivo Shandor who designed the building to act as a spiritual magnet to summon Gozer and bring about the end of the world. The Ghostbusters are brought to the mayor's office and freed in order to combat the paranormal activity. The Ghostbusters head towards the Shandor Building, arriving at the shrine at the top. They are unable to stop Dana and Louis from transforming into demonic beasts and summoning Gozer, who initially appears as a woman. Briefly subdued by the team, Gozer disappears, though her voice echoes that the "destructor" will follow, taking a form chosen by the team. Venkman explains that this means that whatever they imagine will be manifested as a destroying force, and urges everyone to blank their minds to avoid giving form to the destructor. Rumbling footfalls are heard in the distance, however, and Ray Stantz finally admits that he was unable to keep his mind blank, so he imagined "something that could never, ever possibly destroy us." The destructor arrives in Stantz's chosen form of the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and begins laying waste to the city. To defeat this manifestation of Gozer, the team decides to merge the energy streams of their proton packs and aim at the dimensional portal Gozer came through, at the risk of their own lives. They ultimately follow through with this plan and destroy Stay Puft, who explodes into torrents of melted marshmallow.

The Ghostbusters survive, and Dana and Louis emerge out of the charred remains of their possessors. As they exit the building, the Ghostbusters are met with cheers from the gathered crowd. A dazed Louis is taken away for medical attention while Venkman and Dana kiss as they drive off.


The concept was inspired by Aykroyd's own fascination with the paranormal and it was conceived as a vehicle for himself and friend John Belushi, fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus. The original story, as written by Aykroyd, was very different from what was eventually filmed. In that early version, a group of Ghostbusters travelled through time, space and other dimensions taking on huge ghosts (of which the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was just one of many). Also, the Ghostbusters wore S.W.A.T.-like outfits and used wands instead of Proton Packs to fight the ghosts. Ghostbusters storyboards show them wearing riotsquad-type helmets with movable transparent visors.

Aykroyd pitched his story to director / producer Ivan Reitman, who liked the basic idea but immediately saw the budgetary impossibilities demanded by Aykroyd's first draft. At Reitman's suggestion, the story was given a major overhaul, eventually evolving into the final screenplay which Aykroyd and Ramis hammered out over the course of three weeks in a Martha's Vineyard bomb shelter in May-June 1982. Aykroyd and Ramis initially wrote the script with roles written especially for Belushi, Eddie Murphy and John Candy. However, Belushi died during the writing of the screenplay, and neither Murphy nor Candy would commit to the movie, so Aykroyd and Ramis made some changes and polished a basic, sci-fi-oriented screenplay for their final draft.

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.

Louis Tully was originally conceived as a conservative man in a business suit played by comedian John Candy, but with Candy unable to commit to the role, it was taken by Rick Moranis, portraying Louis as a geek. Gozer was originally going to appear in the form of Ivo Shandor as a slender, unremarkable man in a suit played by Paul Reubens. In the end, the role was played by Yugoslav model Slavitza Jovan.

Harold Ramis had no intention of acting in any role in the film as he planned on only helping Aykroyd write the screenplay. However, the crew struggled to cast the role of Egon Spengler, even after renowned actors such as Chevy Chase, Michael Keaton, Christopher Walken, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, and Jeff Goldblum were considered. Feeling he knew the character best since he created him, Ramis accepted the role of Egon. He credits this move in revitalizing his acting career, as Ramis had previously focused on off-screen work such as writing and directing.

Winston Zeddemore was written with Eddie Murphy in mind, but Murphy had to decline the role as he was filming Beverly Hills Cop at the same time. If Murphy had been cast, Zeddemore would have been hired much earlier in the film, and would have accompanied the trio on their hunt for Slimer at the hotel and been slimed in place of Peter Venkman. When Ernie Hudson took over, it was decided that he be brought in later to indicate how the Ghostbusters were struggling to keep up with the outbreak of ghosts.


In order to properly light the set for Gozer's temple and create the physical effects for the set, other stages needed to be shut down and all their power diverted over to the set. The hallway sets for the Sedgewick Hotel were originally built for the movie Rich and Famous in 1981 and patterned after the Algonquin Hotelmarker in New York City, where Reitman originally wanted to film the scene. The Biltmore Hotel was chosen because the large lobby allowed for a tracking shot of the Ghostbusters in complete gear for the first time. Dana Barrett and Louis Tully's apartments were constructed across two stages and were actually on the other side of their doors in the hallway, an unusual move in filmmaking.

A problem arose during filming when it was discovered that a television show had been produced in 1975 by Filmation for CBS called The Ghost Busters, starring Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker. Columbia Pictures prepared a list of alternative names just in case the rights could not be secured, but during the filming of the crowd for the final battle, the extras were all chanting "Ghostbusters", which inspired the producers to insist that the studio buy the rights to the name.

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




Box office

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984 in 1,339 theaters and grossed $13.6 million on its opening weekend and $23 million in its first week, a studio record at the time. The film was number one at the box office for five consecutive weeks, grossing $99.8 million in that time. After seven weeks at number one, it was finally knocked to second place by Prince's film, Purple Rain and had grossed $142.6 million, second only to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as the year's top moneymaker. However, Ghostbusters regained top spot the next week, and then again six weeks later. It went on to gross $229.2 million at the box office, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1984, behind only Beverly Hills Cop. At the time, these figures put it within the top ten highest-grossing films of all-time. A re-release in 1985 gave the film a total gross of $238.6 million surpassing Beverly Hills Cop and making Ghostbusters the most successful comedy of the 1980s.


Ghostbusters was well-received and holds a 93% "Certified Fresh" Rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 44 reviews. 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". 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". Newsweek magazine's David Ansen wrote, "Everyone seems to be working toward the same goal of relaxed insanity. Ghostbusters is wonderful summer nonsense". 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". Pauline Kael had problems with the chemistry between 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".


The film spawned a franchise of related sequels, animated television series, toys, computer and video games, and other merchandise.


In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Ghostbusters the 44th greatest comedy film of all time. The American Film Institute ranked it 28th in its list of the top 100 comedies of all time (in their "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs" list). In 2005, IGN voted Ghostbusters the greatest comedy ever. In 2006, Bravo ranked Ghostbusters 76 on their "100 Funniest Movies" list. Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the Funniest Movie of the Past 25 Years.In 2009, National Review magazine ranked "Ghostbusters" number 10 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.

Theme park attractions

The film was licensed for Ghostbusters Spooktacular, a special effects show at the Universal Studios Floridamarker theme park. The show was one of the original attractions at the park when it opened in 1990 and closed in 1997. Later, versions of the Ghostbusters characters were also included in a lip-synching dance show also featuring Beetlejuice on the steps of the New York Public Librarymarker facade at the park. Their Ecto-1 automobile was used to drive them around the park, and was often used in the park's annual "Macy's Holiday Parade". The characters, vehicles, and all other Ghostbusters trademarks were discontinued in 2005 when Universal failed to renew the rights for theme park use.


NECA released in 2004 a line of action figures based on the first movie but only produced a series of ghost characters, as Bill Murray refused the rights to use his facial likeness. Their first and only series included Gozer, Slimer, the Terror Dogs (Vinz Clortho and Zuul), and a massive Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, contrasting the diminutive figure that was in the original figure line. Ertl released a die-cast 1/25 scale Ectomobile, also known as Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters' main transportation. Rubies' Costumes has produced a Ghostbusters Halloween costume, consisting of a one-piece jumpsuit with logos and an inflatable Proton Pack. Mattel planned to release a series of 12 and 6 inch figures based on the film in June 2009, coinciding with the film's 25th anniversary.


There were two novelizations of the film published. The first, which came out around the same time the movie did, was written by Larry Milne and was 191 pages long. The narrative is written in the present tense, and the novel contains a behind-the-scenes section (profiling the major cast and crew members), and also the movie's complete end credits. A second novelization, written by Richard Mueller, was released in 1985. It was 65 pages longer at 256 pages, and had the extended subtitle The Supernatural Spectacular. Both differ from the finished version of the film in many respects, containing scenes that ultimately did not make the final cut.

A larger (A4 sized) book was also released by Hippo Books, containing a large number of stills - some from the movie, some publicity shots - tying in with the story on the relevant page. This publication is more child friendly than the previous two, and the story, while still quite extensive, is somewhat scaled down in detail.

iBooks published the novel Ghostbusters: The Return by Sholly Fisch.


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 film's theme song, "Ghostbusters", written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr., sparked the catchphrases "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" and "I ain't 'fraid of no ghost(s)". The song was a huge hit, staying #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and #1 for two weeks on the Black Singles chart. The song earned Parker an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Song".

The music video produced for the song became a #1 MTV video. Directed by Ivan Reitman, produced by Jeffrey Abelson, and conceptualised by Keith Williams, the video integrated footage of the film intercut with a humorous performance by Parker. The video also featured cameo appearances by celebrities who joined in the call-and-response chorus, including Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Nickolas Ashford, Melissa Gilbert, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr. The video ends with footage of the four main Ghostbusters actors in costume and character, dancing in Times Square behind Parker, joining in the singing.

In autumn 1984 Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. for plagiarism, claiming that Parker stole 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 he 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.


Director Ivan Reitman was not happy with the laser disc 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". The DVD version of the movie was released and became one of the fastest selling units ever on Sony had announced at Comic-Con 2008 that the Blu-Ray version of the film was to be released on October 21, 2008. However, it was released first through Sony Pictures' campaign site, as a way to drum up sales of its release. 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. The film was also released onto YouTube for a week on a deal with Sony to provide ad-supported full-length movies on YouTube in August 2009, though it was only available in the United States.


  1. Boxofficemojo: Box office statistics for 1984, Boxofficemojo: All-time domestic inflation adjustments
  2. Caro, Mark. "Pop Machine" (column): "Harold Ramis confirms 'Ghostbusters III'",, September 5, 2008
  3. Shay, Don (1985). Making Ghostbusters, New York: New York Zoetrope. ISBN 0918432685
  4. A Ghostbusters I and II DVD pack included a 28-page booklet of copies of Ghostbusters storyboards.

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