Today in History: Ghostbusters Hits the Big Screen (1984)

Today in History: Ghostbusters Hits the Big Screen (1984)

Matthew Weber - June 8, 2017

Ghostbusters is one of the most popular films of all time. On June 8, 1984, Ghostbusters almost instantly became a cult classic. Its popularity has endured for the last 33 years, through several sequels and a reboot.

The movie revolves around a group of men who take it upon themselves to rid New York City of paranormal activity. The film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, and was directed by Ivan Reitman. Ghostbusters also stars Rick Moranis (of Honey I Shrunk the Kids fame) and Sigourney Weaver, who are possessed throughout the movie by spirits who threaten New York City.

Today in History: Ghostbusters Hits the Big Screen (1984)
Original Theatrical Poster. Wikipedia

The film starts out with the group of three being fired after being run off by a ghost at the New York Public Library. After starting their new business, the group uses their skills to combat the outbreak of ghost activity in New York City.

The scrip[t was originally written by Dan Aykroyd, but was rewritten after the John Belushi died in 1982. Belushi was the first choice of Aykroyd to co-star in the film; both Aykroyd and Belushi were well-known after their work in 1980’s The Blues Brothers. The script was rewritten to take advantage of the talents of Bill Murray.

The film was critically acclaimed, and remains highly regarded. The late Roger Ebert, one of the world’s most well-known movie critics wrote in his review: “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.” Even thirty-three years later, the movie is still well received with a rating on Rotten Tomatoes of over 95 percent.

Ghostbusters received two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globes nominations, and several other awards. According to the American Film Institute, which is known for rating movies, it is the 28th best comedy of all time.

When it was released, it hit almost 1400 theaters simultaneously, one of the biggest openings ever. It took in $13.6 million in the first weekend, and $23 million in its first week, both numbers setting records for Columbia Pictures. It’s a good thing that the film was such a success because, at the time, it was one of the most expensive comedies ever made, with a budget of around $30 million.

Today in History: Ghostbusters Hits the Big Screen (1984)
Ghostbusters 1984. The Viewer’s Commentary Review

Since its release, there have been several expansions on the franchise. Ghostbusters II came out in 1989, but was not as well received, nor has it aged as well as the original (scoring only 51 percent at Rotten Tomatoes). The original also spawned two television series in the 1990s, both animated, and both fairly forgettable.

The franchise was rebooted in 2016 with an all new cast and a new plot, which was not as well received as the original, but was a good attempt to remake one of Hollywood’s instant classics (53 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).

Ghostbusters will remain one of the most popular films ever produced. It ranks right up there with films like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings as films that almost everyone has seen and knows about. Everyone knows that when there’s a ghost around, Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters, of course.