History, Legacy & Showmanship
Sunday, 08 June 2014 13:40

They Came, They Saw, They Kicked Its Ass: Remembering “Ghostbusters” on its 30th Anniversary

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“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No job is too big. No fee is too big.”

The Digital Bits is pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of Ghostbusters, the supernatural comedy and smash hit of the summer of ’84 that introduced the world to Slimer, the Ecto-1, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and unlicensed nuclear accelerators. The Bits celebrates the occasion with this retrospective featuring some quotes from movie critics, production & exhibition trivia, a list of the movie’s deluxe 70-millimeter presentations, and a compilation of box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context. [Read on here…]

Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver, plus memorable supporting performances from Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton and Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters (official on-screen billing: Ghost Busters) has been entertaining audiences for three decades with its exciting visual effects and endless supply of quotable dialogue and hilarious scenes. Home theater enthusiasts will remember Ghostbusters for being among the earliest special edition and letterboxed releases with its Criterion Collection LaserDisc. In addition to retrospective articles (such as this one), thirty-year anniversary celebrations will include a theatrical re-release in August and a new Blu-ray Disc release in September.

Ghostbusters publicity shot



  • 1 = Rank among Columbia Pictures’ top-grossing movies of all time at close of run
  • 1 = Rank among top-grossing movies during opening weekend
  • 1 = Rank among top-grossing movies of 1984 (summer season)
  • 1 = Rank among top-grossing movies of 1984 (calendar year)
  • 2 = Rank among top-grossing movies of 1984 (legacy)
  • 6 = Rank on all-time list of top-grossing movies at close of original run
  • 7 = Number of years industry’s top-grossing comedy
  • 10 = Number of weeks nation’s top-grossing movie (including first seven weeks)
  • 11.2 = Percentage of second-week increase in box-office gross
  • 13 = Number of years Columbia Pictures’ top-grossing movie
  • 16 = Number of months between theatrical release and home-video release
  • 32 = Number of days to gross $100 million
  • 33 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • 94 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (domestic)
  • 108 = Number of days to gross $200 million
  • 334 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (worldwide)
  • 1,339 = Number of theaters showing the movie during opening weekend
  • 410,000 = Number of home-video units sold to retailers (priced for rental, $80 SRP)*
  • $9.4 million = Domestic box-office gross (1985 re-release)
  • $13.6 million = Opening weekend box-office gross
  • $31.0 million = Production cost
  • $53.0 million = International box-office gross
  • $70.7 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $128.0 million = Domestic box-office rental (% of gross exhibitors paid to distributor)
  • $229.2 million = Domestic box-office gross (original release)
  • $238.6 million = Domestic box-office gross (original + re-release)
  • $291.6 million = Worldwide box-office gross
  • $563.1 million = Domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
  • $665.4 million = Worldwide box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)

*Established new industry record

Ghostbusters publicity shot




Ghostbusters advance poster“A month ago, if anyone had told me I’d be giving a favorable review to a movie in which a giant marshmallow attacks New York, I’d have nodded politely at best. But Ghostbusters evokes a very willing suspension of disbelief. After watching the comic demons and possessions, it will be impossible (if it isn’t already) to sit through a Stephen King adaptation with a straight face.” — Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning News


“Hilarious. Delightful. Wonderful. Everyone seems to be working toward the same goal of relaxed insanity. Ghostbusters is wonderful summer nonsense.” — David Ansen, Newsweek


“Pumped up with special effects, it eventually degenerates into a mindless sound and light show that could have appeared in many other, lesser movies. This film is a whole lot funnier when its characters are talking to and past each other than when everybody is standing around in awe of not particularly awesome special effects.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

“Rarely has a movie this expensive provided so many quotable lines.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Ivan Reitman is not one of our great comedy directors; he was responsible for Meatballs and the equally miserable Bill Murray comedy, Stripes. But he almost keeps the mixture of comedy and spectacle in Ghostbusters under control, and that's no small feat. Even the overblown finale includes one great sight gag that will be dear to the hearts of Godzilla fans.” — John Hartl, The Seattle Times

“Four Stars! An all-out laugh attack… Refreshing comic intelligence… Bill Murray, the unlikeliest heartthrob since Groucho Marx, is seductively hilarious – and without a cigar. This pizza-face with his mossy eyes and satiric scar of a mouth tramples through the movie with comedic assurance, translating para-psychobabble into street-wise-cracks” — Carrie Rickey, Boston Herald


”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.” — Richard Schickel, Time


“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.” — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker


Ghostbusters towers above most modern comedies. It’s one of the happiest surprises of the summer…miles ahead of its other competitors.” — Rex Reed, syndicated columnist


“Irresistible. Inspired lunacy. Aykroyd and Murray make the perfect summer tonic for raising spirits.” — Peter Travers, People


“Its jokes, characters and storyline are as wispy as the ghosts themselves, and a good deal less substantial.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times


“Terrific…a comic jackpot. The best summer movie so far.” — Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight


Ghostbusters is this summer’s comedy blockbuster.” — Joel Siegel, Good Morning America


Ghostbusters is a convulsively funny classic comedy… A landmark – the one in which a generation of comics put it all together.” — David Denby, New York Magazine


Annie Potts



By the end of its original release, Ghostbusters became Columbia Pictures’ highest-grossing movie (and the industry’s highest-grossing comedy). It eclipsed the record set by Tootsie two years earlier and held as the studio’s top earner until eclipsed by Men in Black in 1997.

The world premiere of Ghostbusters was held on June 7, 1984, at the Avco Center in Los Angeles.

Ghostbusters was the first project for which three-time Academy Award winner Richard Edlund produced the visual effects upon leaving Industrial Light + Magic and forming Boss Film Studios.

Ghostbusters was the final film on which eleven-time Oscar nominee and three-time Oscar-winning production designer John De Cuir worked.

Collaboration… Ghostbusters was one of six films composer Elmer Bernstein and Ivan Reitman worked on together…. Ghostbusters was the third of five collaborations between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis…. Ghostbusters was the third of four collaborations between Bill Murray and Ivan Reitman.

The American Film Institute voted Ghostbusters Number 28 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, part of the AFI’s 100 Years… series.

The coming attractions trailer for Ghostbusters was attached to the prints of Moscow on the Hudson. A trailer for The Karate Kid was attached to the prints of Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters, itself inspired by the 1946 Bowery Boys film Spook Busters, inspired a sequel, two animated TV series, and several video games. A second sequel/reboot has been in development for several years.

Ghostbusters was among 16 movies released during 1984 with 70mm prints for selected engagements. The premium-format prints cost about eight times that of a conventional 35mm print to manufacture but grossed more than the 35mm engagements in most situations.

Ghostbusters was nominated for two Academy Awards: Visual Effects and Original Song. The movie was also nominated for three Golden Globes and a Grammy. It won a Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and a BAFTA Award for the song Ghostbusters.

In 1984, musician Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. and Columbia Pictures for plagiarism, claiming the Ghostbusters theme song ripped off Huey Lewis and the News’ I Want a New Drug. The case was settled out of court. In 2001, Parker sued Lewis, alleging Lewis violated the terms of the settlement by discussing the incident in a television documentary.

During an era where six months was the average amount of time between theatrical release and home-video release, Ghostbusters had a theatrical-to-video “window” of 16 months by arriving on home-video formats in October 1985.

The first network television broadcast of Ghostbusters was on ABC on September 24, 1987. Its first letterboxed release (on LaserDisc) was in 1989. Its first DVD release was in 1999. Its first Blu-ray release was in 2008.

The Ghostbusters



The following is a list of the first-run 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo premium-format presentations of Ghostbusters in the United States and Canada. Arguably, these were the best theaters in which to experience Ghostbusters. (The list does not include any 70mm move-over, sub-run, re-release or international engagements.)


  • Vancouver – Odeon PARK


  • Cerritos – United Artists CERRITOS MALL TWIN
  • Los Angeles (Hollywood) – Mann CHINESE TRIPLEX <THX>
  • Los Angeles (Northridge) – Pacific NORTHRIDGE 6
  • Los Angeles (Tarzana) – Mann VALLEY WEST 6
  • Los Angeles (Westwood) – General Cinema Corporation AVCO CENTER <THX>
  • Marina del Rey – United Artists MOVIES 6
  • Oakland – Renaissance Rialto GRAND LAKE 4
  • Orange – Syufy CINEDOME 6
  • Pleasant Hill – Syufy CENTURY 5
  • Riverside – United Artists PARK SIERRA 6
  • San Francisco – Plitt NORTHPOINT
  • San Jose – Syufy TOWN & COUNTRY
  • Westminster – United Artists WESTMINSTER MALL TWIN

Ghostbusters L.A. Times adCOLORADO

  • Littleton – Commonwealth COOPER 7


  • Washington – Circle UPTOWN


  • Calumet City – Plitt RIVER OAKS 6
  • Niles – Essaness GOLF MILL 3
  • Norridge – Marks & Rosenfield NORRIDGE 4
  • Schaumburg – Plitt WOODFIELD 4


  • Honolulu – Consolidated WAIKIKI TWIN <HPS-4000>


  • Winnipeg – Odeon GARRICK 1 & 2


  • Boston – Sack CHERI 1-2-3
  • West Springfield – Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS


  • Sunset Hills – Mann MARK TWAIN


  • Paramus – RKO Century ROUTE 4 TENPLEX


  • DeWitt – Carrols SHOPPINGTOWN 1 & 2
  • New York (Brooklyn) – RKO Century KINGSWAY FIVEPLEX
  • New York (Manhattan) – Loews NEW YORK TWIN
  • New York (Manhattan) – Loews STATE TWIN


  • Ottawa – Odeon ST. LAURENT 1 & 2
  • Toronto – Odeon YORK 1 & 2


  • Beaverton – Luxury Theatres WESTGATE TRIPLEX


  • Philadelphia – SamEric ERIC’S PLACE


  • Montreal – Odeon PLACE DU CANADA


  • Taylorsville – Plitt MIDVALLEY 6


  • Bellevue – Sterling Recreation Organization FACTORIA 5
  • Lynnwood – Sterling Recreation Organization GRAND CINEMAS ALDERWOOD 5
  • Tacoma – Sterling Recreation Organization TACOMA SOUTH 5
  • Tukwila – Sterling Recreation Organization LEWIS & CLARK 7

Ernie Hudson



  • Dr. Peter Venkman – Bill Murray
  • Dr. Raymond Stantz – Dan Aykroyd
  • Dana Barrett – Sigourney Weaver
  • Dr. Egon Spengler – Harold Ramis
  • Louis Tully – Rick Moranis
  • Janine Melnitz – Annie Potts
  • Walter Peck – William Atherton
  • Winston Zeddemore – Ernie Hudson
  • Director – Ivan Reitman
  • Screenplay – Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
  • Producer – Ivan Reitman
  • Director of Photography – Laszlo Kovacs, ASC
  • Production Designer – John De Cuir
  • Film Editors – Sheldon Kahn, ACE with David Blewitt, ACE
  • Executive Producer – Bernie Brillstein
  • Associate Producers – Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross
  • Visual Effects – Richard Edlund, ASC
  • Music – Elmer Bernstein
  • Costumes – Theoni V. Aldredge
  • Sound Designers – Richard Beggs, Tom McCarthy, Jr.
  • Re-Recording Mixers – Les Fresholtz, CAS; Dick Alexander, CAS; Vern Poore, CAS
  • Distributor – Columbia Pictures
  • Production Company – Black Rhino/Bernie Brillstein
  • Release Date – June 8, 1984
  • Running Time – 105 minutes
  • Projection Format – Scope / Dolby Stereo
  • MPAA Rating – PG

Ghostbusters LaserDisc and Blu-ray releases



Numerous newspaper articles, film reviews and theater advertisements; the periodicals The Hollywood Reporter, Time, Variety, and The Wall Street Journal; the website Boxofficemojo, the book George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success (George Lucas Books/Harper Collins, 2010); and the film Ghostbusters (1984, Columbia Pictures).



Jerry Alexander, Claude Ayakawa, Raymond Caple, Steve Guttag, Bill Kretzel, Tamir Sharif, Vince Young, and a huge thank you to all of the librarians who helped with the research for this project.



Copyright 1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Ghostbusters: 30th Anniversary Limited Edition (Blu-ray Disc)



  • Harold Ramis (Co-Writer, “Dr. Egon Spengler”), 1944-2014
  • David Blewitt (Co-Editor), 1928-2010
  • Bernie Brillstein (Executive Producer), 1931-2008
  • Laszlo Kovacs (Director of Photography), 1933-2007
  • Elmer Bernstein (Music), 1922-2004
  • John De Cuir (Production Designer), 1918-1991

- Michael Coate

The StayPuft Marshmallow Man 



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