This October, an American classic will be re-released into theaters for a limited run. Ghostbusters, the iconic Sci-Fi comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver will be in a limited number of theaters for the first time since it was originally released in 1984 (with a limited re release the following year). With the continuing rumors and fan interest in a possible third movie going into production next year, there is no better time than now to do this.
Ghostbusters set the standard for a movie that combines elements of science fiction and paranormal with well written humor that appeals to a wide audience. The concept is simple enough and the use of scientific terminology makes the idea of capturing ghosts almost believable. Paired with a well written tongue in cheek humor that is perfectly accentuated by Bill Murray’s semi-improvisational style, one could make an argument that this is the best comedy of the 1980’s.
What makes the new theatrical release so exciting is that the generation that loves this movie the most probably never had the chance to see it in theaters. People old enough to have seen it in the original run no doubt enjoyed it, but the younger generation – who grew up watching the cartoon, playing with their toy proton packs (which owning one pretty much signified you were cool in the first grade) and drinking Hi-C Ecto Cooler – are the people with the greatest love for this film.
The franchise itself is still extremely viable. T-shirts are constantly showing up in hipster shops, the DVD’s are a staple of nearly every cine-phile’s collection, collector toys still get produced for the uber-geeks out there and a new video game was one of the best selling games of 2010.*
On a side note, the original NES Ghostbusters game is one of the trippiest imaginable. I played it for three hours yesterday in preparation of writing this column. As far as I can surmise, the entire game is driving around in Ecto-1 picking up useless Ghostbusting equipment left on the side of the road and then stopping for gas. Eventually you have to climb stairs and kill ghosts on the way to the top. By the time you get to this point, you usually just throw the controller at the screen go get a Jolt cola and some Cheez-its and go back to playing Contra.
No doubt this limited release into theatres is to drum up attention for the proposed third movie. Aykroyd has been developing the movie since the mid nineties. The original premise involved the Ghostbusters in an alternate version of Manhattan fighting the devil in what was tentatively titled “Ghostbusters in Hell”. The studio was never pleased with the script because the budget required for the special effects would have been astronomical. In the early part of the 21st century, Aykroyd consider making the film in all CGI (think Polar Express) with the original cast voicing the characters. This quickly was dismissed. Eventually his plot lines were used for the Ghostbusters video game released in 2009 for X-Box 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii. The new game proved there was still tremendous interest from fans for more Ghostbusters.
So why more than 20 years after the first sequel has the third still not been made? The answer: Bill Murray. The true star of the movie has been reluctant to agree to be in the film due to his personal distaste for sequels. It has even been rumored that getting him for the original sequel was very difficult. In an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman Murray was quoted saying he would return only “…if my character was killed off in the first reel.” Although many feel he may be softening on the idea to return to the franchise judging by his appearing in full Ghostbusters gear at the MTV Movie awards to accept his trophy for Zombieland. Although Aykroyd and director Ivan Reitman have said the movie will be made with or without Murray’s involvement, it will never be a real Ghostbusters movie without Dr. Peter Venkman.
The original movie is a classic no doubt. Re-releasing it for whatever reasons is the best thing to do. In an era when movies are being remade and modernized for no particular reasons whatsoever, it is refreshing to see a studio not mess with something that was already right. There are so many great movies that a generation of people only knows from watching it on TV. Nothing is better than seeing an all-time favorite on the big screen for the first time. Hopefully studios will see this and decide to capitalize on it. At one point there used to always be a theatre in every major town that would show classics at midnight. Bring that concept back! Show Ghostbusters, Animal House, Caddyshack, etc. from time to time. These classics have helped influence some of the great movies being made today. Seeing them on a big screen with a hundred other people just like it was released for the first time can boost the theatre business as well as inspire young film makers.
So with a new script approved (involving the recruitment of new Ghostbusters) and the original being re-released, there is hope that there will be a major public demand for the third installment to be made and Bill Murray will appease his many fans by participating. Until then, dust off your proton packs and find a fire pole to slide down because the Ghostbusters are back!
Brian J. Glynn is an amateur parapsycholgist who once tried to make a proton pack using a microwave and a curling iron. Although the resulting fire was relatively small, he is no longer allowed to modify small appliances for his own amusement.