Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
"Who you gonna call?" If you had shouted that anywhere in the country during the summer of 1984, a multitude of voices would've screamed "Ghostbusters!" back at you.
The paranormal comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and directed by Ivan Reitman was an immediate smash with its mix of broad humor and special effects hitting a home run with kids and their parents. You probably remember the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man that nearly destroys New York, but here are some fun facts that you might not know.
When Aykroyd was originally writing his script for the movie he intended for John Belushi and Eddie Murphy to play Peter Venkman and Winston, the roles that eventually went to Murray and Ernie Hudson. Belushi died while he was still working on the script and the shooting schedule for Beverly Hills Cop forced Murphy to drop out.
John Candy was cast initially in the role of Louis, who becomes possessed by the Keymaster. Candy quit after Reitman wouldn't let him do the character his way, which included speaking with a German accent. He was replaced by Rick Moranis, who was Candy's longtime costar on SCTV.
It's all in the marketing. The initial advertising for the movie was simply posters with the "No Ghost" logo, followed by the Ghostbusters' car (Ecto-1) being driven around New York City without explanation.
After the movie opened, Reitman created a trailer out of the commercial in the film which gave a working 800 number. The number led to a message of Murray and Aykroyd saying that they were out catching ghosts. It reportedly received an average of 1,000 calls an hour every hour for six weeks.
Stay-Puft Marshmallows is not a real product, but in the movie there's a pack of them in Sigourney Weaver's apartment as well as a billboard on the side of a building advertising them.
Rietman was originally planning on doing a film version of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. When the director and his producing partners contacted Aykroyd about being part of the project he instead pitched them his ghost movie.
The famous theme song by Ray Parker Jr. was number one on the Billboard charts for three weeks. Parker has said in interviews that he was inspired to write the song as a jingle in line with the commercial in the film after he saw a TV spot for a local plumber while trying to overcome a bout of writer's block. Huey Lewis apparently disagreed with that version of events since he sued Parker claiming that the melody plagiarized his song "I Want a New Drug." The dispute was resolved by an out-of-court settlement.
On the DVD commentary, Rietman confirms that Aykroyd's original script was set in the future where there were teams of Ghostbusters all over the world, with sci-fi touches like the Ecto-1 flying, and would've been too expensive to shoot. Ramis, who co-wrote Animal House and Caddyshack, was brought in to tone down Aykroyd's vision.
Ramis originally wasn't going to act in the movie, even though he had previously starred with Murray in Reitman's Stripes. He joined the cast after he formed a close association with the character while writing the script.
Ramis' character Dr. Egon Spengler was named after German philosopher Oswald Spengler who wrote The Decline of the West, which argued that all civilizations eventually break down.
Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) was originally offered the role of Gozer the Destructor. After he declined, the role was reworked and went to Yugoslavian model Slavitza Jovan.
Michael Keaton was in discussions for both the Venkman and Louis roles but turned them both down. Chevy Chase was also considered for Venkman, while Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken were among those talked about as possible Egons. Comedian Sandra Bernhard was offered the role of the Ghostbusters secretary that eventually went to Annie Potts, while Michael McKean was one of the other actors considered to replace Candy in the Louis role.
A real jail was used for the scene where the Ghostbusters are locked up, and Aykroyd believed the location to actually be haunted.
The exterior for the Ghostbusters headquarters is the real Hook and Ladder No. 8 Firehouse in the famous Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. The location was almost closed as part of the city's budget cuts in 2011, but was one of 19 firehouses saved in a restructured plan by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The movie was the first to have veteran broadcaster Larry King appear as himself, while porn actor Ron Jeremy and pop songstress Debbie Gibson were both extras during the filming.
The scene where Weaver levitates was done in the same manner as a magician uses in a stage show. Reitman had worked with illusionist Doug Henning on the Broadway show Merlin and was familiar with how the trick was done.
Actor William Atherton, who plays the Ghostbusters' nemesis Walter Peck, has long claimed in interviews that for years after the movie was released he would have people yelling at him on the street for his treatment of Murray and company. He said that it even led to physical altercations in bars. Atherton went on to play sleazy reporter Richard Thornburg in Die Hard and Die Hard 2.
The ghost that wreaks havoc on the Sedgewick Hotel didn't have a name in the script. The model that was used on set was nicknamed "Onion Head" because of its smell and Aykroyd joked that it was the ghost of Belushi. Fans of the movie started calling it Slimer and the name stuck, eventually being used in the animated series that the movie spawned.
Unbeknownst to the producers, Filmation had made a short-lived animated series in 1975 called The Ghost Busters. Heading off a potential lawsuit, Columbia paid Filmation a fee for using the name.
Murray agreed to do the movie only if Columbia Pictures would provide the funding for a film version of the W. Somerset Maugham novel The Razor's Edge that he would star in. Murray's pet project was released later in 1984 and made $6.6-million at the box office. Ghostbusters grossed more than $238-million in the United States alone.
Paramount via Everett Collection
With so many different awards organizations announcing their nominations one after the other, it's difficult to remember how heavily to weigh each one's picks when filling out your Oscar pool sheet. Generally speaking, the BAFTAs are a fairly safe guide when it comes to the Best Picture category. Since 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has accurately predicted the Academy's top winners, with (even more impressively) only two discrepancies in Best Picture nominations throughout those five years (both in 2012, interestingly enough). Looking at this latest batch of BAFTA's chief nominees — which includes...
American Hustle,Captain Phillips,Gravity,Philomena,and 12 Years a Slave
— we're not especially surprised by any of the films included in as much as we are a bit displaced over the absence of one of this past year's biggest titles: The Wolf of Wall Street. By now, everyone with his ear close to the conversation is predicting that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the consideration rarely comes without honorable mention of Martin Scorsese's Wolf. Still, the satirical picture is far from awards fodder. Called far too "extreme" for the Academy's liking, the 3-hour tour de force of mortifying hedonism would be a far cry from an Oscar even without the competition of 12 Years. Instead, as suggested by BAFTA's list of Best Picture nods, organizations are leaning towards the safer, sweeter, more palatable, less controversial, and effectively less good spiritual counterpart to Wolf of Wall Street: American Hustle.
Hustle is a fine movie all its own — it's fun, dynamic, well-acted, and does indeed feel "lived in." But it falls shy of the artistic reach represented by fellow con man epic Wolf, to which comparisons are inevitable (you can hear a terrific discussion on the matter on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room). While we'd be hard pressed to deny David O. Russell's funny, campy, emotionally charged picture its due recognition of quality, the choice to nominate it for Best Picture over Wolf of Wall Street seems like a statement of fear: "We don't want to nominate that large, messy, outrageous picture that's got everybody all in a huff," mutters a nervous BAFTA. "But what about the one with the hair? That's sorta like Wolf of Wall Street, but cleaner. Jolly good!"
The choice is a scary one, if only that it suggests the possibility that BAFTA has veered away from Wolf of Wall Street due to the volatility associated with the movie rather than due to the quality therein. By this token, would a few more Armond Whites have robbed 12 Years a Slave of its nomination? How about a few more Neil deGrasse Tysons stealing the nod from Gravity?
Hopefully, the Academy will not emulate this aversion to Scorsese's movie — one that more than deserves mention, and would even take home a few trophies in a just system. Peruse the rest of BAFTA's nominations below (which also, obscenely, omit Her in the Original Screenplay category) and share your thoughts on the matter.
BEST FILM12 YEARS A SLAVE Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, Jonathan GordonCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De LucaGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David HeymanPHILOMENA Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward
DIRECTOR12 YEARS A SLAVE Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE David O. RussellCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul GreengrassGRAVITY Alfonso CuarónTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Martin Scorsese
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYAMERICAN HUSTLE Eric Warren Singer, David O. RussellBLUE JASMINE Woody AllenGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás CuarónINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Joel Coen, Ethan CoenNEBRASKA Bob Nelson
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY12 YEARS A SLAVE John RidleyBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Richard LaGraveneseCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Billy RayPHILOMENA Steve Coogan, Jeff PopeTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Terence Winter
LEADING ACTORBRUCE DERN NebraskaCHIWETEL EJIOFOR 12 Years a SlaveCHRISTIAN BALE American HustleLEONARDO DICAPRIO The Wolf of Wall StreetTOM HANKS Captain Phillips
LEADING ACTRESSAMY ADAMS American HustleCATE BLANCHETT Blue JasmineEMMA THOMPSON Saving Mr. BanksJUDI DENCH PhilomenaSANDRA BULLOCK Gravity
SUPPORTING ACTORBARKHAD ABDI Captain PhillipsBRADLEY COOPER American HustleDANIEL BRÜHL RushMATT DAMON Behind the CandelabraMICHAEL FASSBENDER 12 Years a Slave
SUPPORTING ACTRESSJENNIFER LAWRENCE American HustleJULIA ROBERTS August: Osage CountyLUPITA NYONG’O 12 Years a SlaveOPRAH WINFREY The ButlerSALLY HAWKINS Blue Jasmine
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILMGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás CuarónMANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William NicholsonPHILOMENA Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff PopeRUSH Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter MorganSAVING MR. BANKS John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue SmithTHE SELFISH GIANT: Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCERCOLIN CARBERRY (Writer), GLENN PATTERSON (Writer) Good VibrationsKELLY MARCEL (Writer) Saving Mr. BanksKIERAN EVANS (Director/Writer) Kelly + VictorPAUL WRIGHT (Director/Writer), POLLY STOKES (Producer) For Those in PerilSCOTT GRAHAM (Director/Writer) Shell
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGETHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge SørensenBLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR Abdellatif Kechiche, Brahim Chioua, Vincent MaravalTHE GREAT BEAUTY Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca CimaMETRO MANILA Sean Ellis, Mathilde CharpentierWADJDA Haifaa Al-Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
DOCUMENTARYTHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua OppenheimerTHE ARMSTRONG LIE Alex GibneyBLACKFISH Gabriela CowperthwaiteTIM’S VERMEER Teller, Penn Jillette, Farley ZieglerWE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Alex GibneyANIMATED FILMDESPICABLE ME 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre CoffinFROZEN Chris Buck, Jennifer LeeMONSTERS UNIVERSITY Dan Scanlon
ORIGINAL MUSIC12 YEARS A SLAVE Hans ZimmerTHE BOOK THIEF John WilliamsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Henry JackmanGRAVITY Steven PriceSAVING MR. BANKS Thomas Newman
CINEMATOGRAPHY12 YEARS A SLAVE Sean BobbittCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Barry AckroydGRAVITY Emmanuel LubezkiINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Bruno DelbonnelNEBRASKA Phedon Papamichael
EDITING12 YEARS A SLAVE Joe WalkerCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Christopher RouseGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Mark SangerRUSH Dan Hanley, Mike HillTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Thelma Schoonmaker
PRODUCTION DESIGN12 YEARS A SLAVE Adam Stockhausen, Alice BakerAMERICAN HUSTLE Judy Becker, Heather LoefflerBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Howard CummingsGRAVITY Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne WoodlardTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn
COSTUME DESIGNAMERICAN HUSTLE Michael WilkinsonBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Ellen MirojnickTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine MartinTHE INVISIBLE WOMAN Michael O’ConnorSAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi
MAKE UP & HAIRAMERICAN HUSTLE Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-BellBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Kate Biscoe, Marie LarkinTHE BUTLER Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace NealTHE GREAT GATSBY Maurizio Silvi, Kerry WarnTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater
SOUNDALL IS LOST Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian ArthurCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver TarneyGRAVITY Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris MunroINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg OrloffRUSH Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTSGRAVITY Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki PennyTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric ReynoldsIRON MAN 3 Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan SudickPACIFIC RIM Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel SumnerSTAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett
BRITISH SHORT ANIMATIONEVERYTHING I CAN SEE FROM HERE Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam TaylorI AM TOM MOODY Ainslie HendersonSLEEPING WITH THE FISHES James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa
BRITISH SHORT FILMISLAND QUEEN Ben Mallaby, Nat LuurtsemaKEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina LimORBIT EVER AFTER Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len RowlesROOM 8 James W. Griffiths, Sophie VennerSEA VIEW Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot