Developed by Dan Aykroyd, Ghostsmashers was originally intended to be a comedy movie about ghost exterminators with the ability to travel through space and time and was to star Aykroyd, John Belushi and John Candy. But after Belushi passed away in 1982, and after Candy turned down the role of Louis Tully, director Ivan Reitman suggested Harold Ramis co-write a second draft of the script with Aykroyd, in an attempt to ground the latters overzealous original script. After a three week stay at Marthas Vineyard bombshelter the writing duo created the first true draft of Ghostbusters, which then went on to cast Bill Murray as Peter Venkman (the role originally intended for Belushi) and Rick Moranis as Tully. Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson were cast soon afterward in their respective key roles.
The movie, an adventure comedy interlaced with dark adult humor and horror movie undertones, was released June 8th 1984, earning $229.2 million. Re-released in theatres in 1985 Ghostbusters box office takings totalled $238.6 million, making it the most successful comedy movie of the 1980's. So successful had the movie become, especially among young audiences that American toy giant Kenner released a series of poseable action toy figures in 1986 based upon 'The Real Ghostbusters' cartoon TV series and the accompanying Marvel UK comic book, the former of which ran from 1986 to 1991. The Real Ghostbusters, which popularized the 'focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm' or 'class 5 full roaming vapor' from the movie, known affectionately by fans as Slimer, continued the success story of the Ghostbusters urging studio Columbia Pictures to pressure the producers of the original movie for a sequel. Director Reitman and writers and co-stars Aykroyd and Ramis were initially uncomfortable with the prospect but eventually agreed. Released in 1989 Ghostbusters II, which was markedly more child and merchandise friendly than the original movie earned $215.4 million at the box office. Unfortunately the movies wasn't met well by fans and critics and marked the demise of the franchise from the spotlight, with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, which was rebranded as the Slimer show, only running until 1991. A spinoff cartoon called the Extreme Ghostbusters was released in 1997, but was cancelled after its initial season, though it did win a Los Angeles Commission on Disabilities Award for its depiction of Garrett, a disabled character which featured in its main cast. Only the comic books have continued to carry the torchlight.
In 2014 the movie celebrated its 30th anniversary and was re-released in theatres and re-mastered on Blu-Ray. 2014 also saw a resurgent interest in the franchise when it was revealed that Aykroyd and Ramis, along with co-writers Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg and Etan Cohen had developed a script for a Ghostbusters 3 which would have seen the aging Ghostbusters pass on the torch to a new generation of 'Busters, with Dana Barrett's son Oscar, last seen in Ghostbusters II, rumored to be the leading new Ghostbuster. The script wrote out the character of Peter Venkman, due to Bill Murrays constant refusal to commit to the project which had delayed the project for over a decade. With the exception of Bill Murray, all of the original cast were eager to return with casting rumors and hopefuls including Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum and well known Ghostbusters fan Eliza Dushku (pictured below). Ivan Reitman was set to return as director with production scheduled to begin in 2015 when tragedy struck in February 2014 as Harold Ramis passed away.
The loss of Ramis caused director Reitman to 'take stock', which resulted in his stepping down from the directors chair to the position of executive producer. The script for Ghostbusters 3 was reworked in light of Ramis' death and a new director was sought. LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were first approached, as was Gangstar Squad director Ruben Fleischer, but each passed on the project. Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy director Paul Feig also passed on the project before instead proposing to reboot the franchise by genderswapping the main cast to four leading females. Despite having no script, no cast and only a feministically charged casting choice in mind, executive producer Amy Pascal green lit Feig's movie with a production budget of $154 million (comparatively the originals budget was only $30 million and its sequels was only $37 million), completely disregarding all of the work done to get Ghostbusters 3 ready for production. Months later Pascal was sacked from her position as the head of Sony Pictures in light of the notorious Sony Hack Scandal which revealed the racist slander she had used in her personal emails to describe high profile Hollywood celebrities. Despite Pascals sacking Sony Pictures are obligated to fulfill their contract with Feig and his reboot, despite growing apprehension towards the movie as evidenced by the delay of the reboots trailer by nearly three months. The trailer will finally be released next thrusday 3rd March.
Feigs reboot, which stars Melissa McCarthy, Kirsten Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones will also see all of the surviving cast from the original movie, including Bill Murray, appear in cameo roles. Semi-retired Rick Moranis however has decided not to cameo in the reboot, publicly stating that the movie didn't pique his interest. The reboot has attracted social controversy with the director having publicly called out anti-feminist detractors as misogynistic, which has rallied feminist supporters of the movie to champion the movie against criticism, regardless of whether said critique is misogynistic in nature or not.
Whether or not the Ghostbusters reboot proves to be successful Sony Pictures are keen to push the property having already opened a Ghostbusters museum of sorts in New York called 'Ghost Corps' (pictured above), the name of which is also said to be the title of a spin off currently be developed which is expected to star Chris Pratt and Channing Tatum, and will be directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
Last year the United States Library of Congress selected the 1984 original movie Ghostbusters for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".