If you were driving down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles last night, and happened to see folks dressed up as Ghostbusters, fret not. There were no apparitions in the area that needed to be vanquished, but they were merely part of a group of die-hard fans who came out in celebration of Ghostbusters' 25th Anniversary. On June 3, 1984, the film was released and Ghostbusters-mania swept the country soon thereafter, with the film grossing $238 million at the box office and even Ray Parker Jr.'s theme song soaring to the top of the musical charts as well. To put that $238 million in perspective, if you adjust that 1984 gross for inflation against today's ticket prices, the film has an adjusted gross of over $507 million, a mega-blockbuster by today's standards.
Last night, die-hard Ghostbusters fans gathered to see the film up on the big screen in Blu-ray, also in celebration of the film's June 16 release on BD, and, while waiting for the film to start, fans were able to play the brand new Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which will also be released on June 16th in the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC formats. They had the game set up for fans to play in each of the formats and, while I'm not really a gamer and didn't take a crack at this next-gen game, I watched several others play and it did look like a beautiful game and it was great that original cast members like Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis leant their unique voice talents to this new video game. Along with playing the video game, fans were also offered the chance to submit their own application to be Ghostbusters themselves... so to speak. They had a video crew set up at the event and fans were able to make their own video application telling why they deserve to be a Ghostbuster themselves. The videos are part of a contest that we announced last week with the new website GhostbustersIsHiring.com, where fans can submit video applications for a chance to win such prizes as a trip to Comic-Con 2010 or to have your video included on the BD Live portion of the Ghostbusters Blu-ray disc. Another perk for submitting a video to the site is you get a $5 "trainee" discount good towards the Ghostbusters Blu-ray disc.
As if seeing this classic film on the big screen once more - and in 1080p high definition no less - wasn't enough, fans were treated by a special appearance by the film's director, Ivan Reitman, who came in to introduce the film to his fans, exactly 25 years after it was first released. Before he introduced the film, though, Reitman was generous enough to give some time to a few reporters at the event, myself included, and here's what he had to say during our mini-roundtable interview about everything from this original film to the upcoming Ghostbusters 3 that is currently in the works.
Director Ivan Reitman
It's been 25 years since the film has come out. What do you believe has allowed the film to survive for so long and still be a cultural icon?
Ivan Reitman: I think there's something about the combination of the actors, which is very very special. They are unique talents with extraordinary voices, individually, that seem to combine beautifully like a piece of music. That, I think, in combination with Dan Aykroyd's unique, crazy vision of this idea and this mixture of genres with real good comedy with kind of a legitimate, scary, science-fiction story. That was the first time anyone had sort of tried to do that. Mel Brooks had done it in a humorous way, a little bit before me, but I really took it seriously. I was always a horror and science-fiction fan, so I thought if I was going to do it, even as a comedy, I wanted to legitimize it for people who were fans of the genre so they could enjoy it as well.
How do you make a film that is 25 years old look awesome in HD?
Ivan Reitman: Well, I think the movie, if I don't mind saying so myself, has always looked awesome. I think the special effects were never great, but they were almost perfectly simple. It's really old-school visual effects in an all pre-digital age with a kind of lovely simplicity to it, but from a story and character standpoint, worked really effectively. We appreciate it, even if it can't be as fancy as some of the stuff we see today, but you know Laszlo Kovacs, the cinematographer, is one of the great DP's of all time and Elmer Bernstein is one of the greatest composers in history, who did the music, and we've already talked about the story. We made it very carefully. We didn't make it as a schlock-ola comedy and I think it's nice that, so far, it's stood the test of time.
There have been a lot of different editions of the movie out, so what did you want to do differently with this Blu-ray release that's coming out?
Ivan Reitman: Well, for me, the most important thing was that it was the best visual and sound representation of the movie. Columbia/Sony have gone to a lot of trouble to add a lot of the sizzle that now is sort of common with both the DVD and the Blu-ray experience. I think that's all good and someone that's lived with film all his life, I think it's wonderful because it's just more information for fans and for people who are interested and for history, that you can cram into a very simple device and the quality keeps getting better and better.
There is a big video game tie-in with the Blu-ray and the game almost feels like another sequel.
Ivan Reitman: Yeah, because I actually think that the combination of the Blu-ray release and the new game, sort of awakened the thirst of, at least, the creators of the movie, to start to re-think it more serious, the possibility of a sequel. It's something that's been dormant in our minds, really, for the last 10 years or so, and it did two things: it told us, wow, people really seem to be interested in this story and the characters in this story and, more importantly, it sort of reawakened the joy of working on this film. I took a lot of crap when we finally did the sequel, and I certainly don't think the sequel is as good as the original and it almost never is, except in really rare occasions. I remember making this sequel and thinking, 'Wow, this is really hard,' because we don't have the surprise in our pockets that we had. When we were making the original, I kept thinking, 'Wow. This is going to be great. People have no idea what we're going to be doing and it's going to be a magical experience.' It turned out to be that, and with the sequel, I kept thinking, 'Oh my God. We're going to get killed' (Laughs). There's no way to recapture the magic of the first one and we had sort of let a little too much time go by, from the first to the second, so on the cycle of people's interests, we were on the wrong part of the cycle. I'd like to think now that we're kind of back to a greater interest to it.
Ivan Reitman: No, for me, that actually makes me much more wary (Laughs). But it's really never been about the other movies. There have been a ton of sequels almost to all these historical big movies throughout the years and we've never done it. I mean, we didn't make our sequel until five years after and now it's been 25 years since the first one. It's not like we've been taking advantage of the powers of the movie.
3D is getting big now and there are a lot of 3D effects in the video game, so would you go a 3D direction with Ghostbusters 3?
Ivan Reitman: I think it's possible. I just saw Up, which is a lovely movie and really works and the 3D is done in such a subtle way and it actually works fabulously in it, so yeah, it's possible. But don't start writing that we're doing it in 3-D, because we don't know.
There is a new generation of comedic actors that are coming up right now, so would (Ghostbusters 3) be sort of like passing the torch on?
Ivan Reitman: Yeah. That is part of the story we're working on right now and we'll see how it turns out. One of the reasons that there isn't Ghostbusters 18 right now, is that we're basically this family that all have an equal voice in something, and the studio is one of five equal voices. The studio would've liked to make a bunch of them and we've been really quite selective. Really, any of us can kill it.
So you have Gene (Stupnitsky) and Lee (Eisenberg) from The Office as the writers.
Ivan Reitman: Yes. Except for an outline, I have yet to read anything. I think they're going to hand something in within the next month or two.
So what are your hopes, fears or anticipations for this third movie, especially since you want it to live up to the original or surpass it?
Ivan Reitman: Well, you said the most important thing. We certainly don't want it to be a disappointment to the people who have taken this very much to their heart. I take the responsibility, as the producer and director of the original, in a very legitimate and real way. I think the time is kind of right. I've just kind of felt that lately, so we've started this journey. The most important thing is that the script is good. I think we can find actors who can join the original group of actors to make something special of this.
So were there scripts out there for others sequels throughout the years that you shot down?
Ivan Reitman: Yes.
Were there a lot?
Ivan Reitman: No, not a lot, because it's always been a closed shop. I mean, there would always be people that would spec scripts that we wouldn't even look at, because we just didn't want to get into all the legal issues that you could imagine would come from that.
So where's the Ghostbusters 2 Blu-ray?
Ivan Reitman: I'm all for it. I'm sure there will be one, by the way. I think it's only a matter of time.
What does it feel like to arrive in a theater and see all these guys dressed up as Ghostbusters?
Ivan Reitman: It was reminiscent of the first time... (he turns to a group dressed in Ghostbusters uniforms) I was really excited, guys. Some of these guys, three of them, drove in all the way from Salt Lake City, apparently. Just showing up at a movie theater in the town that I live, seeing a dozen guys with the full regalia, really was thrilling. It also did remind me of the first day of shooting. I was on Madison Avenue, around 61st. We were working on the designs and the pre-production on that movie was very very short. It was kind of a magical creative process. Bill Murray, literally just arrived in town 24 hours before he started shooting. I had never seen him in an outfit. I had seen a couple of things in the costumer's place, just to see what it would look like, but suddenly I'm getting ready for the first shot and it was one of the montage shots, where they really start to get busy and the Ghostbusters song really kicks in for the first time. I look up and here come these three guys with all this crap on and it was the first time that I had ever seen that image and it was right in New York, right on a real street, on a famous street, with shoppers turning around like, 'Who the hell are these guys?' We shot it and I got this wonderful shiver of recognition of, 'Oh, I think we're doing something special.' That's what I thought and it's kind of nice, 25 years later to see that and get the same kind of lovely feeling in my spine.
After our chat, we all moved into the theater where Reitman introduced the film, much to the delight of the crowd, almost all of which were decked out in some form of Ghostbusters attire, whether it be just a simple t-shirt with the film's logo or the full attire, proton packs and all. Although I couldn't stay to watch the entire film, I just had to catch a little glimpse of the film in 1080p, and I must say, it does look and sound spectacular in high definition, especially on the big screen.
Well, that about wraps it up for my night at the Ghostbusters Blu-ray event. The Blu-ray disc comes out on June 16, as does Ghostbusters: The Video Game on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC formats. If you want a chance to appear on the BD Live of the disc, or win a trip to Comic-Con 2010, be sure to visit GhostBustersIsHiring.com to submit your own video application. Take care, folks, and happy Ghostbusting. Peace in. Gallagher out!