With the long-awaited release of the new Ghostbusters movie, I thought it’d be appropriate to look back at the original 1984 classic that was essentially the first big-budget, special-effects-heavy comedy ever made. Starring comedy legends Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis, Ghostbusters filled out its cast with Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson (playing a role that was first purportedly offered to Eddie Murphy who turned it down to star in Beverly Hills Cop).
So much can be said about the history and impact of this film, but there are numerous books, articles and websites out there that better explore the subject, written by people more dedicated and more versed than I’ll ever be. So, I will basically just focus on all the New York locations used in the movie and what it was like to film in the city.
However, Ghostbusters is one of the few movies where I did absolutely zero original research in finding the locations. Generally speaking, even with the most popular, iconic movies that have been extensively studied and researched, there tends to be at least one or two locations that haven’t been identified by anyone (usually because a scene is very brief or a location is extremely difficult to pinpoint). But that hasn’t been the case with the Ghostbusters movies, thanks to the exhaustive Spook Central website, which has painstakingly identified every nook and cranny from the first two films, no matter how brief or insignificant.
Kicked off Campus
Taking out a Loan
The EPA Shuts Down the Ghostbusters
Ghosts Take Over NYC
Louis Talks to a Horse
The Final Battle at “Spook Central”
Director Ivan Reitman on shooting in NYC: “Shooting in New York is not an easy thing, You have the right to shoot on the street, but everyone has their own right to occupy and cross on the street as well. It can become chaotic unless you know how to handle it. Both Bill and Dan were very effective on the street. People love them, and they were not thrown by the energy and the thousands of people that would show up every day. It was a big party that needed to be controlled.”
The assembled crowds cheered the heroes by name, chanting “ghostbusters, ghostbusters!” Yet at that point in the production, the name of the movie was far from settled. The existence of the 1975 live-action children’s television program The Ghost Busters meant that first dibs on the title could be claimed by the show’s production company, Filmation. Columbia began talks with Filmation, but prepped backup titles should things fall through, including “Ghoststoppers” and “Ghostblasters.” Joe Medjuck reveals that when the crowd extras were chanting “ghostbusters” he called Columbia and held up the receiver, urging them to secure the title and avoid the need for reshoots.
The production crew closed north and south traffic on Central Park West and all crosstown traffic between 61st and 67th Streets. “It was the most extraordinary location,” remembers William Atherton, of the long stretch of improbably deserted New York pavement. “Central Park West for like, five blocks. And with all the lights, it looks like Triumph of the Will.”
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man