The Movies That Made Us (2019) s01e03 Episode Script

Ghostbusters

1 [retro music playing.]
- [narrator.]
This man, named - Dan Aykroyd.
[narrator.]
has the absolute honor of stating I wrote Ghostbusters just because it's the family business.
- [all.]
Oh! - [narrator.]
Ghostbusters.
This slime-covered, stream-crossing comedy The concept was kind of a brand new idea.
[narrator.]
blew the roof off the box office and unleashed a supernatural, special-effects extravaganza.
Make him look like Belushi.
[narrator.]
But it wasn't a walk in the park.
It was an epic battle - against the clock - [clock ticking.]
We had only ten months to do this project.
[narrator.]
and a battle against the studio.
- Nobody wanted me to do it.
- Why'd we waste our money on this? [narrator.]
This slapped-together, ghostbusting mega-hit was written for stars at the top of their fame.
[Dan.]
It was me, John Belushi and Eddie Murphy were supposed to be the original Ghostbusters.
[narrator.]
As crew cracked under pressure We met him in the parking lot, - with a samurai sword.
- What? [narrator.]
with an unreliable cast.
Nobody knew where Billy was They were stoned a lot of the time.
[narrator.]
This is the story of how comedy legends - became the Keymasters of history - I am the Keymaster.
- [narrator.]
who unlocked a story - Let's ignore the problems, - let's just keep going.
- [narrator.]
and a song Messenger's at the door.
"I got no lyric idea.
" [narrator.]
unlike anything this world had ever known.
[man.]
My gosh.
That's it.
Who you gonna call? Ghostbreakers.
[opening music playing.]
[narrator.]
These are the movies that made us.
- This story of - Ghostbusters! [narrator.]
begins when three recently unemployed New York City scientists start a paranormal investigation and elimination service.
- Anybody see a ghost? - [narrator.]
As business booms, they set up shop in an abandoned firehouse.
- Wow! - [narrator.]
And hire extra staff Ghostbusters.
What do you want? [narrator.]
to help tackle the surge in paranormal activity.
[roars.]
But when a supernatural gateway is unlocked they face a terrifying, potentially delicious enemy in order to save the city from certain destruction.
I love this town! [narrator.]
Well, New York City in the '80s What's not to love? [honks.]
Clearly the world's most exciting city.
Where pop culture bursts into life amid a crime-fueled, money-hungry, coke-guzzling, hot-dog-eating haven.
Not only that [Dan.]
There was a big, popular movement in spiritualism.
It was all started by the Fox sisters.
They were very famous.
[narrator.]
The Fox sisters? What, these girls? [clicks.]
Oh, sorry.
Wrong '80s.
[tape whirrs.]
New York in the 1880s.
- Same as before, minus the hot dogs.
- [horse whinnies.]
And although they were mediums, the Fox sisters were huge.
Worldwide, they were very famous.
They could hear spirits and voices speaking from the other side.
[narrator.]
Well, on the other side of the American border, closer to the Canadian prairies than the Ethereal plane, Dan Aykroyd's interest in the occult goes back generations.
[Dan.]
My great-grandfather had seances in the old farmhouse, and he wrote journals where he would talk about the people that had come through town, the levitators, the telepaths.
[narrator.]
Dan's father even wrote the comprehensive [Dan.]
A History of Ghosts.
It's about trance mediumship.
[spooky music.]
[narrator.]
So, it's no surprise that Dan himself thinks of ghostly matters.
It's to be believed.
There is something there.
[narrator.]
And when it came to Dan's comedy chops, well, there was something there too.
Witches, warlocks, conjurers, sorcerers, black magicians, white magicians Are you having trouble mixing your potions in time for the winter solstice? [narrator.]
By the '70s, Dan Aykroyd left his supernatural upbringing behind him.
On his way to super stardom, joining Second City in Chicago and Saturday Night Live in 1975.
His brilliance was conceptual.
Here's the "Coneheads" guy, the Blues Brothers guy and the "Czechoslovakian Brothers" guy.
Two wild and crazy guys All these really big ideas.
[narrator.]
But Dan's biggest idea was yet to come.
And he'd find it in, for Dan Aykroyd, a very unsurprising place.
I had the American Society for Psychical Research journals, - lying all over the house.
- [narrator.]
Of course he did.
I just read this article on quantum physics and parapsychology and thought, "Wouldn't it be great to use all of the research that's being done, and do an old style Abbott-Costello, Bowery Boys, Bob Hope, ghost movie?" Ghostbreakers, Incorporated.
You make em, we shake 'em.
Bob Hope speaking.
[chuckles.]
And by virtue of my family's interest in the paranormal, I wrote Ghostbusters, just because it's the family business.
[narrator.]
And, like a family business, Dan recruited his brother Well, fellow Blues Brother, John Belushi.
It was really meant as a two-hander.
They were already working as a team in The Blues Brothers, and he was looking for some other thing.
[narrator.]
Belushi and Aykroyd were Saturday Night Live legends.
And since the late '70s, they'd already made four movies together.
But he was a big star at the time and we could have gotten the movie made on his back easily.
[narrator.]
But, like the movie, the original Ghostbusters were a trio.
And that third Ghostbuster I wrote it for Eddie Murphy.
I don't want to be drafted.
[audience cheers.]
If I get drafted, who's going to be the token black on Saturday Night Live? It was me, John Belushi, and Eddie Murphy.
Uh, we were the original supposed to be the original Ghostbusters.
[Dan's voice echoing.]
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters The morning that John died, I was I was typing a line out for him.
And, uh, I I got the call that that he had [stuttering.]
had gone.
So uh even though he wasn't there anymore, - I finished the movie.
- [narrator.]
With his best friend now gone, Dan would have to find another worthy star for his ghostbusting trio, that is, of course, assuming anyone wanted to make it.
And so, I handed it to my agent at the time, Mike Ovitz at CAA.
- Mike was very excited.
- [narrator.]
And why wouldn't he be? Mike Ovitz had a lot of talent on his books, including another Canadian, who he thought would be the right man to direct the movie.
That would be this one: Ivan Reitman.
I had got sort of a reputation of being tough at that time.
[narrator.]
And this self-confessed Ivan the Terrible began his directing career with a self-funded movie starring fellow Canadian Eugene Levy.
And we sort of wrangled nine million dollars Nine million? What am I talking about? Nine thousand dollars.
[crashes.]
See how I've changed? That was the budget of Cannibal Girls.
[film narrator.]
They're young beautiful and very, very sexy.
Cannibal Girls.
That was really the beginning of my, um, professional comedy career.
[narrator.]
On Ivan's long journey from Canada to Hollywood, he produced Animal House, starring John Belushi, directed Meatballs with Bill Murray, then directed and produced Stripes, again with Bill Murray and, this time, with Harold Ramis.
It turned out to be a terrific success.
Listen, if I get killed, my blood is on your hands.
Just don't get it on my shoes, okay? Hello? I was working with Ivan Reitman, and we were looking for a project after Stripes.
- [narrator.]
So, when Mike Ovitz said - [Dan.]
"Give Ghostbusters to Ivan.
" I knew Ivan from the '70s in Toronto.
To me that was the logical choice.
I said, "Absolutely, I hope he likes it.
" [narrator.]
And did he? The story is way too outlandish.
Outer space sci-fi monsters floating around in spaceships.
It was a world set in the future somewhere where Ghostbusters were a dime a dozen.
They were rather like plumbers.
[flushes.]
[Joe.]
And it was very long and very complex.
It just seemed impossible to make.
[narrator.]
But for Ivan, there was more to this script.
I always had this idea that there was a way of combining comedy with a larger than life, science fiction story, but told in a very realistic, naturalistic way.
And so, I suddenly saw a way of fulfilling this thing that had been swirling around in my head.
[narrator.]
Over lunch at this deli, Ivan served Dan a hefty slice of humble pie.
[Ivan.]
I said, "Look, I think this is a going into business story.
You've got three smart guys, and they get into trouble just at a time when it seems like there's these ghosts appearing in New York.
They trap them and they become famous.
- That was sort of what I pitched.
- [narrator.]
After careful consideration Well, I don't know.
I mean I And he said, "Sure.
" - Great.
- [narrator.]
Oh.
Okay, then.
I said, "Look, let's rewrite this, but let's break Harold in.
- Harold's really funny.
" - [narrator.]
But still, another writer? - Surely he was - "Sure.
" - Great.
- [narrator.]
Oh, okay.
Harold Ramis had an office across the street at Warner Brothers, and Ivan and Dan came back and said, "We're gonna go over and see Harold and see if he wants to work on this.
" [narrator.]
He did.
- "Yeah, he seems like he's interested.
" - [narrator.]
And good thing too because Harold Ramis was another legend of comedy, and although not a Canadian, he had written on all of Ivan Reitman's movies.
Except that one.
My dad was a great writer, and he was also a great director.
People loved working with him.
[narrator.]
And ever since Stripes, he was a movie actor too.
I'd like to try just one more time, and then we'll call it a day.
When Harold came on as a writer, he said, "I want to play a part in this.
" Nobody objected to that.
Are you kidding? We get Harold as a writer and performer? You know, one of the greatest to come out of Second City? Great.
- Thank you for calling.
- [man on phone.]
You called me, moron.
[Harold.]
I loved the premise.
Ivan and I really saw eye-to-eye on how to reshape the script.
He was a skeptic, he was not a believer at all, but we were a perfectly fused writing team.
[narrator.]
So that's two Ghostbusters down.
However, without Belushi, they still need a star for that third Ghostbuster.
But instead of Eddie Murphy Hello, I'm Bill Murray.
You can call me Billy, but around here, everybody just calls me "the new guy.
" Dan had said that Bill Murray would be in it.
[narrator.]
And why wouldn't he? At this point, the streams were well and truly crossed.
Rising to stardom at Second City with Belushi and Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd co-starred four years at Saturday Night Live.
And he'd even been in two movies with Ivan.
So, with Bill locked in, their comedy powerhouse was complete.
If, that is, Bill would show up.
[Joe.]
With Bill, it's always iffy, because he tends to not make his mind up.
I remember the trouble I had to get him to commit to Meatballs, and then even later to Stripes, after we had this huge hit.
So there was always this little sense of, "Yeah, I think he's in.
I mean, Danny says he's in.
" You know getting Bill to deliver Danny just kept saying Bill was going to do this.
We presumed he was.
[narrator.]
But hold on a minute.
For Bill or any of them to do it, they'd need to find a studio to pay for it.
So, I pitched immediately to Frank Price Chairman, President, CEO of Columbia Pictures.
The studio that had made Stripes.
[narrator.]
They hadn't just made it, they'd made a lot of money from it.
It's always good when you've jointly done a hit.
[narrator.]
Ivan's $10 million comedy grossed over $80 million.
So, when Ivan sat down to pitch Ghostbusters, Frank really only had one question.
He says, "How much?" I said and I didn't have any idea what it would cost, I knew that Stripes had cost ten million.
I still remember this.
Ivan held the script up, and said, "Feels like $25 million.
" And they didn't blink, they just said "Okay, you got it.
" I said, "We're going?" And he said uh - Yes.
- Yep.
It seemed as close to a sure bet to not lose money as I could get.
[narrator.]
And with that, based on an idea alone It was a concept.
[narrator.]
Frank Price greenlit Ghostbusters for $25 million We got one! [ringing.]
[narrator.]
with absolutely no strings attached.
- Um - [narrator.]
Except one.
You have to have it ready by June 8th, 1984.
This was May of 1983.
I wanted it for early summer, because it's where you can just rake in the money.
And not knowing any better, we said, "Sure.
Lots of time.
" [chuckles.]
Of course.
[narrator.]
It really wasn't.
I thought, well, we had to get writing.
[narrator.]
So the first thing they did was go to the beach.
We went to Dan's house for a month in the summer.
For Dan, Ivan and my dad to just sort of bang out the script.
They were under a lot of time pressure.
I do remember them filling the yellow legal pads with sort of longhand script notes.
We put this half-baked screenplay first draft together in about two weeks.
[narrator.]
Maybe not just the script that was half baked They were stoned a lot of the time.
[narrator.]
So, oddly enough, at the end of their grueling beach holiday It was an incomplete script.
It has leaps of logic, things that didn't work really.
We were trying to get our hands around this Keymaster/Gatekeeper idea.
I am the Keymaster.
I am the Gatekeeper.
[Ivan.]
They were just cool words, but most of it is still in the movie in some form.
[narrator.]
But something in the script was quite literally about taking form.
[woman.]
Choose the form of the destructor? - [narrator.]
And that part - Okay, so empty your heads.
[narrator.]
Well, Ivan couldn't clear his mind of doubt.
I was really worried about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
It was the one leap in logic that really concerned me.
[narrator.]
It was also one of the only things left from Dan's original script.
[Dan.]
He was a cross between the Michelin Tire Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Angelus marshmallow man, that was a product we had in Canada.
When the design team put the sailor hat on him, I fell out of my chair.
I just doubled over.
It was so funny.
[narrator.]
Despite Ivan's objections, the Marshmallow Man was here to stay, puffed or otherwise.
As were the hundreds of other effect shots that the ever-evolving script was producing.
We didn't know anything about special effects and how long they took.
[narrator.]
And that's why you hire a big-time special effects company.
The only real big-time special effects company in existence was ILM.
[narrator.]
ILM were the one and only big-time special effects company.
[Ivan.]
But ILM couldn't do it.
They were already going to work with Spielberg on the Temple of Doom movie.
[narrator.]
So, all the best minds in the visual effects business - were consumed.
- [slurps.]
So, they were gone.
[narrator.]
However, little did anyone know, trouble was brewing at ILM, and those troubles were having a special kind of effect on one of their star Star Wars employees.
I wanted to go off on my own.
[narrator.]
This is Richard Edlund, a maestro of movie magic, and he wasn't happy at ILM.
It had become kind of corporate and I didn't care for it.
[narrator.]
But guess what? He wasn't the only one.
Richard Edlund was leaving to come to LA.
I said, "If you find anything interesting down there, give me a call.
He said, "I thought you were married here.
" I said, "I'm married to the collection of dead presidents.
" [narrator.]
So, Ivan suggested that Columbia might advance quite a few dead presidents Five million.
- [narrator.]
Richard Edlund's way.
- to start his own company.
Uh, well You have to start laying out right now.
Well It suffered from the fact that it had stars and it had special effects.
And you had to pay for both of them.
The question was, can we get it done? It could be done.
And so, I was off and running.
I gave the word to the to the team.
Richard hired me on.
Richard called me and says, "Okay, it's on.
" He pretty much cherry-picked ILM, and that's how Boss Films started.
[narrator.]
Tearing the heart from ILM's core talent pool, Ivan suddenly had the best of the best, who immediately wondered How're we gonna do all this? From this moment on, we can't mess around.
So, I took the script and started roughing out sequences.
[narrator.]
Like all these ones that didn't even end up in the movie.
That was the early July draft.
[chuckling.]
Of of the script.
[narrator.]
As the drafts kept coming Ivan kept asking for more effects shots.
Keep in mind that we had only ten months to do this project.
And Richard kept saying, "No, no! I can't do anymore.
" [narrator.]
As the team began facing the reality of an unrealistic schedule, there was a much bigger problem.
Frank Price had a Coke problem.
Coca-Cola, obviously.
Coke is it! [narrator.]
Because Coke was it! As in, Frank's new boss.
Columbia was owned by Coca-Cola.
[narrator.]
Four months before Frank greenlit Ghostbusters, this corporate behemoth quite fancied themselves as movie makers.
But according to Frank They knew nothing about motion pictures, and didn't really care that much to learn.
[narrator.]
Such a shame, because Frank had a lot to teach them.
Since the late '70s, Frank had delivered hit after hit after hit for Columbia, but when it came to Ghostbusters They didn't want me to do it.
[narrator.]
But why would Coke want to shut down Ghostbusters? Because it was an expensive, special effects comedy.
"It will never make its money back.
" [narrator.]
And thus began a standoff between Frank and his new fizzy overlords who were looking to can Ghostbusters.
There was this tacit understanding that the Columbia board approved everything I did.
And once they didn't approve it, there was no point in me sticking around.
I should be elsewhere.
[narrator.]
But for now, Frank too was here to stay.
- Oh, yeah.
- [narrator.]
Puffed or otherwise.
However, none of this mattered to Ivan yet.
[Ivan.]
I knew we had to get going and that I had to start casting.
[narrator.]
With two big names, and one maybe already cast, there was one other big name that was proving really, really difficult to land.
We loved the name Ghostbusters.
[narrator.]
Well, bad news! That name was taken [theme song playing.]
by these guys.
We discovered that the name "Ghostbusters" was owned by a company called Filmation, which was an animation company.
[narrator.]
Most famously known for this after-school hero.
I have the power! Columbia was negotiating with them for the title.
Yeah, I mean we were struggling with the title, trying to pin it down.
Filmation, they weren't willing to give up the title.
I think they wanted more money than Columbia wanted to pay.
- No.
- [soda tab cracks, fizzing.]
Columbia kept saying, "You've got to cover this.
You got to cover it.
" Don't shoot it just as Ghostbusters.
Call it "Ghostbreakers" too.
[narrator.]
So, in case FIlmation refused to give up the name, the Coke-owned Columbia insisted the team shoot two versions Ghostbusters and Ghostbreakers.
[narrator.]
Despite these problems, with mere months until shooting began [Ivan.]
We had to get going.
I had to start casting.
[narrator.]
And to help Ivan, he brought in Karen Rea to cast the remaining spots.
Okay.
When I started working on Ghostbusters the word travels in town that you're on a hot script - with Bill Murray.
- [narrator.]
Well, maybe.
I think he's in I mean Danny says he's in.
Yeah.
So you get amazing submissions.
Okay, who brought the dog? [narrator.]
Every man and his dog wanted in on Ghostbusters.
For Karen, she was like a kid in a John Candy store.
We thought we were going to use John Candy in the Louis Tully role.
Originally, in the storyboards, we basically drew in John Candy, because that's who we heard was going to be this character.
- [crowd clamoring.]
- [creature snarling.]
But for whatever reason, the deal didn't come together.
He didn't like the part.
He wanted to play it a completely different way, and Ivan didn't agree.
- Bye, bye.
- Bye, bye now.
[Karen.]
And we just started auditioning other people, - although we didn't go far.
- Cut! I was thinking, "What if I was a cow and first thing in the morning, I have to give milk?" You know? - [bullet ricochets.]
- [audience laughs.]
[Karen.]
Rick Moranis came in to audition and he had his own ideas about Louis Tully.
Rick really created his character.
He said, "I want to play him as a nerd.
" I kind of see him a little bit like And a good, good morning to you, welcome back to the Jerry Todd show.
You shouldn't leave your TV on so loud when you go out.
The creep down the hall phoned the manager.
And that was it.
He nailed it.
At one point, they said, "Pee-wee Herman's going to be Gozer.
" [Pee-wee chuckling.]
[narrator.]
But Pee- wee was replaced by Serbian actress, Slavitza Jovan.
No thanks to Dan Aykroyd.
There wasn't a girl in the first draft.
Not even Dana? Ivan and Harold really initiated that.
Romance wasn't for me.
I'm not romantic.
[chuckles.]
[narrator.]
But Bill Murray on the other hand Is this a trick question? [Karen.]
We auditioned a lot of women.
We didn't necessarily want a name.
We just wanted the right chemistry to work with Bill.
But the moment we heard that Sigourney was interested we were open.
May I help you? Um [narrator.]
At that time, Sigourney was more known for alien busting.
Dallas? Are you kidding? Could we get her? [Joe.]
We were thrilled that Sigourney was willing to come in.
We thought of her as a very serious actor.
She came into audition And she said, "You know, those dogs on the roof, I think I should become a dog.
" I said, "What do you mean?" She gets on her hands and knees on my coffee table and starts howling and wiggling [roars.]
And she worked it.
Whatever I may think of that physical performance I think, "There's a good idea here.
" - [narrator.]
So, for Ivan's - Keymaster/Gatekeeper idea - [narrator.]
which were - just cool words [narrator.]
Sigourney unlocked an idea.
[Ivan.]
She talked about becoming possessed and suddenly I start thinking of this whole sequence of hands in the armchair - and how she could do it.
- [screaming.]
[narrator.]
So, as Sigourney opened the gate to Ivan's writer's block, the cast was complete.
Well, almost.
[Karen.]
The role of Winston at one point, we were talking about Eddie Murphy.
We figured we couldn't afford Eddie Murphy at that point.
- No.
- [soda can pops, fizzles.]
This is Winston Zeddemore, he's here about the job.
[narrator.]
But really, the role Dan wrote for Eddie was gone anyway.
Eddie got replaced by Billy, really, as the main comic voice.
[narrator.]
But there weren't just three Ghostbusters.
There were Four Ghostbusters.
[narrator.]
And there's an important reason for that.
We had to have someone from the outside to come in and observe this strange world we'd created.
[narrator.]
And that outsider was this man.
I'm Ernie Hudson, and I played, um, Winston Zeddemore.
Welcome aboard.
[narrator.]
A veteran of the small screen - It's over.
- [narrator.]
Ernie Hudson was looking - to make it big.
- Good luck to you.
I'd been toldif you can get in a major studio movie, and it's a hit, your life is going to change.
Light is green, trap is clean.
This was a big deal for Ernie.
[narrator.]
And a big part.
What do you mean big? [narrator.]
Well, in the first draft, Winston showed up on page 28.
He had a lot of really good lines.
This is a major production.
This is Hollywood.
[narrator.]
So, after just months of preparation, they turned up in New York City to start shooting, and everyone was ready to roll.
- [crickets chirping.]
- Well, almost everyone.
[Ivan.]
Bill was in France at the time while we were doing all this sort of prep work.
[Karen.]
He hadn't signed the dotted line yet.
So, there was a deal, but it wasn't 100% in place.
I had this nervousness that he wasn't really going to show up because I was taking Aykroyd's word for it.
And we don't know where he is.
We're about to start tomorrow, and we would like to get our first shot by 10:30.
Nobody knew where Billy was.
Lo and behold There he is.
Eight in the morning, he shows up on the set to go to work.
You know.
That's classic Murray, you know: an enigma, wrapped in an enigma.
[narrator.]
But wrapping was the last thing on their mind as they rolled cameras for the first time in New York City.
[William.]
When you're shooting on the street in New York, it's just a different feeling and it's another energy.
And these men are And the other cool thing was, because of Saturday Night Live, these guys were the epitome of cool.
And they were in their capital city.
And it was just such fun to watch people watch them.
[narrator.]
And there'd be plenty of time for people watching, because they were shooting double the footage.
Don't shoot it just as Ghostbusters.
[narrator.]
Still unable to clear the title "Ghostbusters" I'd been unable to do that.
[narrator.]
the team was shooting things twice.
At the firehouse, where they're putting up a sign that said "Ghostbusters" [Peter.]
You don't think it's too subtle, Marty? You don't think people are gonna drive down and not see the sign.
[tape whirrs.]
Well, they took that sign down, and they put another one up that said, uh "Ghostbreakers.
" [Peter.]
You don't think it's too subtle I said, "We can't do this every scene.
This is nuts.
" [narrator.]
But subtle it wasn't when a throng of extras assembled in front of Spook Central.
[Bill.]
I took a piece of the crowd, Ivan took a piece of the crowd, and we just started yelling at people what to do.
Hello, New York.
You guys stand here And Ivan got back up in the camera, you know, I'm shouting away at people.
We had 400 extras and they were all yelling [all chanting.]
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters [narrator.]
And Columbia, as agreed, expected them to do an alternative take.
Yes.
[narrator.]
Which, understandably, they weren't that keen on doing.
No.
[all chanting.]
Ghostbreakers, Ghostbreakers [narrator.]
But Joe had had enough of this nonsense.
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters [all chanting.]
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters Ghostbusters [Bill.]
I found a phone booth near the street.
I phoned Columbia [phone rings.]
held the phone up and said - [Bill over phone.]
Listen to this - [crowd.]
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters [all chanting.]
Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters [Bill.]
There's 400 extras out there yelling "Ghostbusters.
" We can't do this twice.
[narrator.]
And they didn't.
- From that moment forward - [men.]
Ghostbusters.
- [phone ringing.]
- would be the only name they answered to.
Ghostbusters.
What do you want? - It was now in Frank Price's hands - Yeah.
to get those name rights from Filmation.
[man.]
Would you two clowns get out of here and go get our next ghostbusting assignment? This is a great title, you gotta clear it.
[narrator.]
Unfortunately Things were rocky with Coca-Cola, so we agreed to part ways.
Ah! You thought you could win from us, huh? [narrator.]
So, if Frank was out, who would protect Ghostbusters from the black fizzy menace on high? I hope we can take care of this quietly.
Would that be it for Ghostbusters? In finalizing Ivan's contract, I gave Ivan a great deal of control over marketing so that nobody could step in and kill the project.
[narrator.]
As Frank faced unemployment very briefly.
I was offered head of Universal Pictures.
[narrator.]
What on earth would they do about the name? Let's ignore the problems, let's just keep going.
[narrator.]
And they did.
- Let's just keep going.
- [narrator.]
Get on with it, then.
No, we're going ahead.
- Let's just - [narrator.]
Okay.
Meanwhile, back in LA, the newly assembled Boss Films was hard at work.
Our approach was, "This is a cartoon.
" So, we overly storyboard and overly posed and we had some quite funny sketches.
Steve Johnson was hired to head up our creature shop.
He would just take the drawings and do these really funny little clay models.
[narrator.]
First out of the hot dog cart would be this iconic, green ghost.
My name is Steve Johnson and I did Slimer.
We had spent weeks, months, designing him, and ended up doing 12 before we finally agreed on one.
And the night before he was meant to be approved, all the executives were coming next morning to sign off on him, I get a note saying he's got to look like John Belushi.
"Make him look like Belushi.
" [narrator.]
Well, that makes sense given that [Dan.]
Me, John Belushi, and Eddie Murphy were supposed to be the original Ghostbusters.
His buddies, Harold and Dan, decided this was a way to keep him in the movie, as a slobby, obnoxious ghost, like his Bluto character in Animal House.
[woman shrieks.]
Oh! I'm a zit.
Get it? That's exactly what it was.
But I'm thinking "It's a smile with arms.
How do I get this to look like John Belushi? This is ridiculous.
And you tell me the night before?" This is insanity.
[narrator.]
Nevertheless Steve devoted all his energy and talent into transforming this green ghost into an appropriate tribute to the late Belushi.
I kind of didn't and told them I did.
And they said, "It looks great.
[chuckling.]
It looks just like Belushi.
" Hi, I'm Mark Bryan Wilson, and I was the performer inside of Slimer.
Slimer has a butt.
We had a small crew.
I think there was six people pulling triggers and stuff to manipulate the brows, the eyes and the expressions.
[Thaine.]
And with that much equipment around him, there was no way to make him move.
So, if you want to move Slimer away from you, you start the shot very close and then move rapidly back.
[shouting indistinctly.]
We kept saying, "Are we on the verge of stupid? Or is it really funny?" I mean, at that point, we were going so quickly.
Ivan was nervous about it, I remember that.
[narrator.]
And Ivan took those nerves back to LA with the release date hurtling toward them.
It's going to be June 8th.
[narrator.]
As the special effects crew scrambled, Ivan and his team shot almost all the interiors for those iconic New York landmarks in Los Angeles, much of it shot on location across the city like the basement of the New York Library.
Stay close.
[narrator.]
Well.
It's actually the LA Public Library.
Ready? Get her! [snarling.]
[narrator.]
The inside of this New York firehouse LA.
I think this building should be condemned.
- [narrator.]
It actually since has been.
- Wow.
[narrator.]
This hotel, both outside and inside, well, this is a fancy, Los Angeles hotel.
Hey! Anybody see a ghost? [narrator.]
And once they finished all their location shooting That wasn't such a chore now, was it? [narrator.]
they moved into Burbank Studios - for the remainder of their shoot.
- [Bill.]
We shot the rooftop stuff on the biggest stage in Los Angeles.
It filled the stage.
It was hard to figure out where to put the camera.
[narrator.]
Other less stream-crossing, portal-reversing, shaving-cream-dropping scenes They saved the shaving cream for Burbank.
[narrator.]
were shot on the soundstage too.
If something's gonna happen here, I want it to happen to me first.
[narrator.]
And it was here, on the soundstage, that there was no doubt at all that Bill Murray had shown up - and then some.
- [Dan.]
Boy, he was He He sure came through for us.
One of the greatest comic leading actors ever.
[Peter.]
He hits the piano key.
[plinking.]
- And he says - They hate this.
- [plinking.]
- [people laughing.]
And cut! I laughed out loud.
I remember Ivan saying, "Thanks to Mr.
Bruno, we have to do that again.
" That's the bedroom but nothing ever happened in there.
It was exciting to be there and watch Billy and Sigourney work.
What a crime.
Bill Murray was coming up with stuff off the top of his head.
Is this true? Yes, it's true.
This man has no dick.
The argument that I got into with Bill at the end of it Get him out of here.
- Bye.
- [William.]
me shaking a finger at him, most of that was improvised.
I'm gonna fix you.
I'm gonna get you a nice fruit basket.
I'm gonna miss him.
After shooting the ghosts, he comes out the door and says What a knock-about pure fun that was.
Okay, well, that's take one.
And take two, he comes out the door and says We came, we saw, we kicked its ass! Ivan said, "That's the one.
We're going with that.
" [narrator.]
Even those immortal words He slimed me.
Well, he said four other things.
"I've been gooed.
" [narrator.]
If they'd stuck to the first draft Bill wouldn't have said any of them.
Let's not forget, the line was originally meant for Winston.
You know, while we were shooting, changes were being made Of course, he would have liked his role to be bigger, but it happens.
A lot of the back story of the character was cut.
[narrator.]
When Ernie signed on, Winston showed up on page 28.
But during shooting, it became page 65.
Which is frustrating to me.
Oh, no.
[narrator.]
Leaving Ernie with questions.
[Ernie.]
How do I? Why am I not in that thing there, when I should be? How come I'm not there? Why am I here? [narrator.]
To help him answer such questions, Ernie didn't turn to the director.
[Ernie.]
Harold would always remind me that all this stuff you think is personal it has nothing to do with you.
I just work with these guys, I wasn't even there.
He'd say, "Ernie, you've gotta let that go.
It's alright.
It's all good.
" It's Hollywood.
[narrator.]
As the final day of shooting approached, June 8th was getting closer too.
Ivan Reitman was shooting by day and editing by night.
We would work until midnight, one o'clock in the morning We were trying to make a deadline.
[narrator.]
And those late nights paid off, because less than two weeks after they wrapped shooting I had the whole picture put together and we decided that the next week we were going to preview the picture.
We got to look at this with some kind of audience, even though we don't have any special effects.
[narrator.]
The crew were anxious to see the reaction of a live audience, but the film had some pretty big holes.
Does this pole still work? [narrator.]
So, they were careful not to count their chickens before they fried on a counter top.
Here's this noise in the refrigerator, and she goes over to the refrigerator [tense music building.]
and she opens the door [high-pitched droning.]
It said, "Visual FX goes here.
" [audience chattering.]
[screams.]
Well, the audience screamed.
[crowd clamoring.]
[narrator.]
The audience also seemed to react to an ominous marshmallow-y figure.
Well, at least the idea of him.
[Sheldon.]
That audience saw cars crashing into each other, and everyone looking like, you know, something's coming, but you didn't see anything.
[narrator.]
But there was one shot that made it in.
The first moment that head bobbed along, they just went nuts.
They went crazy when they saw this test shot.
We all went, "Phew.
" [Joe.]
The crowd went crazy.
It was one of the greatest screenings I've ever been to.
[Sheldon.]
It made us feel so good.
There was a sense that we're in on something and it's going to change the world a little bit.
[narrator.]
Well, for Ivan and everyone else working on the movie, the world was definitely about to change, and probably more than just a little bit.
Let's put it this way, if this Twinkie resembled the amount of work they had already accomplished, the size of the Twinkie they had left was scary.
It would be a Twinkie 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds.
Ivan decides he wants all these extra shots.
[coughs.]
That's a big Twinkie.
So I met him in the parking lot with a samurai sword.
What? [narrator.]
The screening happened in March, and the movie's release date was going to be June 8th.
[narrator.]
Only three months away.
How on earth would they get this done? Let's ignore the problems, let's just keep going.
[narrator.]
And that's what they did, starting with the effects, some of which they'd filmed right there and then on set.
A lot of the things we did were live effects.
[narrator.]
Like this shot.
Just wires.
[Ivan.]
It was really old-fashioned trickery.
[narrator.]
And this one.
There's a guy behind there, blowing a straw.
So when the cards start flying, we really did all that and it was complete.
[narrator.]
So, unlike these effects, Boss Films really had to get cracking on the rest.
I can't stress enough how tight the schedule was.
We put together the scenes that had the special effects shots as fast as possible.
The editorial department then sends us the scene then we order the optical elements.
I would design it, do the original work on it, then hand it off to him.
We would just shoot and send, shoot and send It's an incredible knot of creative activity.
[narrator.]
While Richard and Boss Films tried to untangle that knot, Ivan was tied up with another problem.
- We needed a song.
- [narrator.]
But not just any song.
A song that had the right rhythm, the right bop and beat to it.
[narrator.]
To get a song like that, who you going to call? Ray Parker, Jr.
[narrator.]
Great idea.
[Ray.]
I met with Ivan Reitman.
He was very adamant about the word "Ghostbusters" has to be in song.
- [narrator.]
Too easy.
- It's impossible.
[narrator.]
Huh.
Well, he'd really have to figure it out soon, because [Ivan.]
It was now the beginning of the final mix, and, of course, the movie was coming out shortly thereafter.
I'm worn out, tired.
The music came fairly easy, but I got no lyric idea.
What am I going to do? The messenger's at the door, and he's waiting.
I've got to do something.
And no matter how I sing it, it just didn't work.
Ooh, the Ghostbusters It just is not a good word.
Ghostbusters.
I remember the guys standing there with the phone number underneath.
And I guess at 4:00 in the morning, they look sort of like the bug guys you see on TV.
And each one of those commercials were saying, you know, "If you got a problem with the drains, call us" And I thought, "My gosh, that's it.
" Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters.
Ghostbusters [Ghostbusters theme song playing.]
Make a copy of it on the cassette, give it to the messenger, now let him in the door, and he takes the tape and he's off.
[narrator.]
With just a few weeks until the release, it looked like they were all set.
What about the Twinkie? [narrator.]
Oh, yeah.
[John.]
We would shoot tests and send them over to see if Ivan liked where we were going and then he just took them, put them in the movie.
There are some funky shots in Ghostbusters.
We just didn't have time to finesse them.
Go on to something else.
It was really intense.
Don't make the shot too long.
Twenty frames.
We don't want the audience to see how it was done.
[Ray.]
Ivan Reitman calls me at 3:00 in the morning and he's saying, "I've already taken the cassette you gave me, and flew it into the 35 millimeter matte.
About 80% of the shots in Ghostbusters were take ones.
We did not have time to do extra takes.
We just kept going.
It was almost to the last moment.
[John.]
Shoot and send, shoot and send Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week Pass after pass after pass [narrator.]
And with that Ghostbusters was done.
Close enough.
[narrator.]
After ten frantic months, they'd done it.
And as the dust settled, there was still one monkey wrench in the works.
[theme music playing.]
[narrator.]
All through production they'd failed dismally to clear the TV show name rights from Filmation.
Which was coincidentally a production company owned by Universal, which as it happened, was now run by this guy.
[Peter.]
Call it fate.
Call it luck.
Call it karma.
[narrator.]
Well now, they could call it Ghostbusters.
It was serendipitous.
I happened to go there and I was able to say, "Make the deal.
Give them the title.
" [narrator.]
Just in time, too.
What an exciting night for show business this is.
[narrator.]
June 8th 1984, as promised, Ghostbusters hit the big screen.
[Karen.]
I remember going to the premiere, and it was just really cute.
The guys were very proud.
They knew they had a winner on their hands.
[narrator.]
And the rest is history.
We opened and we stayed at number one for 13 weeks, or something crazy like that.
[narrator.]
And while the movie busted records, the record was off the charts, and was even nominated for an Academy Award.
Ray Parker, Jr.
On TV, the record flew up the charts.
It was just unbelievable.
Dogs and cats living together.
Mass hysteria.
[narrator.]
Worldwide, Ghostbusters grossed nearly $300 million and created a marketing frenzy.
Ghostbusters napkins, Dave.
[Dave.]
Let's see.
There you go.
[applause.]
[narrator.]
And surprise, surprise, bustin' even made Coke feel good.
From cereals to sequels, - animations, computer games - [computer voice.]
Ghostbusters! [narrator.]
and, of course, toys.
But that's another series.
For everyone involved in this comedy largely about death, it seems this movie might live forever, and that's pretty good for a simple going into business story, set in the greatest city on earth.
[Ivan.]
The idea of shooting in New York, was this very, very special thing.
- Perfect place, huh? - Beautiful.
There's something about the people and the architecture that were really important to telling this story.
[Dan.]
Yeah.
Most famous apartment building in Manhattan.
[Ivan.]
I love the surfaces of it.
The rooftop was perfect for building our temple.
And if you go into the park right over there - you can get a shot of this place - [Dan.]
Yeah.
[Ivan.]
surrounded by trees.
[faint screaming.]
Remember the church that the Marshmallow Man steps up on Nobody steps on a church in my town.
[Dan.]
Can't believe it's been 34 years since we were last here.
Look.
[Ivan.]
Look what we've got here.
[Peter.]
Hey we should stay here tonight.
Sleep here.
You know, to try it out.
This place is great.
There's no firehouse like it anywhere in the five boroughs.
It's got that beautiful cornice at the top.
[Peter.]
You can't park that here.
[Ivan.]
We drove the car out of here.
I remember that.
- [Dan.]
This is a working firehouse.
- [Ivan.]
Yeah.
[Dan.]
We blew the roof off it.
[Ivan.]
It was fun.
- [Dan.]
What a magnificent building.
- [Ivan.]
This was covered in scaffolding.
You know, the first shot of the movie is right on this guy's face.
Oh, wow.
I was present at an undersea, unexplained mass sponge migration.
[Dan.]
There would obviously be a ghost for sure.
This library's got a few.
[Ivan chuckles.]
[Peter humming, muttering.]
[Ivan.]
Harold, God bless him, I think he was just about here somewhere with the stethoscope.
[Peter moaning.]
[loud thud.]
[Ivan.]
He was so serious.
You know, he had that sort of really dry style in the way he performed.
This is big, Peter.
This is very big.
That's definitely something here.
Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head.
Remember that? That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me.
- Yeah, I miss Harold.
- Oh Yeah, absolutely.
[Ivan.]
Harold's role in Ghostbusters was very, very important.
What he did with his hair and what he did with his voice.
I looked at the trap, Ray.
Even though he was sort of the nerdy character, I've gotten messages from people saying, "I've identified with Egon.
I was the shy, awkward, nerdy kid, and here he was on screen, telling me it was cool to be a scientist.
" I collect spores, molds and fungus.
Harold Ramis turned out to be like a brother I never had.
I enjoyed Harold enormously because we laughed the whole time.
And um his intelligence was so impressive.
[narrator.]
In the years that followed Ghostbusters, Harold Ramis continued to write hit comedies, and in 1993, reunited with his longtime collaborator, Bill Murray when he wrote and directed Groundhog Day.
Nobody really knows what happened between my dad and Bill, but when they were working on Groundhog Day, it was difficult.
They just were not friends after that.
Bill just you know, would never sort of, um respond to my dad or acknowledge him, and it was You know, it was hard.
But, you know, he did dream about him from time to time and I think missed, you know what had been good about their friendship in the in the past.
Towards the end of my dad's illness, um, he was at home in Glencoe, Illinois, and Bill showed up at the local police precinct because he didn't know exactly where my dad lived, but he knew he wanted to see him.
So he went to the police and said, "Take me to Harold.
" And they drove him over with a police escort.
Egon, I'm going to take back some of the things I said about you.
[Violet.]
He and my dad sat together for a few hours.
You've You've earned it.
[Violet.]
You know, they got to make their peace right before my dad passed away.
[narrator.]
The legacy these Ghostbusters have left has influenced a generation, but for Dan Aykroyd, he was influenced by generations of Aykroyds before him.
What it did for me was to bring the research that my family had been doing since the 1920s into a complete full circle.
It was the completion of the research that the Aykroyd family started.
It was the ultimate result.
[narrator.]
And for Ivan Reitman, he really was the right man for the job and then some.
We were very cocky going into making this film.
There was a sense that it was a great story.
And perfectly told in a great city.
I'm really proud of what I did.
And, um it's lovely to be back.