Ghostbusters II
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Ghostbusters II

Ghostbusters II
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson face the viewer. They are armed with slime throwing weapons resembling guns, with large tanks on their back. Behind them is a large logo of a "no ghosts" sign holding up two fingers. The logo "Ghostbusters II" is printed beneath them.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Produced byIvan Reitman
Written by
Based on
Characters
by
  • Dan Aykroyd
  • Harold Ramis
Starring
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyMichael Chapman
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 16, 1989 (1989-06-16)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30--40 million
Box office$215.4 million

Ghostbusters II is a 1989 American fantasy comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts. It is the sequel to the 1984 film Ghostbusters and the second film in the Ghostbusters franchise. Set five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have been sued and put out of business after the destruction caused during their battle with the demi-god Gozer. When a new, powerful, paranormal threat emerges, the Ghostbusters reform to combat it and save the world.

After the phenomenal success of Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures wanted a sequel but struggled to overcome objections from the cast and crew. As with the first film, Aykroyd and Ramis collaborated on the script, which went through many variations. The pair wanted to convey a message about the consequences of negative human emotions in large cities. They settled on the idea of negative feelings creating a mass of supernatural slime beneath New York City, which empowers malevolent spirits. On an approximate $30-40 million budget, filming took place between November 1988 and March 1989 on locations in New York City and Los Angeles. Production was rushed compared to the original film's 13-month cycle; large sections of the film were scrapped after poorly received test screenings. New scenes were written and filmed during re-shoots between March and April 1989, only two months before its release.

Ghostbusters II was released on June 16, 1989, to generally negative reviews. Critics responded unfavorably to what they perceived as largely a copy of the original and a softening of its cynical, dark humor to be more family-friendly. The performances of Peter MacNicol and Moranis were repeatedly singled out for praise. As the sequel to the highest-grossing comedy film, Ghostbusters II was expected to dominate the box office but the film earned $215.4 million during its theatrical run compared with the original's $282.2 million, making it the eighth-highest-grossing film of the year. Columbia Pictures deemed it a financial and critical failure, the effect of which dissuaded Murray from participating in a third Ghostbusters film. Its soundtrack single, "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown, was a success, spending 20 weeks on the United States music charts.

Ghostbusters II failed to replicate the cultural impact and following of Ghostbusters. Although some contemporary audiences appreciated the film, Ghostbusters II is generally seen as a poor follow-up to Ghostbusters and responsible for stalling the franchise for decades. The film spawned a series of merchandise including video games, board games, comic books, music, toys, and haunted houses. Following attempts to develop a sequel and a financially unsuccessful and controversial 2016 series reboot, a direct sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, is scheduled for release in 2020.

Plot

Five years after saving New York City from destruction by the demigod Gozer, the Ghostbusters have been sued for the property damage incurred and barred from investigating the supernatural, forcing them out of business. Raymond Stantz owns an occult bookstore and works as a children's entertainer alongside Winston Zeddemore. Egon Spengler works in a laboratory experimenting with human emotions, and Peter Venkman hosts a television show about psychics.

Dana Barrett, Peter's ex-girlfriend, has an infant son named Oscar with her ex-husband and works at an art museum cleaning paintings. She turns to the Ghostbusters for help after Oscar's baby stroller rolls, seemingly by itself, into a busy road intersection. At the museum, a portrait of Vigo the Carpathian, a brutal, sixteenth-century tyrant and powerful magician, comes to life and enslaves Dana's boss Janosz Poha. Vigo orders Janosz to bring him a child to possess, allowing him to live again and rule the world.

Meanwhile, the Ghostbusters excavate the intersection where Oscar's stroller stopped and discover a river of slime running through the abandoned Beach Pneumatic Transit system. Raymond obtains a sample but is attacked by the slime and accidentally kicks a power line, causing a citywide blackout. The Ghostbusters are arrested and taken to court for the damage and for investigating the supernatural. In the courtroom, the slime sample reacts to the judge's angry outburst, releasing the ghosts of two brothers he sentenced to death. The Ghostbusters capture the ghosts in exchange for a dismissal of the charges and the revocation of the order banning them from operating.

One night, the slime invades Dana's apartment, attacking her and Oscar. She seeks refuge with Peter and they rekindle their relationship. The Ghostbusters discover the slime reacts to emotions and suspect it has amassed from the negative attitudes of New Yorkers. While Peter and Dana have dinner, Egon, Raymond, and Winston explore the underground river of slime and are pulled in. They begin fighting until Egon realizes they are being influenced by the slime. They determine that the river of slime flows to the museum.

The Ghostbusters tell the mayor of their suspicions but are dismissed; his assistant Jack Hardemeyer has them committed to a psychiatric hospital to protect the mayor's political interests. A spirit in the form of Janosz kidnaps Oscar and Dana pursues them to the museum, which is covered with impenetrable slime. On New Year's Eve, the slime rises to the streets, causing widespread chaos.

Learning of Hardemeyer's actions, the mayor fires him and has the Ghostbusters released. Determining the need for a positive symbol to rally the citizens and weaken the slime, the Ghostbusters use positively charged slime to animate the Statue of Liberty and pilot it through the streets. At the museum, the slime partially recedes and they use the Statue's torch to break through the ceiling, stopping Vigo from completing his possession of Oscar.

Janosz is neutralized with positive slime but Vigo takes on physical form, immobilizes Dana and the Ghostbusters, and recaptures Oscar. A chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" sung by people outside neutralizes the slime, weakening Vigo and forcing him to return to the painting and free the Ghostbusters. Vigo possesses Raymond, but the Ghostbusters use their weapons to free him and destroy Vigo, his portrait being replaced by their likenesses surrounding Oscar. In the aftermath, the Ghostbusters are cheered by the city and the Statue of Liberty is returned to Liberty Island.

Cast

In addition to the main cast, Ghostbusters II features Wilhelm von Homburg as Vigo the Carpathian (voiced by Max von Sydow). Several relatives of the cast and crew appear in the film; Murray's brother Brian Doyle-Murray plays the Ghostbusters' psychiatric doctor, Aykroyd's niece Karen Humber portrays a schoolchild, and director Ivan Reitman's children Jason and Catherine portray, respectively, the rude child at the opening birthday party and a girl with a puppy that is part of Egon's experiments.[1] Reitman cameos as a pedestrian.[2] Judy Ovitz, wife of talent agent Michael Ovitz who represented many of the principal cast, appears as a woman in a restaurant who is slimed.[1]

Mary Ellen Trainor appears as the host of a children's party, Cheech Marin plays a dock supervisor, and Philip Baker Hall portrays the city police chief.[1]Bobby Brown (credited as Bobby Baresford Brown), who contributed to the film's soundtrack, cameos as a doorman.[3]Ben Stein plays a public works official for the mayor, and Louise Troy appears as a woman wearing a possessed fur coat.[1]

Production

Development

Then-Columbia Pictures executive David Puttnam was blamed for Ghostbusters IIs lengthy production, though director Ivan Reitman said it was more the fault of the reluctant cast and crew.[4]

After the massive success of Ghostbusters, a sequel was considered an inevitability even though that film had been developed as a stand-alone project.[5][6] The development of Ghostbusters II was arduous, and the behind-the-scenes conflicts were given as much coverage in the press as the film. In particular, David Puttnam, who became chairman of Columbia Pictures in June 1986,[7] was reported to have been removed from his job for alienating Murray and his talent agent Michael Ovitz. Puttnam had publicly criticized Murray for allegedly taking from Hollywood without giving back.[8][9] He also attacked expensive talent agency packages that provided scripts, directors, and stars; Ovitz also represented Aykroyd, Ramis, and Reitman.[10] Puttnam favored smaller films such as the critically acclaimed war film Hope and Glory (1987) and the comedy film Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) over big-budget blockbusters. He also greenlit several foreign-language films by European directors because he preferred making films for the "world market". Puttnam was not interested in developing an expensive sequel to Ghostbusters despite its success.[7] Others suggested Ghostbusters was part of former Columbia executive Frank Price's legacy, and Puttnam would have had no interest in furthering that legacy while building his own.[11]

Reitman later said the delay in development was not Puttnam's fault and that executives above Puttnam at Columbia's New York branch had attempted to work around him because they thought he was holding up the project, but they discovered they could not get the production moving even after sidelining him. According to Reitman, the delay occurred because the main actors did not want to make a sequel for nearly three years; by the time they decided to go ahead, Murray was committed to his starring role in the Christmas comedy film Scrooged (1988). When Murray was finally ready, the script was not.[8] As co-creators, Reitman, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis all had control over the franchise, and their unanimous approval was required to proceed.[4][12]

In April 1987, Puttnam announced that Ghostbusters II would go into production in November that year without having informed Reitman, who had not yet reviewed the unfinished script.[13][14] In September 1987, Puttnam left Columbia and was replaced as its president by Dawn Steel.[15][7] When she took the job, her corporate bosses made it clear that getting the sequel into production was a priority.[9] Columbia had experienced a long series of box-office failures since Ghostbusters.[9]Ghostbusters II was seen as the best way of reversing their fortunes.[9] By November 1987, filming was scheduled to begin in summer the following year. At the time, Murray reportedly wanted $10 million to star in the sequel and his co-stars demanded an equal amount.[16][17]

The main obstacle was the disputes between the principal cast and crew that had arisen since Ghostbusters. Ramis later said, "there was a little air to clear" before they could work together.[9] In March 1988,[11] Ovitz arranged a private dinner for himself, Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Reitman, and Ovitz's colleague, CAA head of business affairs Ray Kurtzman, at Jimmy's, a celebrity restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. Concerns were raised such as whether the principals could still carry the sequel because Murray had been away from films for so long and Aykroyd had experienced a series of film failures. During the dinner, the group had fun and decided they could work together.[9] After this, the film was rushed into production, with filming scheduled for Summer 1988 in anticipation of a mid-1989 release.[11][17]

Months of negotiations followed the lunch with Reitman, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis to negotiate a minimal salary in exchange for a percentage of the box office profits.[9][11] The deal was reported to be 10% of the box office profits each; Reitman refuted the figure being that large but said, "it's a big one".[8][11] This was done to keep the budget low, aiming for approximately $30 million, whereas upfront salaries would have raised it closer to $50 million.[9] Despite the five years it took to produce a sequel and its necessity for special effects, Ghostbusters II had a shorter schedule than its predecessor's one-year turnaround.[8][18]Michael C. Gross and producer Joe Medjuck returned for the sequel, each being promoted to producer. Michael Chapman replaced László Kovács as cinematographer, and Bo Welch replaced John DeCuir as production designer.[19]

Writing

Folklore about the existence of fairy rings--naturally occurring rings or arcs of mushrooms--and their ties to the supernatural were present in Aykroyd's early draft.[18][20]

Aykroyd described his first draft as "really too far out... too inaccessible".[18][20] He wanted to eschew New York City, set the film overseas and provide a contrast to the first film's climax atop a skyscraper by making a subterranean threat.[20] This draft followed Dana Barrett, who is kidnapped and taken to Scotland, where she discovers a fairy ring--a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms sometimes linked in folklore to fairies or witches--[21]and an underground civilization.[18][20] The Ghostbusters would have had to travel through an underground pneumatic tube over 2,000 miles long that would have taken three days to traverse.[20] He eventually decided that retaining the New York setting would allow for continuity and would better fit the story he wanted to tell while still allowing them to explore underground.[20]

As with Ghostbusters, Aykroyd partnered with Ramis to refine the script. Early on, they decided Ghostbusters II should reflect the five-year passage of time between the two films.[20] Ramis suggested the story focus on a baby because he had previously developed a horror film concept centered on an infant who possessed adult agility and focus. This inspired him to create the character Oscar.[18] Initially, the child was the son of Peter Venkman and Dana, who would have maintained their relationship in the intervening years. The child would have become possessed as a focal point of the film; Murray felt this created an imbalance in the story, placing too much emphasis on his and Dana's relationship with the child rather than the Ghostbusters and their character dynamics.[22] Instead, they chose to have Peter's and Dana's relationship fail, allowing her to marry, have a child and be divorced by the events of Ghostbusters II.[23] Ramis wanted to show that the Ghostbusters had not thrived following their victory in the previous film; he considered this to be a more original concept than them remaining heroes.[24]

The river of slime was conceived early in their collaboration.[18] Ramis wanted the slime beneath New York to present a moral issue caused by the build-up of negative human emotions in large cities;[18][24] he considered it a metaphor for urban decay and a call to deliver a human solution, though he said this was buried deeply in the script.[9] The pair wanted negative emotions to have consequences and found humor in New York City having to be nice or face destruction, though at this point they did know what form the destructor would take.[24] Ramis said; "Comedically, it suggested, what if everyone in New York City had to be nice for forty-eight hours?".[9] Aykroyd said they wanted to show negativity has to go somewhere, potentially into the person the emotion is directed towards. He felt this made the film more grounded compared with dealings with gods.[19] He said; "cities everywhere are dangerous. Life has become cheap. You can go to ... see a movie and get machine-gunned on the street".[18] The story evolved far from Ramis' and Aykroyd's combined efforts but retained the core notion of emotions and their impact.[23] By May 1987, Aykroyd and Ramis had been working for over a year,[13] and had completed the screenplay by March 1988.[17]

In the years since the release of the more adult-oriented Ghostbusters, its animated spin-off television series The Real Ghostbusters had become incredibly popular with its target child audience. The team were tasked with balancing the needs of Ghostbusters fans and those of the cartoon's audience.[11] According to Medjuck, the cartoon's success was influential in the return of Slimer for the sequel, and they aimed to avoid contradicting the cartoon where possible; he said although the Ghostbusters have been out of work for five years, they had to act as though the cartoon's events took place after the film.[25] Medjuck noted that characters are often seen smoking in Ghostbusters but a societal change in the intervening years meant this was no longer acceptable; Ghostbusters II does not depict any smoking.[25]

Cast and crew

Max von Sydow provided the voice of Vigo the Carpathian.

Despite the time taken to get the original cast on board, in a 1987 interview, Puttnam assured the public in a 1987 interview that despite reports he was considering making a sequel with a lower-salaried crew and his documented disdain for Murray that re-casting was not an option.[9][13]

Ghostbusters II was to be the first sequel film Reitman had directed, and he was worried about being able to surprise the audience without relying on elaborate special effects. He wanted to focus on character interaction, believing that was the original film's main draw.[6] Ramis was apprehensive about returning to the franchise because of the overwhelming success of Ghostbusters.[6] Murray was also hesitant; he had left acting for four years following the release of the previous film. He described Ghostbusters success as a phenomenon that would forever be his biggest accomplishment and felt "radioactive" after the failure of his personal project The Razor's Edge (1984). He chose to avoid making movies until he returned for Scrooged.[26][9] Murray was also dismissive of sequels in general, believing they exist only for "greed" or "business" reasons, the latter of which he said should carry a death sentence. He said he returned for the sequel because "working on the first Ghostbusters was the most fun any of us had".[6]

The character of Janosz Poha, portrayed by Peter MacNicol, was originally called Jason and serves as a straight man to the Ghostbusters [27] MacNicol said the role could be played by anyone so he opted to give Poha a backstory in which he is Carpathian. He developed the accent from his Czech friend and from observations at a Romanian tourist agency.[28][29] MacNicol wanted to wear a black Beatles wig but the idea was rejected because many of the cast had dark hair.[30] The character's accent was inspired by that of Meryl Streep in the film Sophie's Choice (1982). In the script, Poha is not described as having an accent but MacNicol impressed Reitman with it at his audition.[2]

Max von Sydow provided the voice of Vigo; he completed his recordings in a single day.[2] Von Homburg reportedly only learned his voice had been dubbed with von Sydow's while watching the premiere and stormed out shortly afterward.[31] He later said his slurred voice, which was caused by a split lip, had been a hindrance in securing acting work.[32]Eugene Levy was cast as Louis' cousin Sherman, an employee at the psychiatric ward in which the Ghostbusters are imprisoned. The character was instrumental in their liberation but his scenes were cut.[33][11]

Filming

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House served as the exterior of the Manhattan Museum of Art.

Reitman began working on Ghostbusters II almost immediately after concluding directing his comedy film Twins (1988).[6]Principal photography began on November 28, 1988, in New York City.[11][6] The budget was reported to be between $30 million and $40 million.[9][34] Filming in New York lasted approximately two weeks and consisted mostly of exterior shoots.[6][23]

The city authorities were supportive of the project, granting the crew permission to film on the Manhattan borough's Second Avenue, which had restricted access for forty city blocks because of the visit of leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.[23] Other locations include the Statue of Liberty[35] and Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8, the latter of which again served as the exterior of the Ghostbusters' headquarters. The updated Ghostbusters' business logo, which was gifted to the firehouse staff after filming, was hung on the outside of the building but eventually fell off.[36]

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House served as the exterior of the Manhattan Museum of Art, which housed the Vigo painting.[37] The scene of Aykroyd's, Ramis', and Hudson's characters emerging from a manhole covered in slime was filmed in front of the building. When he wrote the scene, Ramis expected the production to use a manhole but the only available underground location was a telephone conduit. Space in the hole was limited and the actors had to squeeze into it while covered in slime; freezing temperatures combined with the liquid slime made the actors very uncomfortable. The following day, they learned the cameras had been recording at the wrong speed and they would have to film the scene again.[38] The scene of the Ghostbusters scanning the intersection where Oscar's possessed baby carriage is taken was filmed on First Avenue.[6]

Filming had moved to Los Angeles, California, by late December 1988.[6]Fire Station No. 23 again served as the interior of the Ghostbusters' headquarters.[39][40]Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills was used for the scene in which the Ghostbusters visit the mayor at Gracie Mansion.[41] The scene in which the Ghostbusters dig a hole to find the river of slime was filmed in downtown Los Angeles.[9] The scene in which a fur coat comes to life and runs away was filmed on a Los Angeles street; it was written for the original film but was not used and repurposed for Ghostbusters II.[2][38] Filming officially concluded on March 7, 1989.[11]

Post-production

The Washington Square Arch was featured in re-shoots as the site of a slime-powered ghost attack. Thousands of civilians attended the recorded and were used in the film, shown running away from the arch.

Following test screenings, the principal crew realized there were issues with the film that had to be changed.[42][43] Reitman said when he was watching the test version he realized the final 25 minutes of the film "just died a horrible death", and they spent four days filming a new 25-minute ending to replace it.[43] Medjuck said the test screenings identified that audiences liked the film but felt Vigo did not present a real challenge to the Ghostbusters and that their victory was achieved too easily.[42] Test audiences also thought Vigo, the slime, and the associated ghosts were not sufficiently connected.[44] According to Gross, the audiences were not aware of the concepts of positive and negative slime, so scenes were added to better explain this.[45]

Extensive re-shoots were conducted throughout March and April 1989, only two months before the film's release; these included additional on-location filming in New York.[46][11][9]Ghostbusters II had been scheduled for release on the July 4th holiday weekend but Reitman felt June 23 would work better. When they learned the superhero film Batman was also being released that day, they asked to move to the 16th. According to Gross, "Joe Medjuck and I were turning pale ... it did not look possible ... It was a real killer".[44]

Several new scenes were added to increase the sense of urgency and threat to the Ghostbusters, including the underground ghost train sequence and the associated severed-heads scare. A scene showing the Ghostbusters' developed photographs of Vigo bursting into flames, threatening to immolate them, was also added. Reitman wanted these scenes added because he thought his previous cut of the film focused too much on the relationship between Murray's and Weaver's characters.[2] The ghost train was added to add a sense of an unseen force trying to keep the Ghostbusters away.[46] The scene was filmed at the Tunnel night club in New York.[38] Medjuck noted that the added scenes did not require extensive special effects.[42] Cheech Marin's cameo as a dock supervisor was also added in this period.[11]

The additional content replaced some scenes and subplots that were so far into completion they contained finished special effects.[11] Additional shooting was done in Washington Square Park, which was used for the monster moving under the Washington Square Arch. The popularity of the film was evident at that time when thousands of people arrived after hearing Ghostbusters II was being filmed there. They took part in filming, screaming on cue and running to escape the monster.[47] The film's final battle with Vigo was removed and replaced, changing completely the way that Vigo was to exit the painting to confront the Ghostbusters.[48][11]

One of the cut scenes included a subplot in which the Raymond Stantz character is possessed by Vigo following his inspection of the Vigo painting. Raymond erratically drives the Ectomobile until he is freed of Vigo's control by Winston. This explained Raymond's possession in the finale. Some of this footage was repurposed into a montage.[5][49] There were also scenes of Louis Tully attempting to capture Slimer, which test audiences found intrusive, and Slimer was reduced to two appearances.[49] Gross said they retained some Slimer scenes for children but that audiences generally had no reaction to the character, which was not what they had expected.[50] Because the sequence in which Tully's cousin frees the Ghostbusters from the psychiatric hospital was removed, a scene showing a paranormal eclipse from the Mayor's office was added to explain the Mayor securing their release. Other removed scenes showed Raymond and Egon experimenting with the slime, which explained how they learned to manipulate it to control the Statue of Liberty. A ghost was also removed from the sequence in which the slime causes ghosts to rise across New York because Reitman felt it was not creepy enough.[11] Editor Sheldon Kahn was responsible for the idea of the "Five Years Later" opening credit at the start of the film.[51]

Music

Ray Parker, Jr. helped write an updated version of his hit song "Ghostbusters", which was co-written and performed by hip hop group Run-DMC.[5][52] Aiming to replicate the huge success of Parker, Jr.'s original version, the film's soundtrack executive producer Peter Afterman wanted to hire Bobby Brown who had had a recent succession of top-five hit songs and was at the peak of his popularity.[53][3] Afterman offered the MCA Records music label, to which Brown was signed, the potentially lucrative rights to the soundtrack in exchange for Brown's participation. Brown agreed on the condition he would receive a cameo in the film. Filming had nearly concluded at that time, but Reitman wrote Brown a cameo as the mayor's doorman.[3] The resulting song, "On Our Own," was written by L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Daryl Simmons. The song's music video features cameos from Iman, Jane Curtin, Doug E. Fresh, Christopher Reeve, Malcolm Forbes, Rick Moranis, Donald Trump, and Marky and Joey Ramone.[53][54]

Brown also worked alone to write and produce "We're Back".[3] Other songs on the soundtrack include "Flip City" by Glenn Frey, "Spirit" by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew, and "Love is a Cannibal" by Elton John.[55] Composer Danny Elfman wrote a song called "Flesh 'n Blood" for the film but was disappointed only four musical bars of it were used. He thought the small usage was an excuse to be able to release it on the soundtrack and said if he had known he would have pulled the song.[56]Randy Edelman was responsible for the film's original score.[57][58]

Design

Dennis Muren served as the visual effects supervisor on Ghostbusters II.

Columbia had previously helped Richard Edlund found special effects company Boss Film Studios for Ghostbusters but Reitman was reported to be unhappy with their work. For the sequel, he employed Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), hiring Edlund's former ILM co-worker Dennis Muren as the visual effects supervisor.[11] Despite the film's intentionally rushed schedule, Muren wanted to work on the film because it would let him design new creatures. Reitman had little interest in the technical side of his film, leaving ILM freedom to do as they wanted.[59] The team were originally hired to provide 110 effects shots but this grew to 180.[49][11]

ILM was also working on special effects for other 1989 releases; Back to the Future Part II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Abyss, but had the most difficulty with Ghostbusters II because designs and concepts were constantly changing and new scenes were being added. ILM eventually refused to accept any further alterations.[11] As the schedule tightened, ILM had nine teams working every day for four weeks to complete the expanded 180 shots,[44] and had to outsource some of the extra work to Visual Concept Engineering, Available Light, Character Shop, and the uncredited Tippett Studio.[11] Apogee Productions handled many of the effects for the reshoots.[11][38]

Slime

Methocel, a vegetable-based gel, was used to create the slime.[9] Food coloring was added; the colors included green to match Slimer and blue. Physical effects supervisor Chuck Gaspar mocked up differently colored batches and Reitman settled on pink.[9][60] The film required approximately 100,000 gallons of slime.[9] Four cement mixers were kept on-site to mix fresh batches daily because it deteriorated quickly.[9][61]Mica dust and mineral oil were added for the river of slime; the dust added depth to the river while the oil created varying shapes on its surface.[9][61]

The river of slime in the Van Horne Pneumatic Transit station was a miniature model with a plexiglass trough 1 ft (0.30 m) wide and 10 ft (3.0 m) long. It operated in a gravity pump and was fed from a large tank 15 ft (4.6 m) above it. After reaching the end of the river, the slime fell into another tank, from which it was fed back to the upper tank. Air injectors and puppeteered baffles were used to create bubbles and manipulate the slime to flow as though something was moving beneath the surface.[62] Small slime tentacles were created using vinyl-covered sticks operated from below. The large tentacle was plastic and was filmed against a blue screen as it fell away from a stand-in's boot. The footage was then played in reverse so the tentacle would appear to be grabbing at Aykroyd.[61] The Van Horne scene combined the miniature river, matte paintings of the station, and a practical set for stairs leading to a tunnel.[60] The scene in which Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson fall into the river was considered one of the most difficult effects to achieve; the actors were filmed falling from the Van Horne set, which was composited with the miniature river. Hudson was filmed against a blue screen so he would appear in the river; his motion in the river had to be animated by hand against the river's natural movements.[38]

Creature effects

The returning Slimer ghost was re-developed to be more child-friendly like his popular The Real Ghostbusters incarnation. His face, which was controlled with wires and cables in Ghostbusters, was now controlled by servo motors and had a pneumatic jaw. Bobby Porter was hired to wear the Slimer costume until the character was removed from the film entirely. A few weeks later, Slimer was reinserted but by this time, Porter was not available and was replaced by Robin Shelby.[59][63] The slime-possessed fur coat was achieved using four coats with parts controlled with servo motors. ILM considered using live animals for the segment but abandoned the idea.[47]

The Scoleri Brother ghosts, Tony and Nunzio, were inspired by a pair of brothers who robbed Ramis' father's store. Creature designer Tim Lawrence was influenced by the musical comedy film The Blues Brothers (1980), which starred Aykroyd and featured two brothers, one of whom was tall and thin (Tony) and the other short and fat (Nunzio). The brothers were given a cartoonish design to counter the film's scary moments. Lawrence aimed to represent the characters' evil rather than their pre-death appearances.[64] Camilla Henneman created most of Nunzio using spandex pouches filled with gelatinous materials to make him appear impossibly fat. The costume was worn by Lawrence. The impossibly thin Tony was designed as a life-size puppet but Muren thought this approach would impact the filming schedule. Tony was reworked as a costume that was worn by actor Jim Fye; it was given elongated appendages to appear unnaturally thin.[64]

The ghosts' faces were articulated with motors and pneumatics created by mechanical animator Al Coulter and his team. Lawrence also developed an animation system to allow the masks to lip-sync dialog. Alongside early concepts of the ghosts walking and creating explosive ruptures with each step, most of these features were abandoned in the final film. Lawrence later said without those features the same effect could have been created with a one-third-scale puppet.[65] The brothers' electric chairs were miniatures composited into footage of the seated, costumed actors.[65] Distortion effects such as the ghosts being squeezed were created using completed effect shots that were rephotographed through mylar material that could be warped to affect the underlying image.[66] For the scene in which Nunzio carries the prosecutor upside-down from the courtroom, a stuntwoman was hung upside down on a rail. Reitman wanted her to pass through the doorway while seeing above it. Gaspar's team created a passage made of foam above a door that resembled the iron grill. The foam was spring-loaded so that when the wire passed through, the set sprang back into place quickly; the effect was hidden behind a composite of Nunzio.[67] Full-scale cutouts of the ghosts were used during filming to aid the actors.[68]Ghostbusters storyboard artist Thom Enriquez storyboarded the scene; he found the process difficult because the limited schedule meant the courtroom was being built as he worked. He was also restricted by the budget, saying he "could use only fourteen chairs. I could also blow up four pillars and one wall of glass".[68]

The Statue of Liberty was a prominent feature in the film's finale. Dan Aykroyd liked the idea of animating something otherwise immobile.[49]

The animated Statue of Liberty was conceived by Aykroyd, who liked the idea of taking a static image and making it move about, comparing it with seeing the Eiffel Tower moving or Victoria Falls flowing in reverse.[49] The statue's role was originally written as a weapon for Vigo but this idea did not progress the narrative.[69] The effect was a combination of a costume worn by Fye, miniatures, and larger-than-life-size elements like the statue's crown-- which was too small to let the Ghostbusters peer out. The crown was mounted on a gimbal, allowing it to be pivoted as though its wearer was walking. Reitman ordered the crown be tilted down further than the actors were expecting to elicit from them a genuine reaction of surprise. The upper body was modeled and filmed at night in a makeshift pool to show it emerging from the ocean.[70][71] Fye also portrayed the ghost of a Central Park jogger.[72]

To portray the possessed Janosz illuminating a hallway with his eyes, MacNicol was filmed walking down a hallway, which was filmed again without lights off Michael Chapman holding a light at the height of MacNicol's head while panning it from side-to-side. Several takes were done to cover MacNicol's gaze. Animators added the beams emanating from Janosz, including particulate matter to enhance the realism.[61] The "ghost nanny" version of Janosz that snatches Oscar from Venkman's apartment went through many variations. During development, it was conceived of as a two-headed dragon--an idea that was dismissed as unoriginal--billboard figures, animated gargoyles, a phantom taxi, and Santa Claus.[38] A possessed item in the apartment was also considered; this idea inspired the possessed bathtub.[38] MacNicol wore drag as the nanny for closeups and a puppet was used for wide shots. The ghost's extending arm was made from stretchable plastic tubing covered in fabric.[73]

Welch built the exterior walls and ledge of Venkman's apartment to scale; it was positioned 10 ft (3.0 m) in the air. The ledge was superimposed over a matte painting of the full building. The infant actor was secured in a rig that helped him to stand up before his abduction.[38] The possessed bathtub started as a bubble-bath monster that would appear to have thousands of eyes in each bubble; it is destroyed when Dana drops her hairdryer into the bath. Reitman preferred the slime to be the monster. A silicone bath that could be easily bent was used; from below, Tom Floutz puppeteered a tentacle made of dielectric gel and reinforced with spandex and china silk, which was covered in slime. A fiberglass maw was inserted in front of a vacuum tube that sucked the material backward when activated, revealing a mouth. An animated tongue was added later.[46]

The RMS Titanic was one of the first shots ILM completed; they wanted a powerful image for the scene and considered using the Hindenburg airship complete with flaming passengers and luggage, a subway train carrying rotting passengers, and a graveyard with exploding headstones. A miniature model of the Titanic with slightly modified aspects; the position of the ship's name was altered to make it clearly identifiable. Extras were filmed wearing period costume, seaweed, and dripping water but many of the minor details were lost in the wide shot.[74] A scale model of the museum was created because Reitman wanted to be able to show the slime oozing from cracks and seams.[74] Several last-minute effect shots were added due to the hectic schedule. The ghost train was intended to be a subway car but there was no time to find a suitable model and an antique train was used. The severed heads were sourced from multiple places; poorer quality heads were placed further away from the camera.[38] The theater ghost took three weeks to build and required four puppeteers. The Washington Square monster was animated in stop motion by Phil Tippett, who accepted the job on the condition that the effect was no longer than 160 frames, was built on an existing model, and could be done in one take. Tippett was seriously injured in a car accident during development but continued to work and finished his effect in time.[47]

Vigo the Carpathian

The canvas painting of Vigo as portrayed by Wilhelm von Homburg as it hung in the ILM offices in 2011. The character went through many designs, and this canvas painting was in actuality a photograph of von Homburg taken on a set that was blown up in size and treated to resemble an oil painting.

The concept for both the painting and physical form of the central villain Vigo went through many changes,[11] including a plan to transform him into a large monstrosity.[75] There was difficulty determining how Vigo would interact outside his painting.[60] Vigo was intended to have heavier creature makeup but after Von Homburg was cast, his distinctive look meant the extra makeup was largely unnecessary.[76]

In early 1989, ILM contacted Glen Eytchison to develop a painting that could come to life. Eytchison specialized in Tableau vivants--the use of static sets and stationary actors to create the illusion of a flat painting. Muren said while they could have figured out the concept, they did not have enough time and needed an expert. The aim was to portray what appeared to be a painting of Vigo that would come to life to shock the audience. ILM spent months producing concepts of the painting's look but Reitman rejected them for being too similar to "Conan [the Barbarian]".[48][60][77] Eytchison and his team researched the look of a 16th-century warlord and references the period's painters to match the contemporaneous art styles.[48]

Eytchison's team painted a background and individual items including skies, skulls, and trees on acetate. This allowed Reitman to view combinations quickly; he chose his favored design in 15 minutes. Local painter Lou Police produced a painting from this concept; Reitman approved it but Eytchison realized a painting would not be realistic enough to allow them to switch between it and the actor.[48] Eytchison's team decided to create a small set resembling the painting; it had structural elements, including styrofoam skulls, in which Von Homburg could stand. Von Homburg's costume and the set were painted by the same team to ensure they had the same texture and blended together.[48]

Once the set arrived at ILM, Von Homburg was positioned in it wearing full costume, makeup, and prosthetics. Lighting was used to eliminate shadows, creating a flat image. A photograph was then taken and enlarged to be used as the painting. Welch's department treated the photograph to make it closely resemble an oil painting.[48][78] Scenes of Von Homburg on the set delivering his dialog and stepping out of the set as if leaving the painting were filmed; according to Eytchison, the actor struggled with the action and Reitman did not like the effect. The ending was changed completely, eliminating the living picture concept.[48] When Vigo interacts from the painting in the finished film, the image is replaced by Von Homburg's disembodied head floating over a miniature river-of-slime set built from foam by ILM.[60] When leaving the painting, Vigo disappears and materializes into the scene.[48] Another concept had him "peel" from the canvas,[11] and another had the slime bring other paintings to life to aid him.[75] A molded mask was created to represent his inner evil; it was worn by Harold Weed as the possessed version of Aykroyd's character.[75]

Technology

Ghostbusters hardware consultant Stephen Dane was responsible for much of the Ghostbusters' equipment and their vehicle, the Ectomobile; he designed new equipment for Ghostbusters II in an uncredited role. Dane revised the designs of the proton pack weapons, the ghost trap; and also revised the Ectomobile, which became the Ectomobile 1A. Dane designed new equipment including the giga-meter, the slime scooper, and the slime blower--a large tank connected to a slime-spewing nozzle. He re-purposed leftover prop warning labels and symbols from his work on Blade Runner (1982) to make the equipment look more authentic.[79]

The slime blower weapons were three times heavier than the proton packs; the tanks did not contain slime, which was pumped through the guns from off-camera.[70] The bulky proton packs, which were considered heavy and uncomfortable during the filming of Ghostbusters, were redesigned to weigh 28 lb (13 kg) in comparison with the 30 lb (14 kg) and 50 lb (23 kg) versions used on the previous film. The new design offered more comfort while removing some of the powered effects.[77] Muren's team redesigned the proton pack neutrino wand beams to be multi-functional, allowing them to be used as lassos or fishing lines to capture ghosts instead of being straight beams.[59] Five remotely controlled baby strollers were used to create the "possessed" stroller in the film's opening; motors and drive shafts were concealed with the stroller's chrome body, and brakes that could stop it immediately or slow it gradually were used.[23] Gaspar employed two-time national miniature-car champion Jay Halsey to drive the stroller; he had to weave it between traffic from up to 75 ft (23 m) away.[23]

Release

In the late 1980s, film sequels were still quite rare but the concept of the media franchise had quickly developed following the success of the original Star Wars trilogy. In 1989, more sequels were released than in any previous year, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Karate Kid Part III, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Lethal Weapon 2. Also released that year were original hits that would become popular classics like Uncle Buck, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, When Harry Met Sally..., and Dead Poets Society.[80][81][82] That year's most anticipated film was Batman, which was scheduled for release a week after Ghostbusters II, and whose logo had become ubiquitous through a significant marketing campaign aided by its mega-congomlerate owner Time-Warner.[81][83][84] Shortly before its release, a "major theater chain" executive said they expected Ghostbusters II to make approximately $150 million during its run, behind Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ($225 million) and Batman ($175 million), and ahead of Lethal Weapon 2 ($100 million).[85]

Ghostbusters II was originally scheduled for release in July 1989 but less than three months before release, it was postponed to June to avoid direct competition with Batman.[49] The premiere of Ghostbusters II took place on June 15, 1989, at Grauman's Chinese Theater, with an after-party that required payment to attend at the Hollywood Palladium; the entrance fees collected were donated to Saint John's Health Center.[86] Approximately 2.8 million units of a promotional noisemaker toy called the "Ghostblaster", which was released across 3,100 outlets of the fast-food restaurant Hardee's, were recalled in June 1989 because of reports children were ingesting its small batteries.[87][88]

Box office

Ghostbusters II received a wide release on June 16, 1989, in 2,410 theaters, compared with the original film's opening on 1,339.[89][90] Compared to Ghostbusters $13 million opening weekend, Ghostbusters II film earned $29.5 million--an average of $12,229 per theater--as the number one film of the weekend, ahead of the action-adventure film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ($11.7 million) which was in its fourth week of release and drama film Dead Poets Society ($9.1 million), which was in its third.[89][91] Based on its gross and an average increase in ticket price of 22% since Ghostbusters release, an estimated 2 million more people went to see the film. It broke the all-time record for a one-day opening with approximately $10 million on its opening Friday; it was also the biggest non-holiday opening weekend with $29.5 million, narrowly beating Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades opening three-day gross of $29.4 million.[90]

Ghostbusters II revenue was exceeded the following weekend by Batmans $15.6 million opening day takings, and $43.6 million opening weekend earnings earned from 2,194 theaters.[92][93][94]Ghostbusters II earned an additional $13.8 million--a 53% drop from the previous weekend--bringing its 10-day total to $58.8 million, putting it in third place behind Batman and another new release, the Moranis-starring comedy film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ($14.3 million), which was bolstered by a heavily marketed seven-minute Roger Rabbit short film playing before it.[93][95] This weekend gross saw Ghostbusters II contribute to the highest-grossing weekend ever at the time, with total box office takings of $92 million across all theaters.[93]

Compared to the original Ghostbusters seven-week run at number one, Ghostbusters II never regained the top slot,[96][97] falling to number four in its third week behind the debuting drama The Karate Kid Part III,[98] and to number 5 in its fourth week behind the action film Lethal Weapon 2 and black comedy Weekend at Bernie's, both of which were new releases.[99]Ghostbuster II left the top-ten-grossing films by its seventh week and was removed from cinemas entirely by late-September after fifteen weeks.[97] In total, Ghostbusters II earned $112.5 million in North America, less than half that of the original's revenue,[89][100] making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year, behind Back to the Future Part II ($118.4 million), Lethal Weapon 2 ($147.3 million), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ($130.7 million), Look Who's Talking ($140.1 million), and the highest domestic grossing film of that year, Batman ($251.2 million).[101]

Outside of North America, Ghostbusters II is estimated to have earned approximately $102.9 million, nearly doubling the original's overseas takings and raising its worldwide total to $215.4 million. This figure makes it the eighth-highest-grossing film worldwide of 1989, falling approximately $67 million short of Ghostbusters original theatrical revenue.[102][103]

Critical response

Peter MacNicol in 2001. Reviewers were consistent in praise for his comedic performance.

Ghostbusters II received generally negative reviews on release.[2][104][105]Dave Kehr said where Ghostbusters had succeeded by projecting childlike fantasies onto adult characters who snubbed authority and bonded in a clubhouse, Ghostbusters II was more mature and felt tired as a result. Kehr also said Murray's performance has "bright" moments but he seems less energetic than in his previous film Scrooged. He noted that MacNicol and Moranis are the highlights of the film, the latter being part of a "rewarding" romance subplot.[106]Vincent Canby said the film is funnier and not as "oppressively extravagant" as Ghostbusters; he considered the plot to lack depth but that the overall tone of the film is "remarkably cheerful". Canby said MacNicol provides the film's funniest performance.[107]

Jonathan Rosenbaum said the sequel offers an interesting premise but that it seems to lack the energy as its predecessor. He also noted that Murray's normally comedic indifference seems to be lacking commitment.[108]Gene Siskel said the film is a poor copy of the original, that the film is too laid back, spending much of its time on the Murray/Weaver romance and the rest of the runtime, offering nothing new, as though they "were filming the first draft of a script".[109][104]Roger Ebert called it a disappointment, saying he reviewed the film in a public screening and heard no laughter during the entire film.[104]

Desson Thomson said Ghostbusters II feels like an extended version of its predecessor but said the sequel film's best moments, provided by Murray, Moranis, and Aykroyd, were too few, leaving him waiting for impressive special effects, of which he felt there were fewer.[110] Writing for Empire, William Thomas said the script is sharp but certainly aimed towards entertaining younger audience members. Thomas said MacNicol would be impersonated by children everywhere. Murray's story arc was criticized, however; the previous film allowed him to be aloof, selfish, and immature while Ghostbusters II pushed him towards being in a mature relationship and having genuine human warmth, which he felt did not work. Thomas also criticized the emphasis on the romantic subplot because it largely removes Murray from the action scenes, and said the ending is a repeat of the original's.[111]

Time Out echoed sentiments that the film largely retraces the events of its predecessor, and the addition of an infant to add novelty comes across as a convenience.[112] Writing for the Daily News, Kathleen Carroll said apart from witty moments like the ghostly, resurrected Titanic, the film's creatures lack any real menace. She said the film lacks pacing, leaving some scenes feeling overlong. She wrote that Murray's well-received performance from the previous film had been replaced by a "smug swagger and constant smirking" that she found irritating. Carroll highlighted Moranis and MacNicol for providing the film's best comedic scenes, in particular noting MacNicol's "deliriously over-the-top performance".[113]

Writing for USA Today, Mike Clark said that by humanizing the Ghostbusters, the film makes the mistake of taking a surreal comic fantasy and turning it into "Four Ghostbusters and a Baby", a reference to the 1987 comedy film Three Men and a Baby. Clark said Weaver is wasted in a stereotypical working mother role but appreciated the romance between Moranis and Potts. He summarized that Ghostbusters II ultimately lacks any surprise.[114] Writing for The Globe and Mail, Rick Groen said the film is self-important and mediocre, singling out Reitman's directing as lacking in visual imagination and criticizing the entire cast for lackluster performances. His lone exclusions were Murray--whom he said essentially carries the film--and the "wickedly funny" MacNicol, whose performance Groen found to be the film's only surprising feature.[115]Richard Schickel was critical of the glut of sequels in 1989, and noted that Ghostbusters II repeats a lot of story points from Ghostbusters with slight variations, without further developing the characters, and has a "shamelessly" similar ending.[116]

Sheila Benson praised the film and said its denouement is superior to that of the original and singled out MacNicol's performance. She appreciated that despite being a sequel, it does not rely on inside jokes that may alienate audiences and that the interplay between the actors feels inclusive. She also noted the "buoyant" musical score and impressive special effects. Benson criticized Murray's and Weaver's romantic subplot, saying they felt unconnected and more like rivals than lovers.[117]Variety said the film's slime and visuals would appeal to children while adults could appreciate the witty dialog. The reviewer noted that Murray is central to the film because of his ad-libbed dialog.[118]Hal Hinson said the comedy element is generally successful and that while "big and dumb and clunky" like the first film, Ghostbusters II offers more personality. Hinson noted that he considered sequels to be generally lazy and reliant on the success of the previous film, Ghostbusters II looks better and is confident enough to experiment with the source material. He criticized the film's lacked tension and plot development but praised Murray for his comedic performance that tempers the film from becoming over-sentimental about battling negativity with positivity.[119]CinemaScore polls reported that moviegoers gave an average rating of "A-" on a scale of A+ to F.[120]

Post-release

Performance analysis and aftermath

Director Ivan Reitman in 2011. He blamed the film's perceived failure on audiences' desire for darker films.

Financially, Ghostbusters II was a relative success but it failed to meet studio expectations as a sequel to the highest-grossing comedy of all time, and despite being predicted to outperform its rival films before its release it failed to do so.[121][122] As a part of the most successful summer for film to that date, Ghostbusters II was seen as a critical and commercial failure; it also failed to garner the same passionate response from critics and fans as its predecessor.[8][123] While Columbia did not comment, industry experts believed the film was undone, at least partly, by the combination of Batman attracting teenage audiences and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids taking family audiences.[122] Another issue was the quantity of films being released close together and unexpected successes that meant films were staying in theaters longer than anticipated. By only mid-July, some theaters were alternating Ghostbusters II and The Karate Kid III on the same screen because of their diminishing returns to play Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 on other screens.[124]

Reitman blamed changes in what audiences wanted from films. He said he felt contemporaneous society was more negative and cynical, and noted the popularity of Batman, which had a darker tone whereas Ghostbusters II is more positive, particularly its upbeat, optimistic ending that shows New Yorkers coming together to help defeat Vigo.[4][2][100] Reitman also felt the novelty of Ghostbusters could not be repeated because big surprises like ghosts and epic finales were now expected.[8] In 2014, he said, "It didn't all come together ... we just sort of got off on the wrong foot story-wise on that film".[123] Reviewers often noted that the film largely resembles its predecessor down to the story structure, a giant figure stomping through New York, and a mid-film montage set to a theme song.[100] Some noted that releasing a film set at Christmas in June may also have worked against it.[5] It has also been suggested the five-year gap between films worked against it, both losing the momentum generated by the original and setting expectations too high. This period also allowed a potential cultural saturation of the brand through the cartoon series and merchandise.[33][100]

Reitman was disappointed with Ghostbusters II performance and said making the film had not been as much fun an experience as working on Ghostbusters. He told Columbia he would not be part of a third film, and intended to break from comedies altogether.[8] In a 2009 interview, Murray said, "We did a sequel and it was sort of rather unsatisfying for me, because the first one to me was ... the real thing ... They'd written a whole different movie than the one [initially discussed]. And the special-effects guys got it ... There were a few great scenes in it, but it wasn't the same movie."[125] Moranis said, "To have something as offbeat, unusual, and unpredictable [as] the first Ghostbusters, it's next to impossible to create something better. [And] with sequels ... they want better."[123] Much as with the first film, Hudson was disappointed his role was relatively small. In Ghostbusters, many of his major scenes had been given to Murray who was better-known, and Hudson felt the sequel continued to marginalize his character. He affirmed that despite this, he appreciated the role because of the positive way in which fans have reacted to it.[126][127]

Brown's song "On Our Own" was a number-one song on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs music chart for one week in early August 1989 before being replaced by Batmans own hit song "Batdance" by Prince.[128] "On Our Own" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, again behind Batdance, and later behind "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. "On Our Own" spent 20 weeks on the chart.[129][130][131] The Run-DMC version of "Ghostbusters" failed to develop the same level of enduring fandom as Parker, Jr.'s original.[5]

Home media

Ghostbusters II was released on VHS on November 22, 1989, only shortly after the end of its theatrical run. Since the early 1980s, home media was normally released at least six months after films launched in theaters, and in the case of blockbusters like Ghostbusters II and Batman, anywhere from nine to twelve months later. To take advantage of the Christmas season, Ghostbusters II, Batman, and When Harry Met Sally... were all released before the end of the year. The Ghostbusters II VHS was priced at $90 and aimed towards rentals rather than individual purchases.[132][133][134] The film entered the rental chart at number 10 and by late December it peaked as the second top VHS rental behind Batman.[135][136] The release was controversial for the use of letterboxing -- the process of transferring a film shot in a widescreen aspect ratio to standard-width video formats while preserving the film's original aspect ratio -- which cropped much of the video shown on screen.[137] A DVD version was released in 1999.[138]

Blu-ray disc editions were released to celebrate the film's 25th and 30th anniversaries in 2014 and 2019 respectively; the film was remastered and the releases feature 4K resolution video, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and an interview with Aykroyd and Reitman. The 30th-anniversary version was packaged in a limited-edition steel book cover, and also included Ghostbusters and commentary by Reitman, Aykroyd, and producer Joe Medjuck.[139][140]

The original soundtrack of Ghostbusters II was first released on compact disc in 1989.[141] In 2014, the Run-D.M.C. version of "Ghostbusters" was released on a special-edition, white vinyl record that was presented in a marshmallow-scented jacket. The record also contains the Parker, Jr. version of the song and was released to celebrate the 30th and 25th anniversaries of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II respectively.[52] The same year, the soundtrack was first released in digital format.[141]

Legacy

Lasting reception

Since its release, Ghostbusters II has been labeled as the film that "killed" the franchise because it made less money from a larger budget than Ghostbusters and because the filming experience and resulting reception dissuaded Murray from involvement in a third film.[142][143] While some modern critics continue to criticize it as a bad film or inferior to its predecessor, it may only seem that way in comparison with Ghostbusters and is otherwise above average.[143][104][33] In a 2014 interview, Reitman defended the film, saying while it was unfairly compared with Batman at the time, he felt Ghostbusters II still holds up well against the superhero film.[100]

Digital Spy defended the film as being as good as or better than Ghostbusters. It said the plot of Ghostbusters II is arguably better executed than that of the first film, with multiple threads coming together in a "seamless" third act with a positive ending that works better with modern audiences. [100]Den of Geek compared it to sequels to other genre-specific classics like Back to the Future Part II and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), which were considered not as good as the original but as good films in their own right, while Ghostbusters II is perceived as being a bad film despite a close similarity to the original.[33]Deadspin said that like those aforementioned films, Ghostbusters IIs darker setpieces and comedy made it more suited for adults than children, but that it is better than most people remember.[143]Uproxx called it the ideal film to watch during the New Year period because it offers an unsubtle, but simple morality tale about treating others well.[144]

Contemporary review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes offers a 53% approval rating from 38 critics--an average rating of 5.32/10. The site's consensus reads, "Thanks to the cast, Ghostbusters 2 is reasonably amusing, but it lacks the charm, wit, and energy of its predecessor".[145] The film has a score of 56 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 critical reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[146] In 2009, Den of Geek listed it as one of the 25 best blockbuster sequels of all time.[147]

Merchandise

Film merchandising was a relatively new concept created mainly by the success of the Star Wars series. Merchandising for Ghostbusters was unsuccessful; toys in particular sold poorly until the release of the cartoon spin-off The Real Ghostbusters. Sequels were seen as a brighter prospect because they are based on established characters. Over 24 tie-in toys were released alongside the film including water guns, colored slimes,[148]coloring books, comics, and children's meals.[5]Ghostbusters action figures were the fifth-most in-demand toy for the 1989 Christmas season according to a survey of 15,000 retailers.[149]Now Comics released a three-part comic book miniseries adaptation of the film set in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon universe. The story included subplots from the film including Ray's possession while driving the Ectomobile and Tully trying to capture Slimer.[150][151][152]

Several video games were released around the release of the film; Ghostbusters II in 1989 for personal computers, Ghostbusters II (published by Activision) in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and New Ghostbusters II (as Ghostbusters II), also in 1990 for the Nintendo Game Boy. New Ghostbusters II was also released for the NES in Europe and Japan but could not be released in America because Activision held the rights to the game there.[153][154]

Since its release, Ghostbusters II merchandise has included Playmobil sets with action figures and a model of the Ectomobile 1A.[155] A board game, Ghostbusters: The Board Game II, was released in 2017 by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Based on the film, it casts the players as the Ghostbusters and tasks them with defeating Vigo and his ghostly minions. The game's creation was crowdfunded, raising over $760,000.[156][157][158] The 2019 Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida held a 'Ghostbusters-themed haunted maze that featured locations, characters, and ghosts from Ghostbusters, and the Scoleri Brothers.[159]

Sequels and spin-offs

Jason Reitman, director of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a sequel to Ghostbusters II

Discussion about a sequel took place during filming of Ghostbusters II but Ramis was dismissive because of both the actors' ages and the difficulty in getting all of the cast together.[6] Despite Ghostbusters II relative failure, the name recognition and popularity of the actors and their characters meant a third film was still pursued.[160] The concept failed to progress for many years because Murray was reluctant to participate.[125]The Real Ghostbusters series continued to air until 1991 after seven seasons; according to Medjuck, the cartoon series technically took place after the events of Ghostbusters II.[25][5]The Real Ghostbusters was followed in 1997 by a sequel series called Extreme Ghostbusters, which aimed to reinvigorate the franchise but lasted for only one season.[5] In the years that followed the release of Ghostbusters II, Aykroyd continued his attempts to develop a film sequel throughout the 1990s to the early 2010s. By 1999, he had completed a 122-page concept for a sequel called Ghostbusters III: Hellbent, which would add several new characters and take them to ManHellton--a demonic version of Manhattan--where they would encounter the demon Lucifer.[160]

In 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game featuring story consulting by Ramis and Aykroyd, and the likenesses and voice acting of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Potts, and Atherton, was released. Set two years after Ghostbusters II, the story follows the Ghostbusters training a new recruit (the player) to combat a ghostly threat related to Gozer. The game was well-received, earning award nominations for its storytelling. Aykroyd said the game is "essentially the third movie".[161][160] The game establishes that following the events of Ghostbusters II the portrait of Vigo became a decoration at the Ghostbusters' firehouse.[162]Ghostbusters: The Return (2004) was the first in a planned series of sequel novels before the publisher went out of business. Several Ghostbusters comic books have also continued the original characters' adventures across the globe and in other dimensions.[163][164]

Following Ramis's death in 2014, Reitman chose to no longer serve as director for a potential third film.[165][166] He decided the creative control shared by himself, Ramis, Aykroyd, and Murray was holding the franchise back and negotiated a deal with the studio to sell the rights. Reitman spent two weeks persuading Murray. Reitman refused to release details about the deal but said, "the creators would be enriched for the rest of our lives, and for the rest of our children's lives". He and Aykroyd set up a production company called Ghost Corps to continue and expand the franchise, starting with the 2016 female-led reboot, Ghostbusters, which was directed by Paul Feig[12] and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones ,and Kate McKinnon as the Ghostbusters.[165][167] Before its release, the film was beset by controversies and on release it attracted mixed reviews and was later considered a box office bomb.[168][169][170][171] A second, direct sequel to the original two films, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was announced in January 2019, with Reitman's son Jason serving as director. This sequel was written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan, and is scheduled for a July-2020 release.[172] Several members of the original cast are set to appear in the film alongside new cast members Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, and Paul Rudd.[173]

References

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