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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 first film, the Ghostbusters have been sued out of business after the destruction caused during their battle with the demi-god Gozer. When a powerful, new paranormal threat emerges, the Ghostbusters reform to combat it and save the world.

Ghostbusters II
Ghostbusters ii poster.jpg
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

After the phenomenal success of Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures wanted a sequel but struggled to overcome objections from the cast and crew, particularly Murray who believed that sequels were done for greed rather than creative purpose. As with Ghostbusters, 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, settling on the idea of supernatural slime amassing beneath large cities as a result which in turn empowered malevolent spirits. On an approximate $30–40 million budget, filming took place between November 1988 to March 1989, on location in New York City and Los Angeles. Production was even more rushed than the original's 13-month cycle, and after poor audience test screenings, large parts of the film were scrapped, and new scenes 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 mixed reviews. Critics responded negatively to what they perceived as largely a copy of the original and a softening of its cynical, darker 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 ever at the time, Ghostbusters II was expected to dominate the box office, but the film earned $215.4 million during its theatrical run, compared to the original's $282.2, 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 film. Its soundtrack single, "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown, was a hit.

Repeated attempts to develop a further sequel initially ended following Ramis' death in 2014. A 2016 reboot, also called Ghostbusters, was released to mixed reviews and financial failure. Ghostbusters 2020 a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II, is scheduled for release in 2020. Ghostbusters II failed to replicate the cultural impact and following of Ghostbusters, and though some contemporary audiences have found appreciation for the film, it is still conventionally 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.

PlotEdit

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 since had an infant son named Oscar with her now ex-husband and works at an art museum cleaning paintings. She turns to the Ghostbusters for help after Oscar's stroller seemingly rolls by itself into a busy intersection during her walk with him. 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 that he may 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 investigating the supernatural. In the courtroom, the slime sample reacts to the judge's angry outburst, releasing the ghosts of two brothers he condemned for murder. 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 the two renkindle their relationship. Later, the Ghostbusters discover that the slime reacts to emotions, and suspect that 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, but they are pulled in. They begin fighting until Egon realizes that they are being influenced by the slime; once they strip down to their underwear, they return to normal and determine that the river of slime flows to the museum.

The Ghostbusters tell the mayor of their suspicions but are dismissed. The mayor's assistant Jack Hardemeyer has them committed to a psychiatric hospital to protect the mayor's political interests. Meanwhile, a spirit in the form of Janosz kidnaps Oscar from Peter's apartment, and Dana pursues them to the museum. After she enters, the museum is covered with an impenetrable barrier of slime. On New Year's Eve, the slime rises to the streets, causing widespread paranormal chaos.

Learning of Hardemeyer's actions, the mayor fires him and has the Ghostbusters released. Determining that they need a symbol of positivity 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 before the cheering populace. 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 leaves the painting and takes on physical form. He immobilizes Dana and the Ghostbusters and recaptures Oscar, but a chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" by the mass of citizens outside neutralizes the slime, weakening him which forces him to return to the painting and freeing the Ghostbusters. Vigo possesses Raymond, but using their weapons, the Ghostbusters both free Raymond 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.

CastEdit

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 the girl with a puppy that is part of Egon's experiments.[1] Reitman himself cameos as a pedestrian.[2] Judy Ovitz, wife of talent agent Michael Ovitz who represented many of the principal cast, appears as the woman slimed in a restaurant.[1]

Mary Ellen Trainor appears as the host of the opening 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 the woman wearing the possessed fur coat.[1]

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

 
Then-Columbia Pictures executive David Puttnam was blamed for Ghostbusters II's 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, although that film had been developed as a conclusive, 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 by criticizing him for allegedly taking from Hollywood without giving back, and talent agent Michael Ovitz, who represented Murray, Aykyroyd, Ramis and Reitman.[8][9] Puttnam favored smaller films over big-budget blockbusters, greenlighting several foreign-language films by European directors, stating that he was making films for the "world market", and smaller budget films like the critically acclaimed war film Hope and Glory (1987) and the comedy film Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989), and he was not interested in developing an expensive sequel to Ghostbusters, despite its success.[7] Others suggested that 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.[10]

Reitman later said that the delay in development was not Puttnam's fault, saying that executives above Puttnam at Columbia's New York branch had attempted to work around him to progress the project, but they too were unable to get the production moving. Reitman said that it was simply that the main actors did not want to do a sequel for nearly 3 years, and by the time they decided to go ahead, Murray was then committed to his starring role in the Christmas comedy film Scrooged (1988), and when Murray was ready, the script was not.[8] Part of the difficulty lay in that Reitman, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis, as co-creators, all held control over the franchise, requiring unanimous approval to progress; the studio had no say in it.[4][11]

In April 1987, Puttnam announced that Ghostbusters II would go into production in November that year, without having informed Reitman, who had not yet even reviewed the script which was not finished.[12][13][12] Puttnam left Columbia in September 1987 and was replaced as Columbia president by Dawn Steel, the first woman to hold such a high-level role in the industry.[14][7] When she took the job, it was made clear by her corporate bosses that getting the sequel into production was a priority.[9] Columbia had experienced a long series of box office failures since Ghostbusters (their most profitable film in 1988, greenlit during the Puttnam regime, had earned only $14 million),[9][15] and Ghostbusters II was seen as the best possible 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 to overcome was the disputes that had arisen between the principal cast and crew since Ghostbusters. While the specifics are not known, Ramis later said that "there was a little air to clear" before they could work together.[9] In March 1988,[10] 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. Different concerns were raised, such as if the principals could still carry the sequel because Murray having been away from films for so long and Aykroyd had experienced a series of film failures in the interim. The event lasted approximately four hours, during which the group had enough fun together that they decided they could work together.[9] After this, the film was rushed into production for a summer 1989 release,[10] aiming to start filming in Summer 1988.[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][10] The deal was reported as to 10% of the box office profits each. Reitman refuted the figure being that large, but affirmed "it's a big one".[8][10] This was done to keep the budget low, aiming for approximately $30 million, where upfront salaries would have raised it closer to $50 million.[9] Despite the 5 years it took to produce a sequel and its necessity for special effects, Ghostbusters II had an even shorter schedule than its predecessors one-year turnaround.[8][18]

WritingEdit

 
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.[19][20]

Aykroyd described his first draft as "really too far out... too inaccessible". He wanted to leave New York City behind and set the film overseas. It 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 tied to fairies or witches in folklore[21]—and an underground civilization.[19][20] Aykroyd decided that after the previous film moved skywards, ending atop a skyscraper, he wanted to counter that by making a subterranean threat. 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 both continuity, and better fit the story he wanted to tell, while still allowing them to explore beneath the city.[20]

As with Ghostbusters, Ramis partnered with Aykroyd to refine the script. One of their early decisions was that Ghostbusters II should the reflect the actual five-year passage of time between the two films.[20] Ramis had conceived separately from the film a horror film concept about an infant who possessed adult agility and focus. He opted to drop the horror aspects but it did inspire him to create the character of Oscar.[19] 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 it created an imbalance on the story, placing too much of the focus 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 a different man, have a child and be divorced by the events of Ghostbusters II.[23] One point Ramis wanted to show was that the Ghostbusters had not been successful following their victory in the previous film. He considered this to be a more original concept.[24]

The river of slime was conceived early on in their collaboration.[19] Ramis wanted the slime beneath New York to present a moral issue caused by the build-up of negative human emotions in larger cities like New York and Los Angeles,[19][24] He considered it a metaphor for urban decay and a call to deliver a human solution towards it, 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 that 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 the negativity has to go somewhere, potentially into the person the emotion is directed towards. He felt this made the film more grounded compared to dealing with gods.[25] He explained "cities everywhere are dangerous. Life has become cheap. You can go to...see a movie and get machine-gunned on the street."[19] The story evolved far even 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 on for over a year,[12] and he had completed a screenplay by March 1988.[17]

In the years since the release of the more adult-oriented Ghostbusters, it's 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 the cartoon audience.[10] According to producer Joe Medjuck, the cartoon's success was influential in Slimer returning for the sequel, and they aimed to not contradict the show where possible, although he said that since in the film the Ghostbusters have been out of work for 5 years, they had to act like the cartoon took place after the film.[26]

Cast and crewEdit

 
Max von Sydow provided the voice of Vigo the Carpathian.

Despite the length of time taken to get the original cast on board, in a 1987 interview Puttnam said that re-casting was not an option. This was in response to reports that he was considering making a sequel with a new, lower-salaried crew, and his documented disdain for Murray.[9][12]

Ghostbusters II was to be the first sequel film Reitman had directed, and he said 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's main draw.[6] Ramis admitted to his own apprehension about returning, due to what he considered to be 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, compounded by the failure of his personal project The Razor's Edge (1984), he felt "radioactive" and chose to avoid making movies until he returned for Scrooged.[27][9] Murray was also dismissive of sequels in general, believing them to exist only for the purposes of "greed" or "business" reasons, the latter of which he said should carry a death sentence. Explaining the reason for which he eventually agreed to return for the sequel, he said: "working on the first Ghostbusters was the most fun any of us had."[6]

The accent for Peter MacNicol's Janosz Poha was inspired by Meryl Streep in the drama film Sophie's Choice (1982). Poha was not described in the script as having an accent, but MacNicol impressed Reitman with it at an audition.[2] The character was originally called Jason. He served as a straight man to the Ghostbusters.[28] MacNicol said the role as written could be played by anyone, so he opted to give Poha a backstory that involved him being Carpathian. He developed the accent based on observations at a Romanian tourist agency, and his Czech friend.[29][30] MacNicol also wanted to wear a black, Beatles wig, but the idea was rejected as many of the cast had dark hair.[31]

Max von Sydow provided the voice of Vigo. He completed his recordings in a single day.[2] Von Homburg reportedly only learned that his voice had been dubbed over by von Sydow while watching the premiere, and stormed out shortly afterward.[32] He later conceded that his slurred voice, caused by a split lip, had been a hindrance in securing acting work.[33] Eugene Levy was cast as Louis' cousin Sherman, an employee at the psychiatric ward where the Ghostbusters are imprisoned during the film. The character was instrumental in their liberation, but his scenes were cut.[34][10] Michael C. Gross and [Medjuck returned for the sequel, each promoted to producer. Michael Chapman replaced László Kovács as cinematopgraher, and Bo Welch replaced John DeCuir as production designer.[25]

FilmingEdit

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

Principal photography began on November 28, 1988, in New York City.[10][6] Exact figures for the budget are not available, but it was reported to be between $30 million and $40 million.[9][35] Filming in New York lasted approximately two weeks and consisted of mainly exterior shoots.[6][23] Reitman began working on Ghostbusters II almost immediately after concluding directing his comedy film Twins (1988).[6]

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 visiting leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.[23] Other locations included the interior and exterior of the Statue of Liberty,[36] and Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 which again served as the exterior of the Ghostbusters' headquarters. The updated Ghostbusters' business logo was hung outside of the firehouse but eventually fell off. It was gifted to the firehouse staff after filming.[37]

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House served as the exterior of the Manhattan Museum of Art which housed Vigo's painting,[38] and the scene of Aykroyd's, Ramis', and Hudson's characters emerging from a manhole covered in slime was filmed in front. When he wrote the scene, Ramis expected the production to use a manhole in front of the building but the only available underground location was a telephone conduit. The space was limited in the hole, and the actors had to squeeze into it while covered in slime. The freezing temperatures combined with the liquid slime made the actors very uncomfortable. The following day, they learned that the cameras had been recording at the wrong speed and they would have to film the scene again.[39] 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.[40][41] For the scene of the Ghostbusters visiting the mayor at Gracie Mansion, the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, was used.[42] The scene of the Ghostbusters digging a hole on a Manhattan street to find the river of slime was filmed in downtown Los Angeles.[9] Medjuck noted that characters could be seen smoking all the time in Ghostbusters, but a societal change in the acceptance of the habit in the intervening years, meant this was no longer acceptable. Ghostbusters II features no smoking.[26] The scene of the fur coat coming to life and running away was filmed on a Los Angeles street. The scene was written for the original film, but it was ultimately never used and repurposed for Ghostbusters II.[2][39] Filming officially concluded on March 7, 1989.[10]

Post-productionEdit

 
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, it was realised that there were issued with the film that had to be changed.[43][44] Reitman said that when watching one screening he had realised that the final 25 minutes of the film "just died a horrible death", and they spent four days filming a new 25 minutes to replace it.[44] Medjuck said that the test screenings identified that audiences liked the film, but felt that Vigo did not present any real challenge to the Ghostbusters and that their eventual victory was achieved too easily.[43] Test audiences also though that Vigo, the slime, and associated ghosts were not sufficiently connected together.[45] According to Gross, the audiences were not even aware of the concepts of positive and negative slime, and so scenes were added to better explain this.[46]

Extensive re-shoots were conducted throughout March and April 1989, only two months before the film's release. This included additional on-location shooting in New York.[47][10][9] Ghostbusters II had initially been scheduled for release on the July 4th holiday weekend, but Reitman felt that June 23 would work better. When they learned that the superhero film Batman was also coming out that day, they asked to move to the 16th. As Gross recalled, "Joe Medjuck and I were turning pale... it did not look possible... It was a real killer."[45]

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 of the Ghostbusters' developed photos of Vigo bursting into flames, threatening to immolate them, was also added. Reitman wanted these scenes added because he thought that his previous cut of the film had focused too much on the relationship between Murray's and Weaver's characters.[2] The ghost train was added to add a sense that an unseen force was trying to keep the Ghostbusters away.[47] The scene was filmed at the Tunnel night club in New York.[39] Medjuck noted that the added scenes did not require extensive special effects.[43] Cheech Marin's cameo as a dock supervisor was also added in this period.[10]

The additional content replaced some scenes and subplots that were so far into completion that they contained finished special effects.[10] 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 as when people heard Ghostbusters II was filming there, several thousand civilians arrived. They took part in filming, screaming on cue and running to escape the monster.[48] The film's final battle with Vigo was entirely cut and replaced, changing completely the way that Vigo was to exit the painting to confront the Ghostbusters.[49][10]

One of the cut scenes included a subplot of the Raymond Stantz character being possessed by Vigo earlier in the film following his inspection of Vigo's painting. Raymond proceeds to erratically drive the Ectomobile until he is freed of Vigo's control by Winston. This explained Raymond's later possession in the finale. Some of this footage was repurposed into a montage.[5][50] There were also scenes of Louis Tully attempting to capture Slimer, but test audiences found these scenes intrusive, and Slimer was reduced to only two appearances.[50] Gross said that they retained some Slimer scenes for children, but that audiences generally had no reaction to the character, which was not what they had expected.[51] As the sequence where Tully's cousin frees the Ghostbusters from the psychiatric hospital were removed, a scene was added showing a paranormal eclipse from the Mayor's office was added to explain the Mayor securing their release. Other scenes shoed 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 of the slime causing ghosts to rise across New York, as Reitman felt it was not creepy enough.[10] Editor Sheldon Kahn was responsible for the idea to add the "Five Years Later" opening credit at the start of the film.[52]

MusicEdit

Ray Parker, Jr. helped write an updated version of his hit song "Ghostbusters" that was co-written and performed by Hip hop group Run-DMC.[5][53] 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 a recent succession of top-five hit songs and was at the peak of his popularity.[54][3] Afterman offered the MCA Records music label, to whom Brown was then signed, the potentially lucrative rights to the soundtrack in exchange for Brown's participation. Brown agreed on the condition that 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 was called "On Our Own", and was written by L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Daryl Simmons. The song's music video featured cameos from Iman, Jane Curtin, Doug E. Fresh, Christopher Reeve, Malcolm Forbes, Rick Moranis, Donald Trump, and Marky and Joey Ramone.[54][55]

Brown also worked alone to write and produce "We're Back".[3] Other songs on the soundtrack included "Flip City" by Glenn Frey, "Spirit" by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew, and "Love is a Cannibal" by Elton John.[56] Composer Danny Elfman wrote a song for the film called "Flesh 'n Blood" but was disappointed that only four musical bars of it were used. He thought that the small usage was an excuse to be able to release it on the soundtrack, and said that if he had known he would have pulled the song.[57] Randy Edelman was responsible for the film's original score.[58][59]

DesignEdit

 
Dennis Muren served as the visual effects supervisor on Ghostbusters II

While Columbia had helped Richard Edlund found the effects company Boss Film Studios to produce the special effects for Ghostbusters, Reitman was apparently unhappy with their work, and opted to employ the services of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for the sequel, bringing in Edlund's former ILM co-worker Dennis Muren as the visual effects supervisor.[10] Despite the film's intentionally rushed schedule, he wanted to work on the film as it would let him create new creature designs that audiences had not seen before. Reitman had little interest in the technical side of his film, leaving ILM freedom to do as they wanted.[60] The team were originally hired to provide 110 effects shots, but this steadily grew to 180.[50][10]

At the time, 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 as designs and concepts were constantly in flux and new scenes were being added. ILM eventually refused to accept any further alterations.[10] As the schedule tightened, ILM had nine teams working every day for four weeks just to complete the expanded 180 shots,[45] and had to outsource some of the extra work to Visual Concept Engineering, Available Light, Character Shop and an uncredited Tippett Studio.[10] Apogee Productions handled many of the effects for the reshoots.[10][39]

SlimeEdit

Methocel, a vegetable-based gel, was used to create the slime.[9] Food coloring was added to give the slime a hue, and it went through several variations including blue, and green to match Slimer. Physical effects supervisor Chuck Gaspar mocked up different colored batches, and Reitman settled on pink.[9][61] The film required approximately 100,000 gallons of it in total.[9] Four cement mixers were kept on-site to mix fresh batches on a daily basis due to its poor preservation.[9][62] 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][62]

The river of slime in the Van Horne Pneumatic Transit station was a miniature model, featuring a plexiglass trough only 1 foot wide and 10 feet long. It operated in a gravity pump, being fed from a large tank 15 feet above it. After reaching the end of the river, the slime fell into another tank which fed back to the upper tank. Air injectors and puppeteered baffles were used to create bubbles and manipulate the slime flow as if something was moving beneath the surface.[63] The small slime tentacles that reach out of the slime were vinyl covered sticks operated from below. The larger tentacle was plastic and filmed against a blue screen as it fell away from a stand-ins boot. The footage was then played in reverse to appear to be grabbing at Aykroyd.[62] The Van Horne scene combined the miniature river, matte paintings of the station and a practical set for the stairs leading to the tunnel.[61] The scene where Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson fall into the river was considered one of the most difficult effects. Hudson, Aykroyd, and Ramis were filmed falling from the Van Horne set, which was composited with the miniature river. Hudson was filmed against a blue screen to let him appear in the river and then his motion in the river had to be animated by hand against the rivers natural movements.[39]

Creature effectsEdit

The returning Slimer ghost was re-developed to be more child-friendly like his popular The Real Ghostbusters incarnation. His face, controlled with wires and cables in Ghostbusters, was now controlled by servo motors and featured a pneumatic jaw. Bobby Porter was recruited to wear the Slimer costume until the character was cut 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.[60][64] The slime-possessed fur coat that comes to life was achieved using four coats, with servo motor controlled parts. They considered using live animals for the segment but abandoned it.[48]

The Scoleri Brother ghosts, Tony and Nunzio, were inspired by a pair of brothers who robbed Ramis' father's story. Creature designer Tim Lawrence was also 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 scarier moments. Lawrence aimed to represent the evil inside the characters rather than their pre-death appearances.[65] Camilla Henneman created the majority of Nunzio using spandex pouches filled with gelatinous materials to make him appear impossibly fat. The costume was worn by Lawrence. The similarly impossibly thin Tony was designed as a life-size puppet, but Muren thought that this approach would impact the filming schedule. Tony was reworked as a costume worn by actor Jim Fye. It was given elongated appendages to still appear unnaturally thin.[65]

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 lipsync dialog. Alongside early concepts of the ghosts walking, and creating explosive ruptures with each step, these features were mostly abandoned in the final film. Lawrence later said that with those features removed, the same effect could have been created with just a 1/3 scale puppet.[66] The brothers' electric chairs were miniatures composited into footage of the costumed actors sitting.[66] Various 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.[67] When Nunzio carries the prosecutor upside down out of 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 the door that resembled the iron grill. The foam was springloaded so that when the wire passed through the set sprung back into place quickly, and the effect was hidden behind a composite of Nunzio.[68] Full-scale cutouts of the ghosts were used during filming to aid the actors.[69] Ghostbusters storyboard artist Thom Enriquez storyboarded the scene. He found the process difficult as Reitman was unavailable due to his work on Twins, and the limited schedule meant the courtroom was being built as he worked. He was also restricted by the budget, saying that he "could use only fourteen chairs. I could also blow up four pillars and one wall of glass".[69]

 
The Statue of Liberty in New York City was a prominent feature in the film's finale. Aykroyd liked the idea of animating something otherwise immobile.

The animated Statue of Liberty was conceived by Aykroyd. He liked the idea of taking a static image and making it move about, comparing it to seeing the Eiffel Tower moving or Victoria Falls reversing.[50] Initially, it was written as a weapon for Vigo, but this idea did not progress the narrative.[70] The effect was a combination of a costume (worn by Fye), miniatures, and larger-than-life-size elements like the statue's crown, as the actual size was too small to let the Ghostbusters peer out. The crown was mounted on a gimbal, allowing it to be pivoted as if walking. Reitman ordered the crown be tilted down further than the actors were expecting to get a genuine reaction of surprise. The upper body was modeled and filmed in a makeshift pool at night to replicate it emerging from the ocean.[71][72] Fye also portrayed the Central Park jogger ghost.[73]

To portray the possessed Janosz illuminating a hallway with his eyes, MacNicol was filmed walking down a hallway. The same area was then filmed again with the lights off and Michael Chapman holding a light at MacNicol's head height while panning it side to side. Several takes were done to cover wherever MacNicol was looking. Animators drew in the beams emanating from Janosz, including particulate matter to enhance the realism.[62] The "ghost nanny" version of Janosz that snatches Oscar from Venkman's apartment went through many variations. At various stages, it was conceived as a two-headed dragon (which was dismissed as unoriginal), billboard figures and building gargoyles given life, a phantom taxi, and even Santa Claus.[39] MacNicol wore drag for closeups, and a puppet was used for wide shots. The ghost's extending arm was simple stretchable plastic tubing covered in fabric.[74] A possessed item in the apartment was also considered, which inspired the possessed bathtub.[39]

Welch built the exterior walls and ledge of Venkman's apartment to scale and it was positioned 10 feet 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.[39] The possessed bathtub started as a bubble bath monster that would appear to have thousands of eyes in each bubble. It is destroyed after Dana drops her hairdryer into the bath. Reitman preferred for the slime to be the monster. A silicone bath was used that could be easily bent. From below, Tom Floutz puppeteered a tentacle made of dielectric gel reinforced which spandex and china silk which was covered in slime. A fiberglass maw was inserted in front of a vacuum tube that when activated sucked the material backward, revealing a mouth. An animated tongue was later added.[47]

The RMS Titanic was one of the first shots completed by ILM. 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 was created, but with slightly modified aspects such as changing the positioning of the name so it was clearly identifiable. Extras were filmed in period costume, seaweed, and dripping water, but many of the minor details were lost in the wide shot used.[75] A scale model of the museum was created because Reitman wanted to be able to show the slime oozing from every crack and seam.[75] Several effect shots were added last minute due to the hectic schedule. The ghost train was intended to be a subway car but they had no time to find a suitable model and chose an antique train. The severed heads were sourced from wherever the team could find them, with lesser quality heads being placed further away from the camera.[39] The theater ghost took three weeks to build and required four puppeteers. The Washington Square monster was animated in stop motion by Phil Tippett. He accepted on the condition that, because time was so short, the effect be no longer than 160 frames, be built on an existing model, and 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.[48]

Vigo the CarpathianEdit

 
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,[10] including being planned to transform into a large monstrosity.[76] There was also difficulty determining how Vigo would interact outside of his painting.[61] Vigo was intended to feature more heavy creature makeup but after Von Homburg was cast, his distinctive look meant it was largely unnecessary.[77]

ILM contacted Glen Eytchison in early 1989 to develop a painting that could come to life. He specialized in Tableau vivants—the use of static sets and stationary actors to create the illusion of a flat painting. Muren said that 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, only for it to come to life to shock the audience. ILM spent months producing concepts of how the painting should look but Reitman had rejected them for being too like "Conan [the Barbarian]".[61][78][49] Eytchison and his team researched how a 16th-century warlord would look, and references the era's painters to match contemporary art styles.[49]

Eytchison's team painted a background and separate individual items like skies, skulls, and trees on acetate. This allowed Reitman to view different combinations quickly and he picked his favored design in 15 minutes. Local painter Lou Police produced a painting from this concept. Reitman approved it but Eytchison realized that a painting would not be realistic enough to allow them to switch between it and the actor.[49] Eytchison's team decided to create a small set was created resembling the painting, featuring structural elements like styrofoam skulls, in which Von Homburg could physically stand. His costume and the set were painted by the same team to ensure they shared the same texture and blended together.[49]

Once the set arrived at ILM, Von Homburg was positioned in it in full costume with makeup and prosthetics. Lighting was used to eliminate all shadows, creating a flat image. A photo was then taken and blown up in size to be used as the painting. Welch's department treated it to closely resemble an oil painting.[49][79] Scenes were filmed of Von Homburg on the set delivering his dialog and stepping out of the set as if leaving the painting. 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 aspect.[49] In the finished film, when Vigo interacts from the painting, the image is replaced by Von Homburg's disembodied head floating over a miniature river of slime set built from foam by ILM.[61] When leaving the painting, Vigo instead just disappeared and materializes into the scene.[49] Another concept had him "peel" from the canvas,[10] and another had the slime would bring other paintings to life to aid him.[76] A molded mask was created to represent his inner evil. The mask was worn by Harold Weed as the possessed version of Aykroyd's character.[76]

TechnologyEdit

Ghostbusters' hardware consultant Stephen Dane, responsible for much of the Ghostbusters' equipment and their vehicle, the Ectomobile, designed new equipment for Ghostbusters II in an uncredited role. He revised the designs of the proton pack weapons, the ghost trap, and the Ectomobile to turn it into the Ectomobile 1A, and designed new equipment including the giga-meter, 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.[80]

The slime blower weapons were three times heavier than the proton packs. However, the tanks did not contain slime as it was pumped through the guns from off-camera.[71] The bulky proton packs which were considered heavy and uncomfortable during the filming of Ghostbusters were redesigned to weigh only 28 pounds compared to between 30 and 50 pounds on the previous film. The new design offered more comfort while removing some of the powered effects.[78] Muren's team opted to redesign the proton pack neutrino wand beams to be multi-functional, allowing for them to be used as lassos or fishing lines to capture ghosts instead of jst straight beams.[60] Five remote-controlled baby strollers were used to create the "possessed" strolled 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.[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-feet away.[23]

ReleaseEdit

At the time, a film sequel was still rare, but as the idea of media franchises had developed following the success of the original Star Wars trilogy, 1989 saw the release of more sequels than any previous, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Karate Kid Part III, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Lethal Weapon 2, and original hits that would become considered popular classics like Uncle Buck, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, When Harry Met Sally..., and Dead Poets Society.[81][82][83] Most anticipated was Batman, which was scheduled to release only a week after Ghostbusters II, and whose logo had become ubiquitous through a significant marketing campaign and merchandising push aided by its mega-congomlerate owner Time-Warner.[82][84][85] Shortly before its release, an unnamed "major theater chain" executive said that 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).[86]

The film was originally scheduled to release in July 1989, but less than 3 months before release, the date was changed to June to avoid direct competition with Batman.[50] The premiere of Ghostbusters II took place on June 15, 1989, at Grauman's Chinese Theater, with an afterparty at the Hollywood Palladium that required payment to attend, with the money being donated to Saint John's Health Center.[87] Approximately 2.8 million units of a promotional toy, the "Ghostblaster" (a small noisemaker), released across 3,100 outlets of the fast-food restaurant Hardee's, had to be recalled in June 1989, because of reports that children were ingesting its small batteries.[88][89]

Box officeEdit

Ghostbusters II received a wide release on June 16, 1989, in 2,410 theaters (compared to the original opening on 1,339).[90][91] Compared to Ghostbusters' $13 million opening weekend, Ghostbusters II film earned $29.5 million—an average of $12,229 per theater—finishing 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.[90][92] Based on its gross and an average increase in ticket price of 22% since Ghostbusters' release, an estimated 2 million extra 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, and the biggest non-holiday opening weekend with $29.5 million, narrowly beating Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's opening 3-day gross of $29.4 million.[91]

It did not hold either record long, being beaten only the following weekend by Batman's $15.6 million opening day takings, and $43.6 million opening weekend earnings earned from 2,194 theaters.[93][94][95] 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 its fellow 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 played beforehand.[94][96] 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 available theaters.[94]

Compared to the original Ghostbusters' seven-week run at number 1, Ghostbusters II never regained the top slot,[97][98] falling to number 4 in its third week (behind the debuting drama The Karate Kid Part III at number 3),[99] and number 5 in its fourth week (behind the new releases of action film Lethal Weapon 2 and black comedy Weekend at Bernie's).[100] It left the top 10 grossing films by its seventh week, and cinemas entirely by late-September after fifteen weeks.[98] In total, Ghostbusters II earned $112.5 million in North America, less than half that of the originals,[90][101] making it the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year, behind other sequels like Back to the Future Part II ($118.4 million) and Lethal Weapon 2 ($147.3 million), and originals like 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).[102]

Detailed box office figures are not available for territories outside of North America, but it is estimated to have earned approximately $102.9 million, nearly doubling the original's takings in these territories, and raising the worldwide total of Ghostbusters II to $215.4 million. This figure made it the eighth highest-grossing film worldwide of 1989 (the highest-grossing film being Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with $474.2 million), falling approximately $67 million short of Ghostbusters' original theatrical take.[103][104]

Critical responseEdit

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

The film received negative reviews on release.[2][105][106] Dave Kehr said that 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 said that Murray had "bright" moments, but seemed less energetic than in his previous film Scrooged. He noted that MacNicol and Moranis were the highlights of the film, the latter being part of a "rewarding" romance subplot.[107] Vincent Canby said that the film was funnier than Ghostbusters, saying it was not as "oppressively extravagant". He considered the plot to lack depth but that the overall tone of the film was "remarkably cheerful". Canby highlighted MacNicol as providing the film's funniest performance.[108]

Hal Hinson said that the comedy was generally successful and that while "big and dumb and clunky" like the first film, Ghostbusters II offered more personality. Hinson noted that he considered sequels to be generally lazy and reliant on the success of the previous film, Ghostbusters II looked better visually and was confident enough to experiment with the source material. He was critical that the film lacked tension or plot development. Hinson praised Murray for his comedic performance that tempered the film from becoming overly sentimental about battling negativity with positivity.[109] Jonathan Rosenbaum said that the sequel offered an interesting premise but that it seemed to lack the same energy as its predecessor. He also noted that Murray's normally comedic indifference seemed to be lacking commitment.[110]

Gene Siskel said that it was a poor copy of the original. He considered that the film was too laid back, spending much of its time on the Murray/Weaver romance and the rest of the runtime offering nothing new, as if they "were filming the first draft of a script".[111][105] Roger Ebert called it a disappointment, saying that he reviewed the film in a public screening and did not hear any laughter for the entire runtime.[105] Desson Thomson said that Ghostbusters II felt like an extended version of its predecessor, but felt that the film's best moments, provided by Murray, Moranis, and Aykroyd, were too few, leaving him waiting for impressive special effects which he felt there was less of also.[112]

Variety said that the film's slime and visuals would appeal to children while adults could appreciate the witty dialog. The reviewer noted that Murray was central to the film whether intentionally or not because of his ad-libbed dialog.[113] Writing for Empire, William Thomas said that the script was sharp but certainly aimed towards entertaining younger audience members. Thomas said that MacNicol would be impersonated by children everywhere. Murray's story arc was criticized however, as the previous film allowed him to be aloof, selfish, and immature, while Ghostbusters II pushed him towards being a mature relationship and genuine human warmth which they felt did not work. He also criticized the emphasis on this romantic subplot as it largely removed Murray from the action scenes, and said that the ending was a repeat of the original's.[114]

Time Out echoed sentiments that the film largely retraced the events of its predecessor, and the addition of an infant to add novelty came across as more of a convenience.[115] Writing for the Daily News, Kathleen Carroll said that apart from witty moments like the ghostly resurrected Titanic, the film's creatures lacked any real menace. She said that the film lacked pacing, leaving some scenes feeling over long. She lamented 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".[116]

Sheila Benson praised the film and said that it's denouement was superior to that of the original and singled out MacNicol's performance. She appreciated that despite being a sequel, it did not rely on inside jokes that may alienate audiences, and that the interplay between the actors felt inclusive. She also noted the "buoyant" musical score and impressive special effects. Benson criticized Murray's and Weaver's romantic subplot, saying that they felt unconnected and more like rivals.[117] Writing for USA Today, Mike Clark said that by humanizing the Ghostbusters, the film had made the mistake of taking a surreal comic fantasy and turned it into "Four Ghostbusters and a Baby", a reference to the 1987 comedy film Three Men and a Baby. Clark felt that Weaver was wasted in a stereotypical working mother role, but appreciated the romance between Moranis and Potts. He summarised that Ghostbusters II ultimately lacked any surprise.[118]

Writing for The Globe and Mail, Rick Groen said that the film was self-important and mediocre. He singled out Reitman's directing as lacking in visual imagination and criticized the entire cast for lackluster performances. His lone exclusions were Murray, who he said essentially carried the film, and the "wickedly funny" MacNicol, whose performance Groen found to be the film's only surprising feature.[119] Richard Schickel was critical of the glut of sequels in 1989, and noted that Ghostbusters II repeated a lot of story points from Ghostbusters with slight variations, without further developing the characters and a "shamelessly" similar ending.[120] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "A-" on a scale of A+ to F.[121]

Post-releaseEdit

Performance analysis and aftermathEdit

 
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 had 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 ultimately failed to do so.[122][123] As a part of the most successful summer for film ever at the time, Ghostbusters II was seen as a failure, critically and commercially, and it had also failed to garner the same passionate response from critics and fans as its predecessor.[8][124] While Columbia did not comment at the time, industry experts believed that the film was undone, at least in part, by the combination of Batman attracting teenage audiences, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids taking family audiences.[123] Another issue was the sheer quantity of films being released close together and unexpected successes that meant films were staying in theaters longer than expected. 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 give Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 a screen each.[125]

Reitman blamed changes in what audiences wanted from films, saying that he felt contemporary society was more negative and cynical. He noted that the popularity of Batman, which had a much darker tone, was the opposite of Ghostbusters II, particularly it's upbeat, optimistic ending that featured New Yorkers coming together to help defeat Vigo.[4][2][101] Reitman also felt the novelty of Ghostbusters could not be repeated, as 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."[124] Reviewers also pointed out that the film largely resembled its predecessor, down to story structure, a giant figure stomping through New York, and a mid-film montage set to the film's theme song.[101] It has also been suggested that the five-year gap between films worked against it, both losing the momentum generated by the original, and setting expectations too high.[34][101] Some have noted that releasing a film set during the Christmas period in June also may have worked against it, and a general cultural saturation of the brand over the intervening years through the cartoon series and merchandise.[5]

Reitman was very disappointed in its performance, and said that making the film had not been as fun an experience as working on Ghostbusters. He informed Columbia that he would not be part of a third film. At this point in his career, he was the most successful name in comedy films. In December 1989, he said that he wanted to take a break from comedies altogether, and would pursue projects for television after launching a development studio at his own company.[8] However, by June the next year he was directing the comedy-drama film Kindergarten Cop (1990).[126] 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. and the sequel... 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."[127] 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."[124] Much like he was with the first film, Hudson was disappointed that his role was still relatively small. In Ghostbusters, many of his major scenes had been given to Murray who was more well-known, and felt that when they did the sequel, he still remained only a minor character. He affirmed that even so he appreciated the roles because of the positive way in which fans have reacted to the character.[128][129]

Brown's "On Our Own" was a number 1 hit for one week in early August 1989 on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B / Hip hop music charts before being replaced, in a mirror of the film's performance, by Batman's own hit song "Batdance" by Prince.[130] It peaked at number 2 on the top 100 songs overall, again behind Batdance, and later behind "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. It spent 20 weeks in total on the charts.[131][132][133] The Run-DMC version of "Ghostbusters" failed to develop the same level of enduring fandom as Parker, Jr.'s original.[5]

Home mediaEdit

Ghostbusters II was released on VHS on November 22, 1989, only shortly after 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... all released before the end of the year. The Ghostbusters II VHS was priced at $90 and aimed more towards rentals than individual purchases.[134][135][136] The film entered the rental chart at number 10 and peaked as the second top VHS rental by late-December, behind Batman.[137][138]

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

The Ghostbusters II original soundtrack 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 vinyl white record presented in a marshmallow-scented jacket. The record also contains the Parker, Jr. version and was released to celebrate the 30th and 25th anniversaries of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II respectively.[53] That same year the soundtrack was also first released in digital format.[141]

LegacyEdit

Lasting receptionEdit

In the years since its release, Ghostbusters II has been labeled as the film that "killed" the franchise. This is in part because it made less money from a larger budget than Ghostbusters, but also because the filming experience and resulting reception dissuaded Murray from considering 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 has been noted that it may only seem that way in comparison to that film and is otherwise above-average.[143][105][34]

Others have defended the film as being as good as or better than Ghostbusters.[101] 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 good films in their own right, while Ghostbusters II has a perception of simply being a bad film despite being very similar to the original.[34] Some have said that the plot of Ghostbusters II is arguably better executed than in the original, with the multiple threads coming together in a "seamless" third act with a positive ending that works better with modern audiences. In a 2014 interview, Reitman defended the film saying that while it was unfairly compared with Batman at the time, he felt the Ghostbusters II still held up well against the superhero film today.[101]

Contemporary review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes offers a 53% approval rating from 71 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."[144] The film also has a score of 56 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 critical reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[145] In 2009, Den of Geek listed it as the one of the 25 Best Blockbuster Sequels of all Time.[146]

MerchandiseEdit

Merchandising when the original film came out was still a relatively new prospect that had only really begun to take off with the Star Wars series and carrying through to E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in 1982, and despite the success of Ghostbusters and of the films of 1984 in general, merchandising that year was a failure. Ghostbusters-related toys in particular did not sell well until it began to tie-in with the popular The Real Ghostbusters cartoon spin-off. Sequels were seen as a brighter prospect as it was based on established characters. Over two dozen tie-in toys were released alongside the film including water guns used to wash away separately available colored slimes,[147] coloring books, comics, and kids 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.[148] Now Comics also released a three-part comic book miniseries adaptation of the film set in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon universe. The story included subplots cut from the film including Ray's possession while driving the Ectomobile, and Tully trying to capture Slimer.[149][150][151]

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 as Activision held the rights to the game there.[152][153]

In the years since its release, Ghostbusters II merchandise has included Playmobil sets including figures and the Ectomobile 1A.[154] A board game, Ghostbusters: The Board Game II, was released in 2017 by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Based on the film, it casts the player as the Ghostbusters and tasks them with defeating Vigo and his ghostly minions. The game's creation was crowdfunded, raising over $760,000.[155][156][157] The 2019 Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida will host a 'Ghostbusters-themed haunted maze. While it mainly features locations, characters, and ghosts from Ghostbusters, it does include the Scoleri Brothers among its spooks.[158]

Sequels and spin-offsEdit

 
Jason Reitman, director of Ghostbusters 2020, a sequel to Ghostbusters II

Discussion of a sequel took place even during filming of Ghosbusters II, but Ramis was dismissive because of both the actors' ages and the difficulty in getting all of the cast together.[6] Despite the sequel's relative failure, the name recognition and popularity of the actors and their characters meant a third film was still pursued.[159] The concept failed to progress for many years as Murray was reluctant to participate.[127] The Real Ghostbusters series continued to air until 1991 after 7 seasons. Medjuck said that series technically took place after the events of Ghostbusters II.[26][5] The Real Ghostbusters was followed in 1997 by a sequel series Extreme Ghostbusters which aimed to reinvigorate the franchise, but lasted 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, that would add several new Ghostbusters and take them to ManHellton, a demonic version of Manhattan, and see them encounter the demon Lucifer.[159]

In 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released, featuring story consulting by Ramis and Aykroyd, and the likenesses and voice acting of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Potts, and Atherton. 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 has referred to the game as being "essentially the third movie".[160][159] The game also establishes that following the events of Ghostbusters II the portrait of Vigo became a decoration at the Ghostbusters firehouse.[161] Ghostbusters: The Return (2004) was the first in a planned-series of sequel novels before the publisher went out of business, and several Ghostbusters comic books have also continued the original groups adventures across the globe and other dimensions.[162][163]

Following Ramis' death in 2014, Reitman chose to no longer serve as director for a potential third film.[164][165] He decided that 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; he spent two weeks convincing Murray. Reitman refused to detail the deal but said that "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: Answer the Call directed by Paul Feig.[11] It starred Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as the titular Ghostbusters.[164][166] Before its release, the film was beset by controversies, and on release it became considered a box office bomb with mixed reviews.[167][168][169][170] A second, direct sequel to the original two films was announced in January 2019, with Reitman's son Jason serving as director. Written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan, the sequel is scheduled for a 2020 release.[171]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Ghostbusters II (1989)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on May 16, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
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BibliographyEdit

Books
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External linksEdit