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Ghostbusters is a 1984 American supernatural comedy film directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler, respectively, a trio of eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis, and features Annie Potts, William Atherton, and Ernie Hudson in supporting roles.

Based on his own fascination with spirituality, Aykroyd conceived Ghostbusters as a project starring himself and John Belushi, in which they would adventure through time and space battling supernatural threats. Following Belushi's death in 1982, and with Aykroyd's concept deemed financially impractical, Ramis was hired to help rewrite the script to set it in New York City and make it more realistic. Ghostbusters was the first comedy film to employ expensive special effects, and Columbia Pictures was concerned about its relatively high $25–30 million budget and had little faith in its box office potential. Filming took place from October 1983 to January 1984, in New York City and Los Angeles. Due to competition for special effects studios among various films in development at the time, Richard Edlund used part of the budget to found Boss Film Studios, which employed a combination of practical effects, miniatures, and puppets to deliver the ghoulish visuals.

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984, to critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon. It was well received for its blend of comedy, action, and horror, and Murray's performance was often singled out for praise. The film earned $282.2 million during its initial theatrical run, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 1984, and the then-highest-grossing comedy ever. It was the number-one film in theaters for seven consecutive weeks and was one of only four films to gross more than $100 million that year. Further theatrical releases have increased the total gross to approximately $295.2 million, making it one of the most successful comedy films of the 1980s. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Its theme song, "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr., was also a number-one hit.

With its effect on popular culture, and a dedicated fan following, the success of Ghostbusters launched a multi-billion dollar multimedia franchise. This included the popular animated television series The Real Ghostbusters (1986), its sequel Extreme Ghostbusters (1997), video games, board games, comic books, clothing, music, and haunted attractions. Ghostbusters was followed in 1989 by Ghostbusters II, which fared less well financially and critically. Attempts to develop a second sequel paused in 2014 following Ramis's death. A 2016 reboot, also called Ghostbusters, was released to mixed reviews and financial failure. A second sequel to the 1984 film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, is scheduled for release in November 2021.

Plot

Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler are parapsychology professors at Columbia University investigating the paranormal. Following their first encounter with a ghost manifesting at the New York Public Library, the university dean fires them and dismisses the credibility of their research. In response, they establish "Ghostbusters", a paranormal investigation and elimination service operating out of a disused firehouse. They develop high-tech nuclear-powered equipment to capture and contain ghosts, although business is initially slow.

After a paranormal encounter in her apartment, cellist Dana Barrett calls the Ghostbusters. She recounts seeing a demonic dog-like creature that uttered a single word: "Zuul". Ray and Egon research Zuul while Peter offers to inspect Dana's apartment in a failed attempt to seduce her. The Ghostbusters are hired to remove a gluttonous ghost, Slimer, from the Sedgewick Hotel. Having failed to properly test their equipment, Egon warns the group to never cross the energy streams of their proton pack weapons as it could cause a catastrophic explosion. They capture the ghost and deposit it in an ecto-containment unit under the firehouse. Supernatural activity rapidly increases across the city and the Ghostbusters become famous for their exploits; they hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore, to cope with the growing demand.

Suspicious of the Ghostbusters, Environmental Protection Agency inspector Walter Peck asks to evaluate their equipment but is rebuffed by Peter. Later, Egon warns that the containment unit is nearing capacity and supernatural energy is surging across the city. Peter meets with Dana and informs her Zuul was a demigod worshipped as a servant to "Gozer the Gozerian", a shape-shifting god of destruction. When Dana returns home, she is possessed by Zuul; a similar entity possesses her neighbor, Louis Tully. Peter arrives and finds the possessed Dana/Zuul claiming to be "the Gatekeeper". Louis is brought to Egon by police officers and claims he is "Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster". The Ghostbusters agree to keep the pair separated.

Peck returns with law enforcement and city workers to have the Ghostbusters arrested and their containment unit deactivated, causing an explosion that releases the captured ghosts. Louis/Vinz escapes in the confusion and makes his way to the apartment building to join Dana/Zuul. In jail, Ray and Egon reveal Dana's building was designed by Ivo Shandor, leader of a Gozer-worshipping cult, to function as an antenna to attract and concentrate spiritual energy to summon Gozer and bring about the apocalypse. Faced with supernatural chaos across the city, the Ghostbusters convince the mayor to release them.

The Ghostbusters travel to the apartment building roof as Dana/Zuul and Louis/Vinz open the gate between dimensions and transform into demonic dogs. Gozer appears in the form of a woman and attacks the Ghostbusters then disappears when they attempt to retaliate. Her disembodied voice demands the Ghostbusters "choose the form of the destructor". Ray inadvertently recalls a beloved corporate mascot from his childhood, and Gozer reappears in the form of a gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that begins destroying the city. Against his earlier advice, Egon instructs the team to cross their proton energy streams at the dimensional gate. The resulting explosion destroys Gozer's avatar, banishing it back to its dimension, and closes the gateway. The Ghostbusters rescue Dana and Louis from the wreckage and are welcomed on the street as heroes.

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