The “Ghostbusters” movies were more than jokes, scares and state-of-the-art visual effects to director Ivan Reitman: they were his big-budget love letter to New York City.
Reflecting on his experiences shooting the first movie, which will be rereleased in theaters this weekend for its 30th anniversary, the 67-year-old said it was a dream to showcase the Big Apple.
The production was smooth and the city gave the now-classic an indispensable flavor, Reitman said.
“It’s the most logical place, at least in North America, to set this kind of film,” Reitman said. “It meant a lot to me to make a film that romanticized the city as well as satirize it.”
Reitman, who lived in New York on and off during the early part of his career in the ’70s, said when he was developing the script with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis they all agreed that Manhattan was the perfect place for heroes Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston. The city’s mix of history, cynicism and energy would ground the movie.
“I always loved Woody Allen’s early movies and how they sort of characterized New York,” Reitman said. “I sensed it would be important for the comedy.”
Reitman said city officials were totally cooperative and assisted with every aspect of production in 1983, including the film’s massive finale, which featured the street breaking apart in front of 55 Central Park West.
“They closed down Central Park West and Columbus Circle and allowed us to do these wonderful things, all kinds of stuff that you wouldn’t allow us to do today,” he said.
The director said showcasing the reactions of fictional New Yorkers dealing with an explosion of supernatural weirdness helped to sell the movie just as much as the iconic locations.
“I made a big point of focusing and centering on interesting faces and characters and getting that kind of legitimate New York people, regular guy sensibility that is such an important part of the city,” he said.
Ultimately, the director said the film’s long-lasting popularity comes from the on-screen camaraderie from the four main characters that comically have to deal with larger-than-life adventure in the city.
“There is an emotionality to this film as well as comedy and the genuine scares that somehow continues to resonate,” he said.
The first ‘Ghostbusters’ movie took place in some iconic New York locales:
New York Public Library Main Branch
The film’s first ghost scares a librarian and the heroes by playing with the card catalog (Google it) and checking out some books.
Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman come up with the plan for their ghost-hunters-for-hire service while spitballing ideas on the campus after being fired by the dean.
Hook and Ladder at 14 North Moore Street
The famous firehouse served as the exterior to the Ghostbusters’s headquarters. A the station painted a variation of the movie’s logo on the sidewalk.
Tavern on the Green
Poor Louis Tully always seems to be locked out at the worst time; the Central Park restaurant won’t let him in when he’s being chased by Vinz Clortho.
55 Central Park West
The movie’s grand finale at “Spook Central” was filmed here. Visual effects crews extended the building’s height to give it more of an ominous look.
8 Hook and Ladder
The famous firehouse at 14 North Moore St. served as the exterior for the Ghostbusters’ headquarters. The station painted a variation of the movie’s logo on the sidewalk.