With re-release, can 'Ghostbusters' pull a 'Lion King'?
It worked for lions, so why not for Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd too?
Sony announced Thursday that it was bringing back 1984's "Ghostbusters" for a weekly engagement in theaters in October, continuing the revival theme embodied by last week's re-release of the box office hit "The Lion King."
For three consecutive Thursdays beginning Oct. 13, director Ivan Reitman's action-comedy will play in about 500 theaters around the country, the studio said. The Los Angeles-area venues have not yet been announced.
Reitman's classic starred Murray, Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as a trio of paranormal specialists who remove ghosts from New York City buildings, and built to a climactic showdown with the larger-than-life (and larger-than-skyscrapers) Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. A sequel was released in 1989.
The Halloween-themed presentation is being touted as a chance for filmgoers to see an improved viewing experience. "This is a special celebration of the movie, giving the fans a chance to see it on the big screen in perfect digital presentation," said Sony Distribution President Rory Bruer, noting that the re-release will benefit from sound and projection technology that had not yet been created 27 years ago.
With the move, Sony will try to replicate Disney's current success in dusting off "The Lion King." The 1994 musical hit has grossed nearly $40 million since being re-released last weekend. Most of those dollars, however, have come from new 3-D showings; "Ghostbusters" is not getting a 3-D conversion.
Whether nostalgia and a slightly enhanced viewing experience will be enough to compel filmgoers to see "Ghostbusters" again remains to be seen. (Other classics have tried similar gambits over the years, including limited runs for "The Godfather" and an upcoming 3-D re-release of films in the "Star Wars" franchise.)
It's hard not to see another motive in the revival. As a third "Ghostbusters" film from the lead writers of TV's "The Office" remains in limbo (in part because of Murray's equivocation), a "Ghostbusters" re-release could prime the pump for a new film -- and, maybe, show the quirky star that it's worth coming back for it.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Bill Murray, left, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in "Ghostbusters." Credit: Sony Pictures