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Book: Sounding Funny

Chapter: Paranormal Product: The Music and Promotion of Ghostbusters

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24491


Paramount Pictures’ feature Ghostbusters (dir: Ivan Reitman, 1984) was a major commercial success for the company. The film topped the US box office in its year of release and achieved substantial success on subsequent video and DVD releases. The film also spawned group of associated media products, including a film sequel (Ghostbusters II, 1989); two animated TV series (1986-91 and 1997) - also subsequently released on video and DVD; a continuing series of video games; a number of allied comics and novelisations; and a theme park attraction at Universal Studios in Florida. The creative property is estimated to have grossed over a billion US dollars worldwide. Despite this high-level of commercial success, the initial film project was far from an obvious commercial prospect as a left-of-field genre meld of supernatural horror, fantasy and comedy produced on a budget of US$30 million. The chapter identifies the manner in which music was crucial to the style, ‘tone’ and impact of the film and played a key role in its marketing. The chapter considers the principal elements of the film’s musical score - its theme song, other pop-rock tracks and Elmer Bernstein’s orchestral compositions - and how these combined to create an integrated thematic text. Additional consideration is given to the nature and function of the promotional video for the film’s theme song and the manner in which its style template facilitated subsequent unauthorized product.

Chapter Contributors

  • Jon Fitzgerald ( - jonfitzgerald) 'Southern Cross University'
  • Philip Hayward ( - philh) 'University of Technology Sydney'