Ever since 1994 when I hear someone say the phrase “who ya gonna call?” I either say it or hear in my head Ghostbusters. From now on I will hear the name Ivan Reitman. Unfortunately, Reitman passed away this week at the age of 75. Probably best known for directing Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II Reitman was behind some of the best comedy movies of all time. Ghostbusters grossed $300 million worldwide and for the longest time was the most successful film ever. Adjusted for inflation Ghostbusters is still in the top ten all time for domestic box office earnings.
We recently did a podcast on the movie Groundhog Day and couldn’t give enough praise to Harold Ramis for his work writing and directing that film. Between Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman, they account for a great deal of successful comedy films. Ramis wrote the comedy classic Animal House which Reitman produced. This set off a string of comedy hits that any writer/director would love to have on their resume.
The next big step for Reitman was directing the film Meatballs starring Bill Murray, which many say made Murray a star because it led him to several big-time comedy movies and billions in box office receipts.
Reitman was behind not only Animal House and 1981’s Stripes, but his directing credits include such hits as Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, Dave, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Six Days Seven Nights, Father’s Day, and No Strings Attached just to name a few. Reitman in an interview with CNN said he could never tell which movies would be hits but could always tell which actors would go on to be stars. The cast of Ghostbusters alone is a pretty good tell with Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Sigourney Weaver.
Reitman also influenced the next generation of comedy producing many of his son Jason’s movies including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air and most recently the latest incarnation of Ghostbusters with Ghostbusters Afterlife.
For those who have seen Ghostbusters Afterlife, Jason did a nice job of setting up a possible series of sequels. Dan Aykroyd is on record for wanting to do another two movies with the original cast. After seeing how they handled the late Harold Ramis’ character Dr. Egon Spengler, Reitman makes a strong case for how the franchise could carry on.
Ivan Reitman’s films will long outlive him and given how his son Jason is keeping the family business of filmmaking alive, the name Reitman is truly in its infancy.