With Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire coming out in March this year, we look at the past and future of this popular movie franchise. (Photo by Winston Chen on Unsplash).

The Ghostbusters movies began in 1984 with a comedy about scientists who start a ghost capture business. Starring popular comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, the original film earned almost $229.2 million, which led to more movies.

Now we are in 2024 and awaiting the release of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, mentioned in our previous article – 2024 FILM PREVIEW.

The Original Ghostbusters was an Instant Hit!

Of some of the most memorable movies made in the past half-century, 1994 produced 5 top films. And Ghostbusters topped them all. As a testament to just how popular the Ghostbusters movie became, it beat the film earmarked to become the box office hit of the year, which was supposed to be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The film was also so popular that Ray Parker Jr’s theme tune for the movie made it to number 1 on the USA’s Billboard Hot 100 chart.

What were the Top 5 most successful 1994 Box Office Hits?

  • Ghostbusters – ($229.2 million)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – ($179.9 million)
  • Gremlins – ($148.2 million)
  • The Karate Kid – ($90.8 million)
  • Police Academy – ($81.2 million)

Although compared to today’s huge multi-million box office gross revenues, 1984’s revenues look small, but these were high numbers back then.

Ghostbusters Sequels Capturing the Original’s Success

The 1989 sequel Ghostbusters II did decently well, and fans wanted more. After difficulties making a third film for years, the franchise was rebooted in 2016 with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Though reactions were mixed, it brought attention back to the series.

In 2021, Ghostbusters: Afterlife directly continued the early movies’ storylines with original cast members appearing. It got good reviews and did well financially.

With the franchise now back in the hearts and minds of Gen X and Gen Y, who were around for the original release in 1994 and the sequel, and new versions now capturing the hearts and minds of Gen Z and Generation Alpha viewers, Ghostbusters is back on the movie menu and is likely to continue for a good few years yet. Rumour has it that Dan Aykroyd and co are interested in continuing pat the Frozen Empire movie for up to 3 more sequels, yet there has been no confirmation of whether this will happen.

Ghostbusters 4 Is Arriving This Year (2024)

Next is Ghostbusters 4, which is Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, arriving this year. The movie brings the original characters back together in the Big Apple by reuniting Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and others from the first films alongside Paul Rudd.

As for spoilers, here’s the movie trailer.

The Full Ghostbuster Franchise to Date

With this year’s release of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, there will be 5 movies from the franchise. Although Frozen Empire is dubbed Ghostbusters 4, it is the fifth movie, which may seem confusing.

It is simply because Frozen Empire follows on from the 1984, 1989, and 2021 releases, while the 2016 Ghostbusters: Answer the Call doesn’t fit into the previous stories as a sequel. As a result, this year’s 2024 release goes down as Ghostbusters 4.

Here is a brief overview of all 5 Ghostbusters movies:

  • Ghostbusters (1984) – This beloved first movie introduced parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson). After losing university jobs, they start a ghost-catching business in New York City, ultimately saving the city from an ancient god.
  • Ghostbusters II (1989) – Here, the main cast returns when the Ghostbusters reform after being sued out of business. They take on a powerful 16th-century ghost after finding negative slime under New York affected by people’s attitudes.
  • Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) – This reboot features a new female team (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones) who begin looking into paranormal events in New York City and take on a destructive ghost despite skepticism.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) – Set years later, two kids and their mom (Carrie Coon) inherit property from estranged grandfather Egon and discover the original Ghostbusters’ history when supernatural events happen in their Oklahoma town.
  • Ghostbusters 4 (2024) – For this sequel, original stars like Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray will return along with Paul Rudd. Details are unknown but it will likely feature veteran Ghostbusters working with and mentoring a younger team.

Lasting Popularity

As with movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Top Gun, Rocky and, later this year, Beverley Hills Cops, whereby the original actors from the first movie releases return to the big screen as their older selves, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is going to do the same with the film will be

Not having to reinvent characters and bringing back the old ones is a popular Hollywood trend. Look at Top Gun: Maverick – it became the second-highest-earning film of 2022 with a gross income of $1,495,696,292, just behind Avatar: The Way of the Water, which earned an astounding $2,320,250,281.

Could Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire also bring in this kind of money? Maybe not. Ghostbusters: Afterlife grossed $204.3 million, which isn’t close to Top Gun. In fact, the movie didn’t even make it into the top 20 highest-earning movies of 2021. Yet, $204.3 million is enough to justify more sequels, which is great news for Ghostbusters fans.

Clearly, this franchise still resonates strongly. If the latest movies attract audiences, we could see fresh-faced stars taking up the proton packs again soon. As their motto goes: who you gonna call?

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