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For more than 30 years now the word "Ghostbusters" has conjured up some very specific images. When you hear it, there's a good chance you think of those four guys in their jumpsuits, maybe the giant Stay-Puft Man or Slimer, and you might even hear that classic Ray Parker Jr. theme song in your head. But, due to some early copyright issues in producing the film, Ghostbusters was almost called something else, and it was serious enough that the film's stars actually shot alternate versions of the famous TV commercial scene dubbing themselves different names.
To promote the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, original Ghostbusters stars Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Dan Aykroyd stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Monday night, and of course Fallon was eager to talk to them about what it was like to put the first film together way back in 1983. After stories of joyriding on police motorcycles and paring the original script down to a more New York-based concept (Aykroyd's original story had them journeying to another dimension by the end of the first movie), Fallon brought up something die-hard Ghostbusters fans might have already heard about: There was actually a title dispute over the original name.
Yes, before Ghostbusters arrived in 1984, the title had actually already been used for a short-lived 1975 sitcom dubbed The Ghost Busters.
"There was a show on Taft Broadcasting with Larry Storch, remember from F Troop, and Forrest Tucker, and it was called Ghost Busters," Aykroyd recalled. "And they had a gorilla that went around busting ghosts. It wasn't like the technology that we had, or anything we did, but it was just the title. So we had to pay to get the title."
The production, of course, ultimately did get the right to use the name Ghostbusters, but they did try out some alternate titles just in case. In the video below, at about 6:25, you can see Murray, Aykroyd, and co-star and co-writer Harold Ramis trying out a few alternate names for their paranormal team.
Ghostbusters was a tremendous mash-up of comedy talent, bringing in some of the funniest people working in 1984 to perform Ramis and Aykroyd clever, joke-a-minute script, and Reitman poured on the visual effects to make the film into a spectacular paranormal, so it probably would have worked on some level regardless of the title. Still, it's a little odd to think that we might have been getting excited about a legacy called Ghostblasters: Afterlife if they hadn't gotten their way.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters Friday.