Back in the day, wide releases were unheard of for certain types of comedies. People were unsure they would make money and who they would appeal to. So you have to convince theater owners why they should show their movies.
Even movies we think are classics now, like Ghostbusters.
Check out this video of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd making their pitch to theater owners!
So did it work?
Hell yes, it did.
Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984. It was not a slow opening, it was a massive hit. The opening weekend it garnered critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon.
The deft genre blend of comedy, action, and horror, and Bill Murray's performance was singled out for praise. Roger Ebert said, "The movie stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, three graduates of the Second City/National Lampoon/"Saturday Night Live" tradition. They're funny, but they're not afraid to reveal that they're also quick-witted and intelligent; their dialogue puts nice little spins on American clichés, and it uses understatement, irony, in-jokes, vast cynicism, and cheerful goofiness. Rarely has a movie this expensive provided so many quotable lines."
And the money rolled in.
The film earned $282.2 million during its initial theatrical run, making it the second-highest-grossing film of that year, and the highest-grossing comedy of all time at that point.
Everyone saw this movie and everyone was talking about it. It was the number-one film in theaters for seven consecutive weeks and was one of only four films to gross more than $100 million that year.
It did so well they rereleased the film which brought the total gross to approximately $295.7 million, making it the most successful comedy film of the 1980s. Its theme song, "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr., was also a number-one hit.
And in 2015, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
So it's a good thing theaters decided to show it!