Back in 1984, Ivan Reitman directed and produced Ghostbusters. We now know how big of a hit the movie was, and how it spawned an incredibly successful franchise. But at the time, Reitman was not sure if fans would like it—and if they would take to one of the most iconic characters in the film.
Reitman told CinemaBlend that he was most worried about the audience reaction to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, a giant monster in the movie that resembles the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
“I remember the first time we showed Ghostbusters. It was really to a preview audience in Burbank in 1984. It was February. And the movie had just been—we’d literally just finished shooting three or four weeks before that. It wasn’t a rough cut, it was a fairly well cut… but there were no special effects. So can you imagine showing Ghostbusters with no visual effects? But we thought what was important was that the story was going to work and hopefully the humor was going to work,” Reitman said. “When we shot those proton packs nothing came out of the proton packs. When Dana opened a refrigerator, we didn’t even have that shot, all we had was ‘scene missing.’ The audience groaned, but they were having a good time… Slimer was just a light going on and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was the thing that scared me the most about what we were doing. I had no idea if the audience would accept something as goofy as that.”
Fortunately for Reitman and the Ghostbusters cast, the audience not only accepted the Stay-Puft man, but they loved him despite the fact they didn’t even get to see the character as it is known today.
“But we didn’t have the Stay-Puft Marshmallow in that [version]. We had a guy in a costume with kind of a styrofoam head. And that very first shot in the movie of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walking past these Tribeca Buildings and all you could see was the bobbing head was all we had. The audience went crazy! It made me feel so good that we were going to get away with it.”
Now, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is one of the most recognizable parts of the Ghostbusters franchise, which has evolved to include multiple films, television series, video games, and more. Even decades after the film’s release, fans are clamoring for more Ghostbusters content, which they will get in the form of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Afterlife is set for a theatrical release on Nov. 11, 2021. The movie will star Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts will also reprise their roles from the original Ghostbusters movie.