It was released in the United States on June 8, 1984, and was a critical success, receiving a positive response from critics and audiences, while grossing US$238 million in the United States and more than $291 million worldwide. The film became a cultural phenomenon and an instant classic.
The film represents as an icon of the 1980’s as it criticises big government authorities, the main characters value the needs and the rights of the common people over the august authorities that lord over them. This is seen when a lawyer representing the EPA, who has the team arrested for operating an unlicensed nuclear device and orders their ghost containment grid deactivated, unleashing hundreds of captured ghosts onto the city.
The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man clearly represents consumerism gone wild, a corporate icon running rampant, implying that Americans big corporations succeeded all too well, and now America's love for its corporations has literally created a monster. This can be seen as a strong reference to the economic recession of the early 80’s, which is when the film was also released.
Ghostbusters is a film about three logical, scientific people (the parapsychologists) with a streak of rational self-interest (Venkman), rejected by the community of self-styled intellectuals. They instead assert their individual rights and take up laissez-faire capitalism. Their chief enemy is government interference, and only when the most ‘productive’ citizens are unshackled the world saved for all. It is also worth noting that the final ‘battle’ consists of high risk and high reward and within Manhattan New York City the world of finance making it very capitalist, very 80’s.
Another reason why Ghostbusters represents the 80’s is because it appealed to the younf generation in this tie period. As critic Saul Austerlitz notes: "Smirking, winking, commenting on rather than taking part in the action, Bill Murray was the ideal comic hero for a generation raised on dreams of rebellion but too unmotivated to rebel themselves."
Ghostbusters also followed the trend of films throughout the 1980s which saw the continued rise of the blockbuster, and an increasing emphasis in the American industry on film franchises (especially in the science fiction, horror, and action genres), as well as continuing another trend of significantly developing film franchises ; producing a sequel, comic books, video games, TV series and a theme park.