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Shot On Site - 3-D Effects So Real, The Ghosts Jump Right Off The Screen

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 2, Filming Locations , Tags: shot-on-site
Welcome to Spook Central's special "Shot On Site Summer" event. Throughout the Summer, I've been posting Shot On Site articles on Spook Central detailing newly-discovered Ghostbusters filming locations. Click here to view the current schedule. Please note that this post is going to be very image-intensive. Today's Ghostbusters II location was identified by Matthew Jordan. Let's see what it is, shall we...

All of the negative emotions bubbling up under the city has reached its boiling point, causing all sorts of supernatural havoc to leak out onto the streets and harbors of Manhattan. One manifestation sees theater patrons running out of a crowded movie theater, fleeing from a Pepto Bismol-colored six-eyed four-armed winged apparition.

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I've always felt that this shot was done in or around Times Square, and I was right. It was actually done at the old Movieland theater at 1567 Broadway, right across the street from the George M. Cohan statue and McDonald's (formerly WeinerWald) that Louis wandered past in the first movie. Movieland was first known as the Central Theatre when it was built for the Shubert family in 1918 by Herbert J. Krapp on the former Mathushek & Son piano factory site. From 1921 through 1957, the venue alternated movies and live theatre (including a fair amount of striptease and burlesque), during which time its name was changed to Columbia Theatre (in 1934), back to Central Theatre the same year, Gotham Theatre (in 1944), Holiday Theatre (in 1951), and Odeon Theatre (in 1957). Movies kept it afloat throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. In mid-1959, the Odeon became the Forum, and a decade later, the Forum 47th Street. In October 1980 it was renamed Movieland, a name it retained until March 1989 when it was closed. The lobby was turned into the Roxy Delicatessen, while the auditorium became a disco, called Dance USA. The auditorium was demolished around 2005 to make way for the W Hotel (whose entrance is on 47th Street).

If you weren't already aware, Times Square has changed a LOT since Ghostbusters II was filmed there in 1988 and 1989. This identification could not be done at all using any recent photography of Times Square, so I've had to resort to vintage photos taken in the late 1980s/early 1990s, which were taken from vantage points different from that of the movie. So, to make sure that no one is confused, I've put together a map that shows where all of the points of connection were back in 1989. Feel free to refer to it as you read along.

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Everything on this map is roughly in the right spot, close enough to show where everything is in relation to each other. This is not drawn to scale, and is meant to be somewhat generalized, so not all details are included. The map is based off of the early-2000s map found at NYCTourist.com, though I heavily modified it. The "Ghostbusters II Camera" icon is positioned where the film camera was that was taking the theater ghost shot.

Now that you have the map for reference, let's dissect that movie shot, shall we... Starting with the very first frame of the shot, we see a Kirin Beer neon sign on the far left, which we still see a little bit of once the camera moves down to street level. That sign is located on the building diagonally across the street at the corner of 46th St. and 7th Ave. On the other side of the frame we see a tiny bit of the security gate cover/awning for Florsheim Shoes, right next to the Movieland theater at 1567 Broadway (it's currently the Blue Fin restaurant). On the other side of Movieland we match up the security gate cover/awning for the Playland arcade (also no longer there, and not to be confused with another Playland arcade located elsewhere in the area). (Kirin Beer Sign photo taken in 1989 by Frank Picard. Movieland Police Academy 3 photo taken in 1986, uploaded to Cinema Treasures by William.)

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On the other side of the Playland arcade we see Burger King, though it's a little hard to make out the sign in the movie shot due to it being filmed from the side. This Burger King at 1557 Broadway was the former location of New York's first Horn & Hardart Automat. For those unfamiliar with the concept of an Automat, it's essentially a cafeteria containing vending machines filled with real food. If you wanted a turkey sandwich, you put your coins in the slot, turn the knob, and take your food. In the mid-1970's the Automat was replaced by a Burger King, which was replaced in 1991 by a Grand Slam New York souvenir and apparel store. Oh, and for those playing along at home, Grand Slam gobbled up the Playland arcade location, too. It's all one big store now. (Movieland The Believers photo taken in 1987 by Brian Camp.)

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If you look further down the road, you can even see the Marquis Theatre's (1535 Broadway) marquee advertising "Me and My Girl", which was the first play to be performed there. It ran from August 10, 1986 to December 31, 1989. (Middle black & white image taken on April 20, 1987 by Warren Jorgensen. Me & My Girl poster courtesy of the JK's TheatreScene website.)

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You know what band of struggling street musicians once performed outside of the Marquis Theatre? The Ramones. Here they are in Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" music video, followed by a photo taken in May 2009 by Google Maps showing what the theater looks like 20 years later. Yeah, it's probably the only thing in Times Square that hasn't changed.

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You know what else appears in the Bobby Brown music video? The billboards above the Movieland theater, and the billboards on the other side of the street down the block from McDonald's. Below is a panorama shot of the north end of Times Square, assembled by Matthew Jordan from photographs taken by Jason Vorhees during his 1989 trip to Manhattan (click on it for full size). Below that are two shots from the music video. In the left circle is Burger King and the Movieland theater, in the middle circle is the George M. Cohan statue, and in the right circle is McDonald's (formerly WeinerWald). Bobby replaced the Canon billboard above Howard Johnson's. The three billboards behind the Cohan statue (Suntory Whisky, Diet Coke, Batman) were replaced by Ghostbusters II movie footage, Bobby, and the Ghostbusters II logo, respectively. The Foster's and Panasonic billboards were not replaced, but they were blurred out.

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Now getting back to the identification of the Ghostbusters II theater ghost shot... We have one last connection to make. On the left of the movie shot - until that damn bus parks in front of it - you see a white building with uniformly rectangular windows and an odd-looking sculpture of some sort in front of it. That building is One Broadway Place, located at 1540 Broadway, which was under construction at the time the movie was filmed (it was completed in 1990). That odd-looking sculpture is some sort of decorative construction used to advertise the place, as well as maintaining the safety of the site. In the set of photos below, the movie shot is on the top left, a shot of the building shortly after it was finished in the early 1990s is on the top right (taken by Roger W. Hicks), and a wide shot of Time Square at night in 1989 looking north with the decorative construction seen on the right is on the bottom (taken by Frank Picard). The bottom image is the only good photo of the building with that decorative construction in front of it that could be found online, and as you can see, it's taken from the opposite angle, so it might be hard for you to see that it's a match. You can click on it to see the full-size image, in which you can clearly see the Marquis marquee advertising Me and My Girl, the Canon billboard, the Burger King, the Suntory Whisky sign, the Diet Coke sign, the Batman sign (though it's mostly hidden), the Foster's sign, the Panasonic sign, AND even some McDonald's signage, I think all of that proves that that's the correct building. Really, are you gonna doubt me at this point in the article?!?

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One Broadway Place is now known as the Bertelsmann Building, as it is home to the North American headquarters of Bertelsmann. It was the subject of Jerry Adler's 1993 book, "High Rise: How 1,000 Men and Women Worked Around the Clock for Five Years and Lost $200 Million Building a Skyscraper" (NY Times review). This is what the building looked like in May 2009 (courtesy of Google Maps). Yeah, it's quite the eyesore.

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That Planet Hollywood you see there on the right was, up until 2004/2005, home to this awesome display of Ghostbusters props (and a few others lying around the place). I'll eventually scan in the set of Planet Hollywood photos I took on April 22, 2003 and add them to this site (the image below is a sample), but in the meantime check out Ghostbusters Fans' photos.

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Finally - yes, there is an end to this massively-long article - you might be wondering what the Ghostbusters II movie shot would look like if it were filmed today. Well, you need not wonder, as thanks to Gwenael Piaser we have our answer. Here's the movie shot followed by a photo Gwenael took on July 20, 2009 from practically the same vantage point. Replace a movie theater with a delicatessen, and a Kirin Beer sign with one for Momma Mia, and what you'd see is shown below (click on it to enlarge). Oh, and just for fun, below the 2009 photo is one from February 1956 (uploaded by Cezar Del Valle of TheatreTalks.com) from roughly the same vantage point as well (well, standing at the corner of 47th St. and Broadway). Movieland was known as the Holiday back then (you can't miss its large yellow marquee advertising "Debut"), and you see that Florsheim Shoes was still located next door, even all those years earlier. You can see part of the Automat sign (later Burger King) sticking out from behind the Holiday marquee. Over on the left, the Scripto billboard would become Kirin Beer, and later Momma Mia. The Lowes State building, which is showing Godzilla in the photo, was closed on February 19, 1987, with demolition beginning the next day. That's where One Broadway Place was built in 1989, now the Bertelsmann Building.

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For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central's Shot On Site articles, Spook Central's Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart's Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title.
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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

In Loving Memory of Linda Joyce Rudoff (July 12, 1948 - November 29, 2015)

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