The Ranch started in 1934, as a 40 acre plot purchased by Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures Corporation. The Studio, with its headquarters located at Sunset & Gower, in Hollywood, made numerous movies, but had to rent neighboring movie studios 'Back-lots' for outdoor shooting due to the lack of space at the Sunset lot. By the end of 1934 this problem was solved as Columbia had acquired a 40 acre lot on the other side of the Hollywood Hills in Burbank, at the corner of Hollywood Way and Oak Street, on what is said to have been the Burbank Motion Pictures Stables. It was the perfect "Back-Lot" as it was still rural enough to be landscaped as the studio needed it to be.
From the start, Columbia Pictures used the Ranch as a backdrop for many serials, such as "Captain Midnight", "Blondie" and "The Three Stooges". In the 1960s, the Ranch was booming with business. Not only were movies being filmed on a regular basis, but more and more television shows were being shot on the Ranch as well. Some notiable shows shot on the Ranch include "Gidget", "Bewitched", "I Dream of Jeannie", "The Flying Nun", "The Monkees", and many more.
In 1970, a catastrophic fire destroyed a quarter of the lot. Half of the Western set, the Colonial/European set and parts of Blondie street burned down, including the Blondie house itself. Although quickly rebuilt, another fire in April, in the same area, and another fire in August of that year, destroyed much of what was original to the Ranch.
By mid 1971, Columbia and Warner Bros studios decided to combine their forces in order to combat the financial troubles either one encountered and formed a merger under the name The Burbank Studios. In doing so, the Ranch became a true "Back-back Lot" as Warner Bros already had a massive backlot. In 1990, Columbia Pictures separated itself from Warner Bros, and left Burbank, leaving the Ranch completely. Warner Bros. gained ownership of the lot and renamed it Warner Ranch. The ranch, which now contains soundstages, is still in active use.
- Please note: The Ranch is closed to the public. However, if you are interested in visiting their other studio lot (located 1 mile south of the Ranch), check out the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour website.
- During the earthquake scene at the end of the movie, seamless editing allowed a perfect blend of both the New York location and a set on the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA that was an exact replica of the street and ground floor of the building. After it was done, while the California set was really "destroyed", the New York location was dressed up with fake chunks of ground and a police car cut in half to look like it was in a sinkhole.
- There are subtle ways to tell which shots are from the New York location and which are from the set in California. In the California footage the sidewalk was very violently broken up, however in the New York footage there is no visible damage to the sidewalk. The ambulance in California has a red side light and two lights on the back, while the ambulance in New York has no side light and only one center mounted rear light. If you pay very close attention to the rotating light inside the light bar on the roof of the police car, you can notice one more very subtle difference. The police car in Los Angeles has a light that rotates counter clockwise; while the car in New York has a light that rotates clockwise. (Thanks to Stayinpuft for noticing all of these differences.)
- Because shooting time ran out in New York, Venkman's entrance into Dana's apartment house was not shot at the 55 Central Park West location - but rather at a facsimile of its ground floor constructed at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank for the later sinkhole sequence. Rather than go to the expense of bringing the New York "doorman" to Los Angeles, a different, but similar-looking actor was hired for the pickup scene.
- As stated in Don Shay's book "Making Ghostbusters", the deleted scene Fort Detmerring exterior set was a standing set at the Columbia Ranch, dressed rather simply with an identifying sign and a guard shack. The Single Officers' Quarters at Fort Detmerring, where Ray has his encounter with the Dream Ghost, is really a small set adjacent to Dana's apartment on Stage 12.
- The set that was used for the Fort Detmerring exterior is known amongst fans of the Ranch as the Convent set. It was built in the early days of the Ranch, probably in the late 1930's, with an air of the Orient and Middle East. Early pictures show that it had oriental characters in signs on the buildings. It is probably most notably remembered and seen in "The Flying Nun" television series as a convent in Puerto Rico. For this the entire set was redressed to represent the flair and style of that country and era. In August of 1970 a major fire broke out again on the Ranch and this time it destroyed not only part of the Colonial set, but also took with it almost the entire Convent set. It was to be rebuilt according to plans, but was not done so. The stone arch that the Ecto-1 drove through is evidently a post-fire addition, when you compare it to the earlier set pictures. The standing structures were redressed to represent a Mexican village and left standing until September 1996 when it was torn down. The set can be seen in an episode of Code Red from 1981. For more information, check out my Shot On Site article about the Fort Detmerring exterior. (text written by ColumbiaRanch.net)
Real World Photos