More than 25 years later the answer to the question "Who ya gonna call?" remains "Ghostbusters!"
The specter-busting quartet that debuted in 1984 on movie screens and then was in a sequel and an animated series remains firmly planted in pop culture thanks, in part, to a wide international fan base, a new comic book series and a next-generation video game coming out this month.
"There'd be no Ghostbusters brand if not for the classic comedy that launched it all. It's incredible that people are still responding more than 25 years later to these great stories and characters," Mark Kaplan, vice president of consumer products at Sony Pictures Entertainment, told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "We love finding ways to expand that experience for the fans, whether it's through midnight screenings and DVDs or games, comics and toys that really allow audiences to engage with the movie."
Tom Waltz, an editor at IDW Publishing, which released the first "Ghostbusters: Infestation" comic last week, called the quartet _ Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore _ a veritable brand name, one that has drawn fans of film, TV, comics and gaming.
"Movies, video games, the prose novels and obviously the comic books are intertwined and to the point where I think ... you're trying to create a brand," Waltz, who wrote the upcoming game, told the AP.
The original movie, titled "Ghost Busters" on screen, starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as out-of-work parapsychology professors who set up a ghost removal service and featured Ernie Hudson as their hired gun. It remains one of the top-grossing comedies ever. Its theme song, by Ray Parker Jr., begins with the classic line, "If there's something strange, in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!"
The new Atari game, "Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime," is set for release March 23 for Xbox Live Arcade, Sony PlayStation Network and Windows PCs via download at atari.com.
"In 'Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime,' we are introducing an entirely new look and gameplay experience on digital platforms that will impress new and loyal Ghostbusters fans alike," said Jim Wilson, president and CEO of Atari Inc.
The upcoming release lets four players take part and play the roles of rookies who have been tapped to save New York from a ghoulish disaster.
Waltz called the four new characters _ Alan Crendall, Samuel Hazer, Bridget Gibbons and Gabriel Sitter _ not replacements for the original crew, led by Murray as Venkman, but the next generation.
"What I try to do, to a certain degree, is to mirror the four distinct personalities to our original heroes but in a way that the character who is the Venkman of the group would be the last person you'd think is the Venkman of the group," he said.
He said he also strived to create "characters that are likeable enough in their own way with their personalities," so that "people will accept them."
Ultimately, he added, the characters in the game could find themselves being written into the comics, too.
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