Movie Attendance Price elasticity

Ghostbuster Economics

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 1, 2014    •    907 Views

Yesterday, I watched Ghostbusters for the first time. Having read in Quartz that the 1984 film was a good example of Reaganomics, I was curious. Also, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis (who died this past week) and Sigourney Weaver, the video was perfect for a Friday evening.

First, some Reaganomics:

  • “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” (News Conference; 8/12/86)
  • “We in government should learn to look at our country through the eyes of the entrepreneur, seeing possibilities where others see only problems.” (Radio Address to the Nation; 1/26/685)
  • “You knew that in the end it was free enterprise, not government regulation, not high taxes or big government spending, but free enterprise that led to the building of a great America.” (White House Meeting with General Contractors; 4/18/88)


Ghostbuster Reaganomics:

I guess we could say that Ghostbusters is about 3 entrepreneurs who attack a problem and achieve success after considerable perseverance. As Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) explains: “Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination needs.”

Foreshadowing the Savings & Loan crisis at the end of the 1980s, the loan they received from a NY bank was to start a rather dubious enterprise.

The closest connection to Reaganomics is the film’s message about government. More than the ghosts, the film’s villain is the Environmental Protection Agency representative who tries to shut down their business and almost destroys NYC instead. Concerned about their ghost storage facility, the EPA rep, Walter Peck says, “I wanna know more about what you do here! Frankly, I’ve heard a lot of wild stories in the media and we want to assess any possibility of dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals in your basement.”

An EPA excerpt:

Sources and resources: H/T to Quartz for alerting me to the connection between the film and Reaganomics and creating the incentive for me to watch it. My Reagan quotes were from the Reagan Foundation website and those from GhostbustersIMBD.



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