When Ghost was released over 25 years ago, it was hardly on anyone’s radar, with the exception of critics, who panned it. Somehow this supernatural-romantic-thriller, in which the lead character is an apparition, levitated out of the shadows to not only become the world’s highest-grossing film of 1990, but to win two Oscars. Here are some ghostly facts about a film that explores how even in death, love thrives.
1. WHOOPI GOLDBERG CREDITS HER OSCAR WIN TO PATRICK SWAYZE.
On The View, Goldberg revealed that she only got the role of Oda Mae Brown because Swayze fought for her. The producers resisted casting her, but Swayze told them he wasn’t doing the film unless Whoopi was in it, too, and that she was right for the part—even though at that point she and Swayze had never met. “And I won an Oscar because of Patrick Swayze,” Goldberg said. In her 1991 Oscar speech, she thanked Swayze, calling him “a stand-up guy.”
2. GHOST OUT-GROSSED EVERY MOVIE RELEASED IN 1990.
When a low-budget movie makes an unanticipated large sum of money, it’s considered a “sleeper” hit, which is exactly what happened to Ghost. Produced for a modest $22 million, it ended the year with a worldwide gross of $505,702,588—that’s a lot of “dittos.” According to Box Office Mojo, Home Alone ranks as the highest-grossing domestic film of 1990, with Ghost a close second. But Home Alone didn’t surpass Ghost’s hull until February of 1991. Ghost hit another milestone when it spent 19 consecutive weekends in the top five weekend box office, ranking number five on the all-time weekend list.
3. GHOST TURNED DEMI MOORE INTO THE HIGHEST-PAID ACTRESS AT THE TIME.
By the time Ghost was released, Moore was already famous for her roles in St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night..., but she wasn’t considered a bankable star. After the unexpected $200 million domestic gross of Ghost, she hit box office gold with a trifecta of other huge hits: 1992’s A Few Good Men ($141,340,178), 1993’s Indecent Proposal ($106,614,059), and 1994’s Disclosure ($83,015,089). If you add up all of Demi’s film grosses, it comes out to more than $1 billion. In 1995, she was paid an unprecedented $12.5 million to take her clothes off in Striptease. The film wasn’t a huge hit, and a few years later she traded Hollywood for Idaho.
4. DIRECTOR JERRY ZUCKER SAID HE’D CAST PATRICK SWAYZE “OVER MY DEAD BODY.”
In a video that appears on the Ghost DVD, screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin—who won an Oscar for his script—talks about how Zucker was at first against casting Swayze as Sam. “Jerry wanted to see him on film, so went out and saw the movie Roadhouse, and we walked out of that movie and Jerry said to me, ‘Over my dead body,’” recalls Rubin. Swayze really wanted the role, and because Zucker appreciated Swayze’s gusto, he let Swayze audition. After Swayze read the end of the script aloud, Zucker changed his mind. “We all had tears in our eyes, right there in the office—and we knew how it ends,” Zucker told People in 1990. “I saw a side of Patrick that I never knew existed.”
5. THE MOVIE BREATHED NEW LIFE INTO “UNCHAINED MELODY.”
The Righteous Brothers’s 1965 cover of “Unchained Melody” hit number four on the Billboard charts, but back in 1955 four other versions were also popular. After the Brothers’s 1965 version was used in the movie and featured on the soundtrack, it was re-released. The Brothers decided to re-record the song and then released it as a second single, with both songs concurrently selling well. It was the 1990 version, though, that hit number one on the Billboard U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, surpassing the feat of the 1965 cover. “So I didn’t know what it was going to do to the song, but, boy, when it came out in that movie, that song became a monster,” co-Righteous Brother Bill Medley told Songfacts. “I mean, a monster. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure." Medley’s hit song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” was featured in another Patrick Swayze movie: Dirty Dancing.
6. THE NOW-INFAMOUS POTTERY WHEEL SCENE HAS BEEN PARODIED MULTIPLE TIMES.
Sam and Molly’s sensual pottery making formed such an indelible impression that for over two decades a score of homages have been filmed. In 1991, Jerry Zucker’s brother David directed The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, which featured stars Priscilla Presley and Leslie Nielsen reenacting the scene in a comedic matter. A 2010 episode of Community contains a pottery class instructor who admonishes the class with, “I will tolerate no re-creating, whether it’s ironic or sincere, of the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore pottery scene in Ghost. I’ve had to adopt a zero Ghost tolerance policy. If you so much as hum three notes from that Righteous Brothers song, with god as my witness I will come at you with everything I’ve got.” And a 2014 episode of Two and a Half Men, starring Moore’s ex-husband Ashton Kutcher, shows him and Jon Cryer creating lovely pottery together.
7. THE FILM’S SUCCESS MADE ROMANTIC FILMS MORE VIABLE.
Summer tentpoles Die Hard 2 (starring Moore’s then-hubby Bruce Willis), Total Recall, and Dick Tracy failed to claim a slot in the top five year-end box office, but romantic comedy Pretty Woman did. Like Ghost, Pretty Woman was yet another female-loved film that made a lot of money ($178 million domestic). “The success of Ghost and Pretty Woman has revitalized the romantic comedy, a genre that in recent years had become less appealing to Hollywood studios intent on making blockbuster action-adventure films,” read a 1990 article in The New York Times. In Ghost’s wake, The Bodyguard, Jerry Maguire, and Titanic all became huge hits for the romantic drama genre.
8. IN 2010, JAPAN REMADE THE FILM.
Ghost grossed a healthy $48,449,689 in Japan, so it’s no surprise the Japanese decided to remake the movie, except with a woman being the ghost. The studio that released the original Ghost, Paramount, and a slew of other companies were involved in the film’s production and release. In Japan the film is called Ghost: Mouichido Dakishimetai, which in English roughly translates to “Ghost: In Your Arms Again.”
9. TONY GOLDWYN GOT THE ROLE OF CARL WITH HELP FROM HIS WIFE.
Before he was President Fitz on Scandal, Goldwyn was a struggling actor, and then a film director. When it came time to cast of the role of Sam’s friend and murderer, Carl, Goldwyn got a leg up not because of his pedigree (his grandfather was Samuel Goldwyn), but because of his wife. “I fought my way into an audition on Ghost,” Goldwyn told The AV Club. “My wife was the production designer on that movie. At that time, she was much more successful than me and was doing all these big movies, and she kept saying, ‘They haven’t cast that part! You should bug your agents!’ And I kept harassing my agent, who would never return my phone calls, and I managed to get an audition. And, by a fluke, they stumbled on my audition tape and said, ‘That guy was really good.’” Jerry Zucker told Entertainment Weekly in 1990 that he was skeptical of Tony. “We saw his tape and were immediately struck by how good he was, but I wasn’t sure he was right for the part. He seemed too nice.”
10. DEMI MOORE THOUGHT THE PLOT WAS “A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.”
At a 2013 AFI Night at the Movies screening of Ghost, Moore told the audience her initial feelings on the film. “It’s a love story, and it’s a guy—a dead guy—trying to save his wife, and there is a comedy part, but really, really it’s a love story,” Moore said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, this is really a recipe for disaster.’ It’s either going to be something really special, really amazing, or really an absolute bust.” She went on to talk about what made the film special. “I think the beauty in this film is that none of us knew, and the alchemy that came together with Whoopi and Patrick, and our film editor, Walter Murch, and Adam Greenberg, our DP, it just had a magic.”
11. JERRY ZUCKER SPRUCED THE SCRIPT UP AND GAVE IT SOME LEVITY.
Zucker established himself as a comedy writer-director with Airplane!, so he was an unusual choice to direct a drama. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bruce Joel Rubin was skeptical of Zucker directing his script. “I wanted Milos Forman or Stanley Kubrick [to direct the movie],” Rubin said. “When I was told that the guy who made Airplane! was going to direct Ghost, I cried.” Zucker and Rubin “went through 19 drafts of the screenplay together,” and Zucker gave the script more structure. “I felt it needed more twists and turns,” Zucker said. “It needed to keep moving. All those zany comedies have instilled a sense of pace in me. And, yes, I added more humor. Actually, a lot of the work I did was take things in Bruce’s head, which weren’t clear in the script, and help translate that into something a mainstream audience could grasp and digest.”
12. THE SOHO LOFT WHERE MOLLY AND SAM LIVED CAN BE YOURS FOR A COOL $10 MILLION.
Currently on the market is the spacious 4,341-square-foot loft at 102 Prince Street, where Sam and Molly got clay all over themselves, and where they said their final goodbyes. The loft was originally listed for $10.5 million but was recently lowered to a more budget-friendly $10 million. It has three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, and a Sub-Zero refrigerator! Relive the magic … if you can afford the 10 percent down payment, that is.
13. GHOST ALMOST GOT ADAPTED INTO A TV SHOW.
In 2013 it was reported that Paramount TV had tapped writer-producer Akiva Goldsman and showrunner Jeff Pinkner to write a pilot based on the movie. Since then, no info has been released as to whether the pilot actually came to fruition. Honestly, some things are best left in the grave.
14. PATRICK SWAYZE’S SPECTER INFLUENCED HIP-HOP MUSIC.
Because Patrick Swayze’s surname rhymes with “crazy,” there’s been an influx of rappers rhyming the two words together. Marley Marl’s “The Symphony Part II” features the line, “Reach for the pistol and you’re crazy / Try to blast and I’ll be spinnin’ that ass like Patrick Swayze.” Eventually the word “Swayze” became associated with his Ghost character and became slang for “gone” or “leaving”. On 2Pac’s “Runnin’ (Dying to Live)”, Notorious B.I.G. raps: “That’s why I bust back, it don’t faze me / When he drop, take his glock, and I’m Swayze,” and in 2005’s SNL Digital Short “Lazy Sunday,” Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell sing, “Throw the snacks into the bag and I’m a ghost like Swayze.”