Ivan Reitman, an influential film director and producer of many of the most beloved comedies of the late 20th century, from “Animal House” to “Ghostbusters” has died. He was 75 years old.
Reitman died peacefully in a dream Saturday night at his home in Montesita, California, his family told the Associated Press.
“Our family mourns the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always look for magic in life,” said children Jason Reitman, Catherine Reitman and Caroline Reitman in a joint statement. “We are comforted that his work as a director has brought laughter and happiness to countless other people around the world. While we mourn privately, we hope that those who knew him from his films will always remember him. ”
Known for obscene comedies that captured the spirit of his time, Reitman was a great success with the hoarse, student fraternity “Animal House of National Fever,” which he produced. He shot Bill Murray in his first starring role in the summer camp film “Meatballs” and then again in the 1981 film “Stripes”, but his most significant success was his 1984 “Ghostbusters”.
The disrespectful supernatural comedy with Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Maranis not only grossed nearly $ 300 million worldwide, but also won two Oscar nominations, spawned a real franchise, including spin-offs. show and new movie. , “Ghostbusters: The Underworld,” which opened last year. Directed by his son, director Jason Reitman.
Paul Feig, who directed the reboot of Ghostbusters in 2016, tweeted.
“I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan, and it has always been such a learning experience,” Feig wrote. “He staged some of my favorite comedies of all time. We all owe him so much in comedy. “
“Legend,” comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani said on Twitter. “The number of wonderful films he has made is absurd.”
Other well-known films he made included “Twins”, “Kindergarten Cop”, “Dave”, “Junior” and “Six Days, Seven Nights” in 1998. He has also produced the films “Beethoven”, “Old School” and “European Trip” and many others, including his son’s film “In the Air”, nominated for an Oscar.
He was born in Komarno, Czechoslovakia, in 1946, where his father owned the country’s largest vinegar factory. His mother survived Auschwitz, and his father was in resistance. When the communists imprisoned the capitalists after the war, the Reitmans decided to run away when Ivan Reitman was only 4 years old. They were riding in the nailed hold of a barge bound for Vienna.
“I remember the flashbacks,” Reitman told the AP in 1979. – Later they told me about how they gave me a couple of sleeping pills to keep me quiet. I was so overwhelmed that I slept with my eyes open. My parents were afraid I was dead. “
The Reitmans joined a relative in Toronto, where Ivan showed his penchant for show business: he set up a puppet show, entertained in summer camps, played in cafes with a folk music band. He studied music and drama at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and began making short films.
Along with friends and $ 12,000, Reitman made the nine-day film “Cannibal Girls,” which American International agreed to release. With a budget of $ 500, he released the weekly TV show “Grad” with Dan Ackroyd and became associated with the Lampoon group in its off-Broadway show featuring John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Murray. This soon led to the “House of Animals”.
Reitman took advantage of the moment after the huge success of “Animal House” and raised money for the director of “Miftelli”, which would be more restrained than “Animal House” with a tough release.
He chose Murray for the lead role, which turned out to be a significant break for the comedian, but Ramis later said Reitman didn’t know if Murray would actually appear until the first day of filming. But it was the beginning of a fruitful and long-lasting partnership that led to the creation of the military comedy “Stripes”, which Reitman came up with on the way to the premiere of “Meatballs”, and “Ghostbusters”.
Reitman also staged Schwarzenegger in his first major comedy alongside Danny DeWitt in “The Twins.” There was so much uncertainty surrounding the project that everyone lost their share of the profits, which turned out to be a lucrative deal when the film grossed $ 216 million with a production budget of $ 18 million. In September 2021, it was announced that “Triplets” would continue, where Reitman would direct his original cast, as well as Tracy Morgan as their long-lost brother.
By the time “Kindergarten Cop” appeared in the 1990s, Reitman had established himself as the most successful comedy director in history. Although not even the father of three children, he could have prepared him for the hard work of directing 30 children aged 4 to 7 in Schwarzenegger’s comedy.
The political comedy “Dave” with Kevin Klein as an ordinary man who has to double for the presidency of the United States, was for Reitman a little the opposite. Roger Ebert wrote at the time that “film is another proof that it’s not what you do, but how you do it: directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Gary Ross use intelligence and emotional feelings to make with Dave a wonderful carefree pastime ”.
Reitman slowed down as a director after “Six Days, Seven Nights”, a 1998 adventure comedy with Harrison Ford and Anne Hatch – only four films will be after “Evolution”, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”, “No Thongs” and “Call Day”. , since 2014.
But he continued to produce. His company, Montecito Picture Co., made Todd Phillips’ first film, Journey. And in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” even appeared in a press release with his son, providing emotional moments for both with the passing of the baton. Jason Reitman, who was just 7 years old when the original came out, included a few nods to his father’s films such as “Beethoven” and “Cannibal Girls” in “The Afterlife”.
“Directing the Ghostbusters has been terrifying,” said Jason Reitman last year. “I was lucky enough to do it sitting next to my father.”
Asked why the 1984 film continued to fascinate, Reitman told the AP it was difficult to determine.
“I’ve always had some kind of sincere approach to comedy,” he said. “I took it seriously, even though it was a horror film and a comedy, I felt you had to deal with it in some realistic and honest way.”
He was always serious about comedy and the power of laughter.
“A great cliché about how damn hard a comedy is. But, of course, no one really respects that, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2000. So getting to the point where you can make a laughing audience of 600 people is a really accurate and challenging job. … I feel like we’re laughing at the same things we’ve always laughed at, but the language of the director and the performer is changing. ”
AP Entertainment reporter Andrew Dalton made his contribution from Los Angeles. John Carucci contributed from New York.