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'Ghost': Why It's Still Scaring Up Repeat Business

November 18, 1990|Pat H. Broeske \f7

Paramount Pictures' "Ghost," which opened in early July, just won't vanish. Last weekend--its 18th--it even jumped 34% over the previous week, coming in third for the week with grosses of $4.3 million. Its take to date: more than $186 million, making it the year's top-grosser.

To investigate the "Ghost" phenomenon, Paramount has taken out classified ads in a handful of Los Angeles papers, including The Times, looking for fans who have seen the film six or more times. There have been hundreds of responses, says a studio spokesman, "and they're still coming in."

Many of those surveyed gushed about the love story. Some said they were "intrigued" by the theme. A number singled out Whoopi Goldberg's performance as the clairvoyant who reunites ghostly Patrick Swayze with earthly love Demi Moore.

Outtakes talked to a few of the "Ghost" fans directly:

Julie Richey--Burbank mother of two and an insurance property examiner--plans on seeing it today for the 18th time. "'It's really strange, isn't it? I think that before, the most I'd ever seen a film was five times--back when I was a teen-ager. I'm in my mid-30s now. Who'd have guessed this would happen? My husband says, 'Oh no, not again!' "

She says she loves the story--"the idea of what happens after death"--and the performances, especially Swayze's. "I think this is a case where everyone was well-cast. And the story, well, it makes you feel so good. One time when I saw it, a man sitting in front of me--a total stranger--turned around at the end and said, 'They should make more movies like this.' Of course, I agree."

Nelson Meza--a bank section manager from Los Angeles--has seen it eight times. "It's a great fantasy that seems totally real. That's what you go to see a movie for, isn't it? It reminds me of some of the films of the '30s. You leave it feeling great."

Susan Irvin--a nurse from Ontario--has racked up a dozen screenings. "I've had a lot of deaths in my family this past year--eight people who were close to me. Because of the way the movie presents death, it's been so comforting--it's actually helped me to deal with a lot of things.

"I love the love story, too. I love the idea that love enables people to go on--and that the people you knew and loved are still out there, somewhere . . . even helping you to go on." "

"Ghost" has even made its way into lectures. Marianne Williamson, who teaches what she calls "A Course in Miracles"--"spiritual psychotherapy"--through the L.A. Center for Living in California, says she sometimes mentions both "Ghost" and "Flatliners" because of the issues they raise regarding death.

She attributes "Ghost's"' popularity, in part, to her belief that it "validates the deeper convictions of the heart--that a relationship is more than two bodies coming together, it's the joining of two hearts."

Williamson, who counsels an HIV-positive AIDS support group, saw the film with her group--which gave it a thumbs-up. "Everybody loved it. Because it's about the triumph of love, beyond death, beyond the body. When you think about it, love is really what everyone wants."

Still on 1,713 screens, "Ghost" will stay in the marketplace, says Paramount, "as long as it continues to make money."

At present, the studio says there are no tangible plans for a "Ghost II."

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