'Beetlejuice's Bonkers Sequel May Actually Get Made
Beetlejuice is being summoned back into pop culture relevancy courtesy of Brad Pitt's production company Plan B, with no official word yet on who exactly will direct, act, or watch this movie. Those are important questions, sure, but an even more pressing mystery here is: will Beetlejuice go Hawaiian? Not as in "Will they add pineapple on him?" but as in "Will they finally produce Tim Burton's bonkers Hawaii-centric idea for a sequel to the original Beetlejuice?"
The first attempt to create a Beetlejuice sequel actually sounded quite promising: Beetlejuice in Love was written by Warren Skaaren, who helped out on the script of the first movie, and focused on the title character stuck in "a mandatory team-building retreat that never ends" version of purgatory where souls are "forced to sing in charity-single supergroups and attend anger-management classes." Skaaren dug deep into the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung to flesh out the protagonist's psychological profile. Unfortunately, Skaaren was diagnosed with cancer shortly after completing the first draft and the project died with him. And that's when things got goofy and unexpectedly tropical, because the studio just wouldn't give up on the idea of more Beetlejuice.
As we've discussed, Burton came up with the idea for Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian because he didn't really feel like doing a sequel at that point but Warner Bros. wouldn't get off his back about it. So, he took surfing and German expressionism, two ideas that are "totally wrong together," and commissioned a script based on that. The story would have showed Beetlejuice winning a surf contest, the Deetz family from the first movie opening a resort over ancient burial grounds in Hawaii, and daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder's character) using her psychic powers to level the island with a tidal wave. Also, at one point, her ghost buddy puts a spell on her and she agrees to marry him, thus finally validating all those disturbing fan videos that put romantic music over images of Lydia and Beetlejuice.
Apparently, the "totally wrong" idea grew on Burton over time and he was actually enthusiastic about it. Ryder and Michael Keaton agreed to do film, but then the project was paused when Burton and Keaton got sidetracked with a little thing called Batman Returns (they could have at least thrown Winona a bone and cast her as Catwoman or Robin). In the meantime, the script was passed around like a hot potato by several writers, and by 1997, the production company admitted the project was dead and stated that, "You really couldn't do it now anyway. Winona is too old for the role" (at the unsightly age of 26).
While no actors have been officially announced for the current sequel project, insiders claim Keaton and Ryder are up for it, which would make sense since both have expressed enthusiasm for a Beetlejuice sequel in the past decade, as long as the script isn't a turd. And hey, if it Keaton is too busy playing his other spooky '80s character again, maybe producer Brad Pitt can step in to save the project -- he does have experience playing creepy ghosts.
Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures