A Brief History of ‘Beetlejuice 2’ Never Happening

It’s finally being made — unless it’s not
A Brief History of ‘Beetlejuice 2’ Never Happening

As you may have heard, Jenna Ortega is reportedly in talks to star in the new Beetlejuice sequel, playing the daughter of Winona Ryders character Lydia Deetz — which would be a smart move for the filmmakers, not just because she’s a talented actress, but because it would presumably attract an audience of young people who people aren’t in their 40s desperately trying to relive the year 1988. 

But while we’re all excited to see Michael Keaton reprise an iconic Tim Burton character for a project not involving Ezra Miller, we’ll believe this movie exists when we’re sitting in a multiplex watching it.

Beetlejuice follow-up has been in development for literal decades. The first project that came about following the box office success of the original — aside from the Saturday morning cartoon in which Lydia and Beetlejuice are inexplicably best buds — was a script called Beetlejuice in Love, penned by the late Warren Skaaren who co-wrote the original. The unused idea revolves around a pseudo-love triangle; a composer dies while proposing to his girlfriend and then meets Beetlejuice, who gets appropriately horned up at the sight of the girlfriend’s photo and attempts to escape the afterlife so he can introduce her to his sandworm.

Then there was the notorious unproduced sequel Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, which found the Deetz family journeying to Hawaii to open a resort designed by Otho, which happens to be built on an ancient burial ground. The spirits disturbed by the development enlist Beetlejuice to intervene — and while he’s in the Aloha state, the Ghost with the Most enters a surfing competition, attempts to marry Lydia yet again and impersonates a “wealthy oil tycoon” named “Monty Exxon.” 

If that wasn’t odd enough, at the end of the story, Beetlejuice becomes a wrathful “creature named Juicifer,” conjuring dinosaurs and turning people into “neanderthals,” one of whom attempts to sexually assault Lydia’s mom.

Jonathan Gems

The script went through several rewrites, at one point landing in the lap of writer/director/Nazi pork product performer Kevin Smith, who turned down the job, questioning: “Didn’t we say all we needed to say in the first Beetlejuice? Must we go tropical?”

Some have suggested that this wacky idea was Tim Burton’s way of sabotaging the sequel he didn’t really want to make. At the time, he told reporters, “Doing sequels doesn’t excite me.” The Hawaiian pitch eventually fell through, but in 2011, writers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith were reportedly taking a stab at the sequel, which was then rewritten by Kidding’s Mike Vukadinovich. Later, in 2015, Winona Ryder confirmed that the movie was happening while still seeming very confused about whether or not she should be confirming that the movie was happening.

But as recently as 2019, Burton said that he doubted that the movie would ever be made. Then we got the news that Brad Pitt’s production company was going to help push this cursed project past the finish line, with script duties falling to some of the Wednesday writers Jenna Ortega publicly dunked on. All in all, this movie’s production history has had more twists and turns than a sandworm’s digestive tract. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

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