One of Tim Burton‘s first major films that skyrocketed him to fame, Beetlejuice is still a classic to this day. But, despite the film having been out for over three decades, what many fans don’t realize is that the film they know and love today almost didn’t happen at all.
Beetlejuice is the story of the Maitlands, a newly deceased couple who are trying to deal with the new family — the Deetzes — that moved into their home. Beetlejuice is a bio-exorcist, a poltergeist claiming he can “exorcise the living,” and wants to use the Maitlands to try and to crawl his way out of the underworld by promising he can get rid of the Deetzes and get their home back.
But the original script and characterization of Beetlejuice were different at one point. The Beetlejuice known by fans is funny and conniving, if a little clueless, but in the original script, he was a much darker character — a winged demon bitter after centuries in the afterlife. The original story was also much more horrifying, with an attempted rape scene, murder attempts and Lydia dying in a fire in order to join the Maitlands. Thanks to several rewrites and the vision that Burton had for the film, the script was eventually changed to what it is today, creating an original, strange story that spoke to audiences in many different groups. And due to the success of the film, there’s been much talk over the past 30 years of a sequel.
One of the original sequel ideas was to be called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, which was set to follow the titular character and the Deetzes as they attempt to develop a Hawaiian vacation resort. The twist is that the resort was built on top of an ancient burial ground, inviting Beetlejuice to wreak havoc and chaos with the spirits. However, interest in the film didn’t take off quickly enough to follow the success of the original and the project was shelved.
At the time, Burton and most of the cast were on board to make a sequel. However, following the success of Beetlejuice, Burton and Keaton committed to Batman, with Warner Bros. already planning a follow-up for that franchise. By the time both films had been completed, too much time had passed to drum up interest in another Beetlejuice movie. Over the years, various people have hinted or “confirmed “ a sequel, including Winona Ryder, and multiple screenwriters have signed on, but nothing concrete has happened.
Beetlejuice is full of a type of humor that probably wouldn’t age well if it were to be remade today. The film is rife with perverted sexual jokes, an attempted marriage to a minor and just the right amount of twisted humor that drew in crowds in the late ’80s. As it stands, the inability to get a sequel made just proves that Beetlejuice is a product of its time. Although it had a decently successful cartoon show on ABC and Fox after the film’s initial release and a wildly successful run with a Broadway show, chances are it will remain the lighting in a bottle hit it was upon its release.
Beetlejuice originally had a different script and almost had a sequel, and you can blame Batman for getting in the way of it.