Beetlejuice 2 – what’s happening with the Michael Keaton movie?

It's been 34 years since we met the Ghost with the Most but he's still not got his sequel - here's the story of why Beetlejuice 2 didn't happen

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! We’ve been saying that name since the late ’80s, but despite our best efforts, we don’t feel any closer to the release of Beetlejuice 2. Oh, sure, there have been rumours and whispers over the years, but a sequel to the classic comedy movie feels like it is trapped in development hell.

Directed by Tim Burton, the first Beetlejuice film was part comedy, part ghost movie. The film sees the recently deceased Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) coming to terms with their death and hiring a maniacal bio-exorcist – the titular Beetlejuice (Keaton) – to get rid of the Deetz family, who moved into their old home.

Darker than a goth’s underpants and wildly entertaining, the movie was a huge success critically and commercially. A sequel, then, seemed inevitable, but 34 years on, the “Ghost with the Most” is still stuck in the afterlife’s waiting room where we left him. So what’s happening with Beetlejuice 2? Well, it’s a long story.

Why wasn’t there a Beetlejuice 2?

Following the success of Beetlejuice, Warner Bros actually got the ball rolling on a sequel. Burton was going to direct, and Jonathan Gems, the writer of Mars Attacks! was hired to write the script titled ‘Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian’.

The apocryphal story is that Burton originally pitched the title as a joke, presuming it was such a bad pitch that no one would take it seriously. To Burton’s horror, the studio executives liked it. Eventually, however, the notion of the monochrome menace in the bright sunny landscapes of Hawaii started to appeal to Burton as well.

Showtime! Best horror movies

According to Gems [via Fangoria], “Tim thought it would be funny to match the surfing backdrop of a beach movie with some sort of German Expressionism because they’re totally wrong together.”

The film would have seen the Deetz family move to Hawaii and again find themselves dealing with pesky spirits. Eventually, the family would be forced to summon Beetlejuice to deal with the ghosts, and he becomes a hero, even winning a surfing contest. It got to the point where Keaton and Winona Ryder agreed to return for the film, as long as Burton directed, but things soon fell apart.

Bump in the night: Best monster movies

The supposed reason is that Keaton and Burton got wrapped up in making their second Batman movie, but the elephant in the room was that Beetlejuice 2 felt like a retread of the first, so there was no real passion for making it. Indeed a cavalcade of different writers were brought in to punch up the script in the early ’90s, including Kevin Smith, who declined the opportunity, believing the first film said everything it needed to.

As time passed, there were talks of a revival, but nothing ever came of it. Still, Burton was keen to make it but kept the idea on the back burner while he worked on other projects. That is until 2022 came along.

YouTube Thumbnail

Is Beetlejuice 2 happening?

In 2022 it was reported that Warner Bros (although Warners has never confirmed those reports) was moving forward with Beetlejuice 2, and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B working on the film. Unfortunately, whatever form Beetlejuice 2 takes, it’s unlikely to be Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian.

Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice

Will Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder be in Beetlejuice 2?

Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder are reportedly attached to star in Beetlejuice 2. The pair have always maintained they’d return for the sequel as long as Burton returned as well.

Still, the film was supposed to start shooting in 2022, and there’s been no news for some time, so it might not be showtime just yet.