The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

A Beetlejuice sequel has remained elusive, defying the efforts to bring back Michael Keaton's iconic character Discover the rollercoaster journey of Tim Burton's attempts, the setbacks faced, and the current status of 'Beetlejuice 2'

The Big Picture

Despite numerous attempts over the years, a sequel to Tim Burton's Beetlejuice has yet to be made due to various obstacles and conflicting projects.

Warner Bros. presented Kevin Smith with the opportunity to rework the sequel in the late 1990s, however, it failed to progress due to conflicting schedules and individual artistic preferences.

Following years of ambiguity, a Beetlejuice sequel finally gained traction in 2023. Tim Burton reentered the project, and despite hurdles such as the Screen Actor's Guild strike, production commenced.

In 1988, an intriguing undead character made his way to the big screen, captivating the imaginations of movie enthusiasts. This remarkable figure was none other than Betelgeuse (portrayed by Michael Keaton), the eponymous protagonist in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice. Serving as a precursor to Burton and Keaton's subsequent collaborations for the initial two Batman films, Beetlejuice reaffirmed Burton's fascination with peculiar oddballs and twisted, dark humor. It turned out that he was not the only one drawn to these elements, as Beetlejuice went on to become a highly successful film for Warner Bros., raking in significant box office profits. Such triumphs prompted Warner Bros. to diligently pursue a sequel ever since the release of the original movie. Despite numerous endeavors, a sequel has yet to materialize, yet this has not deterred the studio from persisting in its efforts.

When Did Tim Burton Start Working on the 'Beetlejuice' Sequel?

The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

Image via Warner Bros.

The journey of the Beetlejuice sequel dates back to 1990 when Tim Burton commissioned a script for a follow-up film called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. This attention-grabbing title, admittedly appearing like a playful nickname for a potential Beetlejuice continuation, was there from the very beginning. Jonathan Gems was assigned the task of crafting a sequel for this project, and from there, progress was made, eventually securing the involvement of Keaton and his co-star Winona Ryder. However, Burton's hectic schedule posed a major obstacle in getting this project started. The director was exceptionally sought after at that time, deeply immersed in the production of another Warner Bros. sequel, Batman Returns. Beetlejuice's comeback would have to wait for another opportunity.

However, akin to the mischievous character played by Michael Keaton, this Beetlejuice sequel had a persistent refusal to be extinguished. In the late 1990s, Warner Bros. extended an offer to Kevin Smith, the filmmaker renowned for his work on Clerks, to undertake a rewrite of this specific film. Nevertheless, Smith's disinterest in the prospect of a Beetlejuice sequel, particularly one that centered around a shift in location to Hawaii ("must we go tropical?"), became evident in his comments during An Evening With Kevin Smith. Once again, conflicting schedules prevented progress on this version of the sequel, as both Burton and Smith swiftly redirected their attention to Warner Bros.' project, Superman Lives.

At this juncture, a pivotal recurring hurdle for a potential Beetlejuice sequel in the 1990s became apparent. Warner Bros. was undeniably enticed by the idea of capitalizing on the Beetlejuice brand name, and Burton undeniably harbored a deep enthusiasm for revisiting this cinematic universe. However, the project consistently found itself overshadowed by others that possessed greater marketing potential for Warner Bros. or to which Burton was more resolutely dedicated. Thus, the prospects of a Beetlejuice sequel remained perpetually in limbo – significant enough to secure a new screenwriter for a fresh draft, yet never significant enough to garner approval for production.

Why Did the 'Beetlejuice' Sequel Die?

The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

By the end of the 1990s, updates for a potential Beetlejuice 2 had ceased to emerge. Despite all the excitement and various scripts in circulation, there was no progress. News about the project gradually disappeared, and ultimately, it fizzled out. Everyone involved shifted their focus to other projects as the once-harmonious relationship between Tim Burton and Warner Bros. became strained. The studio had experienced a setback with Mars Attacks!, which failed to perform at the box office in the final weeks of 1996, while Superman Lives faced difficulties in getting off the ground. As a result, Burton's subsequent films like Sleepy Hollow or Big Fish were produced by studios other than Warner Bros., the previous home of Beetlejuice. Burton's creative direction had shifted, putting Beetlejuice 2 on hold for the time being.

When Did the 'Beetlejuice' Sequel Get Revived?

The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

With time, the world managed quite well without a sequel to Beetlejuice. However, in 2011, there was a buzz on the Warner Bros. lot. A new lease of life was being given to the Beetlejuice follow-up. Seth Grahame-Smith, the writer of the 2012 Tim Burton film Dark Shadows, was now crafting a fresh script for a Beetlejuice sequel. Recent box office performances of Burton's movies undoubtedly influenced the fate of Beetlejuice 2, but this time the impact was positive. Just a year earlier, Burton's Alice in Wonderland had become a phenomenal success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide. Additionally, the wave of 1980s nostalgia was sweeping through popular culture. Suddenly, Warner Bros. executives found the idea of creating a sequel to a cherished Tim Burton film from the 1980s incredibly appealing.

The following year, Grahame-Smith revealed that he had extensive discussions with Keaton regarding the character of Beetlejuice. Keaton expressed great enthusiasm about reprising the role, and the idea of having the ageless Beetlejuice interact with a ever-changing world was seen as a comedic opportunity. Progress was made towards the potential Beetlejuice sequel, but it wasn't until January 2015 that Grahame-Smith confirmed shooting would begin soon. The hope was for Beetlejuice 2 to be the next Tim Burton movie after he completed his obligations with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The timing was ideal as Keaton was experiencing a career resurgence after his role in Birdman. It was seen as a fitting way to celebrate his return to the A-list. Despite Ryder's confirmation in August 2015 that she would be involved in the sequel, shooting did not commence immediately after Peregrine's completion. Ryder herself was experiencing a career resurgence in July 2016 with the release of Stranger Things.

Once again, this follow-up was stalled in development hell. The issue at hand revolves around the challenge of coordinating the busy schedules of Keaton and Ryder, both deeply immersed in their career resurgences (those lengthy shooting seasons of Stranger Things cannot be condensed into just a handful of weekends!) It was absolutely crucial for Burton, Keaton, and Ryder to reunite in order to elicit audience interest in another Beetlejuice installment. Bearing this in mind, the long-awaited Beetlejuice sequel remained dormant, patiently awaiting the perfect alignment of stars and the availability of the trio.

What Is Happening With 'Beetlejuice 2' Now?

The Eternal Resurrection: Unveiling the Unstoppable Beetlejuice 2

By May 2016, Tim Burton admitted he still had the itch to bring the movie to life. However, he was patiently waiting for a captivating story to arise, one that truly demanded a sequel. Burton's career trajectory externally might have been a factor in the studio's enthusiasm for a Beetlejuice sequel. Both Dark Shadows and Big Eyes had failed commercially, placing Burton in a box-office slump. Although he was not toxic to audiences (as evident from his directorial role in Disney's Dumbo remake shortly after), he was no longer a guaranteed hit-maker. Consequently, Warner Bros. might not have been eager to kickstart Beetlejuice 2 at that point. When Burton promoted Dumbo (with Keaton as part of the cast) in March 2019, his outlook on Beetlejuice 2 was bleak. He expressed doubts about its potential occurrence and urged reporters to move on to other topics. After nearly a decade of struggling to move the project forward, it seemed that Beetlejuice 2 was officially dead. However, that mischievous Beetlejuice never stays down for long. Three years after Burton's discouraging comments, Plan B, a production company co-founded by Brad Pitt, stepped in to provide financing for Beetlejuice 2.

Initially, it appeared that making Beetlejuice 2 would meet the same fate as previous attempts, amounting to nothing. However, a surprising turn of events occurred. This particular endeavor gained traction, perhaps because Tim Burton regained popularity within popular culture through his work on the successful Netflix series, Wednesday. Jenna Ortega, the leading actress of said program, was cast in the sequel, and production for Beetlejuice 2 commenced in early summer of 2023. Despite the hurdles faced, including a strike by the Screen Actor's Guild that abruptly halted filming just two days before completion, this sequel persevered. After enduring a tumultuous journey, it seems that, against all odds, a second Beetlejuice movie is now on the horizon. Hopefully, they will make sure to avoid any unfortunate incidents in Hawaii this time around.

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