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Every Attempt At A 'Beetlejuice' Sequel Just Dug It Deeper Into Development Hell

Updated February 23, 2021 1.1k views12 items

Back in March 1988, Tim Burton introduced the world to Beetlejuice - or perhaps "Betelgeuse," as it's spelled on his headstone. The poltergeist, played by Michael Keaton, quickly became one of Tim Burton's most beloved characters. In fact, Beetlejuice received so much positive attention when it first came out that executives were eager to create a money-making sequel - but it never happened. 

Like Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin), the Beetlejuice sequel was stuck in limbo for decades. Numerous writers hopped on and off the project, and key cast members, like Winona Ryder, who played Lydia, continually expressed their interest in returning to their roles. The Beetlejuice sequel took multiple twists and turns, including an absurd take called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian

  • 'Beetlejuice In Love' Would Have Scrapped The Deetzes In Favor Of A Gothic Love Triangle

    Beetlejuice was commercially and critically successful when it was released in March 1988, and executives over at Geffen Company were eager to bank off the popularity of Tim Burton's instant classic.

    The company commissioned two potential Beetlejuice sequel screenplays, one written by Mars Attacks! screenwriter Jonathan Gems, and the other by Warren Skaaren, the script doctor of the original film. Skaaren opted to introduce Beetlejuice to a new couple instead of having him hang with the Deetzes in a sequel.

    In Skaaren's script, Beetlejuice meets Leo, a man who tragically plummets to his doom while proposing to his girlfriend, Julia, on the Eiffel Tower. When Leo enters the afterlife, Beetlejuice is able to escape back to the world of the living, where he pursues Julia. 

    The script is available in its entirety at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

  • 'In Love' Writer Warren Skaaren Passed Before Any Movement On The Script Could Be Made

    By July 1990, Warren Skaaren had completed a draft of Beetlejuice in Love. A week after he submitted his draft, Skaaren went to the doctor after experiencing back pain. The writer had a scare with cancer in 1987 and unfortunately, it had come back.

    What started as a malignant mole three years prior metastasized into bone cancer. Skaaren repeatedly pushed back meetings for Beetlejuice in Love as he pursued both traditional and alternative treatments for his condition.

    Sadly, the writer passed on December 28, 1990 - mere months after finishing his first draft. After his untimely passing, movement on the script stopped.

  • 'Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian' Would Have Seen The Deetzes Disturbing Ancient Tropical Spirits

    In 1990, screenwriter Jonathan Gems gave his take on a proposed Beetlejuice sequel, titled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. According to Wicked Horror, the film was supposed to see the Deetzes on their next remodeling project in Hawaii.

    In this version of the sequel, the Deetzes have decided to build a resort, but they don't realize they are building on top of an ancient burial ground. Unsure of how to handle the upset ghosts and ghouls they have disturbed, the family calls on Beetlejuice to save the day. 

    Burton was allegedly really into the idea, as he was excited to juxtapose his signature gothic expressionist stories with the vibrancy of a Hawaiian paradise. "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," Gems told Fangoria in 1997.

  • Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Production On 'Hawaiian' Was Halted So Burton And Keaton Could Make 'Batman Returns'

    As writer Jonathan Gems attempted to move Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian forward with Warner Bros., the production company decided to concentrate their efforts elsewhere. 

    Warner Bros. was more eager to develop the next installment in their Batman series, which Burton also helmed, and offered the director "complete artistic control" on the picture. According to Gems, the offer was just too good for Burton to pass up.

    Development on Hawaiian paused as Burton went to work on Batman Returns.