When word popped up in 2011 that Beetlejuice 2 was once again being actively developed, there was one question on pretty much everybody’s mind: Will actor Michael Keaton and director Tim Burton be willing (or even remotely interested) in returning for the supernatural comedy sequel?
Screenwriters David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have announced their intention to get Keaton to reprise his role as the eponymous ghoul, especially since the new Beetlejuice flick will be a semi-sequel (and not a reboot). However, it’s not really been clear what role Burton is playing in the film’s development.
The Gothic director has been impressively busy as of late, producing this summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and directing two films for release in 2012: the Dark Shadows movie and a stop-motion adaptation of his 1984 short, Frankenweenie. In a recent interview with MTV, Burton admitted that his next directorial project is not yet set – as a quick look around the Interwebz and tallying of all the movies to which Burton is said to be “loosely attached” will tell you.
However, on the topic of him possibly directing (or, rather, “doing”) a new Beetlejuice movie, Burton told the site:
“Yes. I love that character, and Michael [Keaton] is so great in it. I always think about how great and fun that character was, so I just said to ['Dark Shadows' writer] Seth [Grahame-Smith], ‘If you have some idea about it, go for it, and then I’ll look at it freshly.’ In the past, I tried some things, but that was way back when. He seemed really excited about it… Michael was so great in it. I’m sure he’d strangely tap right back into [the role].”
That past attempt to bring Beetlejuice back to the big screen that Burton is referencing is the semi-infamous Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian that was being planned in the early 1990s, with Jonathan Gems (Mars Attack!) penning the script; for better or for worse, that project never materialized. The only major Beetlejuice spinoff that has been produced to date is the Burton-created animated series, which ran from 1989-91.
Odd though it may seem, Beetlejuice 2 would be (somewhat) unusual territory for Burton, seeing how Batman Returns is the only sequel he’s directed. Burton’s visual style remains as darkly demented and strange as ever, so the Beetlejuice sequel would benefit from having him onboard as director, in that regard. Plus, the man’s storytelling abilities are usually at their strongest when he’s not just “re-imagining” a famous tale that’s been told before.
That is to say: so long as Katzenberg and Smith can concoct an ingenious narrative for Beetlejuice 2 that’s good enough to convince both Keaton and Burton to officially commit to the project, this film has the potential to turn out pretty well. As always, we shall just have to wait and see what happens next…