Seth Grahame-Smith made the jump to feature-length screenwriting in 2012, with the films Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Both of those movies managed to become moderate commercial successes (thanks to the international box office), but did lackluster business in terms of U.S. ticket sales – and left critics, by and large, under-whelmed on the whole. Which is not to say Smith’s career is in trouble for it.
On the contrary, Smith has a finger in multiple pies; he’s working on the Beetlejuice 2 screenplay, writing the LEGO Batman movie, producing the two-film adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and preparing to make his directorial debut on a new cinematic adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Suffice it to say, he’s keeping more than a little busy for the time being.
The Beetlejuice sequel – which Tim Burton (director of the original 1988 supernatural comedy) has indicated will be less a “sequel” and more just another movie that features Michael Keaton playing The Ghost with the Most – is one that we’ve been hearing about of late, what with Keaton being in the spotlight for his role in the multi-Oscar nominated Birdman and Burton having just released the Golden Globe-winning film Big Eyes.
Burton will begin production on the novel adaptation Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children later this year, with Eva Green (whom Burton collaborated with on Dark Shadows) and Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) starring. However, once post-production is done on that film, Smith believes there’s a very real chance Burton will turn to work on Beetlejuice 2, maybe even as soon as late 2015.
As Grahame told EW:
“I’ve emailed with Michael Keaton. I know he’s excited about the idea. I know Tim [Burton] is excited about the idea. Where it stands now is Tim’s got to get ready to make [Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children], and then hopefully we are set, deals are done, and we’re waiting in the wings ready to go right after Peregrine’s wraps up. The ideal timeline is we’re really getting into it toward the end of this year.”
Smith admitted that Burton “tipped people off” about Winona Ryder being in line to appear in Beetlejuice 2; meaning, among other things, the film is going to be set in the present-day (where we’ll catch up with Ryder’s character, Lydia). The screenwriter also informed EW that all the main players for Beetlejuice 2 are all interested, now that he’s finished a few script drafts for the followup.
The timing for this update might seem a bit ominous, arriving the same week as our feature about great movies that didn’t need a sequel… But, that said, if Smith can get that script right – what with Keaton being as hot as ever and now Big Eyes having served as a palate cleanser for Burton – then maybe, just maybe, it’s the right time for Beetlejuice 2 at last. (It sounds like a better idea now than even a year ago.)
Not all of Smith’s projects announced sometime over the past few years are still happening, though; his Unholy Night adaptation (based on his own book) and Night of the Living script (intended for a Burton stop-motion film) are on indefinite hold, he informed EW. Another major project that’s on hold is the Gremlins reboot, which Smith was onboard to produce.
“I think we just ran out of steam. It’s one of those things where everybody got busy doing other things. It’s something I would love to come back to, but right now [Steven Spielberg’s] making two movies back to back and Chris Columbus is busy. We’re all taking a five-minute break on that.”
It was reported last year that Warner Bros. was fast-tracking both a Gremlins reboot and a sequel to The Goonies, but seeing as another Gremlins movie isn’t happening for now (and the latter doesn’t have a writer yet), it’s safe to say that original report was a bit exaggerated.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of Beetlejuice 2 as more information becomes available.