Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice hit theaters in 1988, but demand for a sequel remains surprisingly strong more than two decades later. The project began showing new signs of (after)life last year, with the announcement that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith is onboard to write up a script for Beetlejuice 2 with the intention to bring Michael Keaton back as the delightfully-demented freelance bio-exorcist.
Burton later made it known that he’s interested in helming the Beetlejuice sequel, so long as both he and Keaton approve of Smith’s draft. However, Winona Ryder – who reunited with the Gothic filmmaker for his Frankenweenie feature – says that she plans to find out for herself whether there’s more to this project than just rumor and talk.
Ryder, who turns 41 next month (anyone feeling old?), has reason to be skeptical about the prospect of a followup to Burton’s horror-comedy classic. A sequel titled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian was written up back in the early 1990s, but it never came to fruition. Moreover, the under-performance of Burton’s Dark Shadows as well as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – both of which were written by Smith – suggests Warner Bros. may now be more wary of greenlighting Smith’s Beetlejuice 2 script.
MTV caught up with Ryder at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she’s promoting her new film The Iceman costarring Michael Shannon and Chris Evans (watch the trailer). When the site asked her about possibly being involved with Beetlejuice 2, the actress good-heartedly replied “You tell me — I don’t know!” However, she thereafter revealed that she will be seeing Burton next week and intends to learn more:
“I’ve heard from journalists, that’s how I found out, but I’m seeing Tim next week, and I will let you know… It’s being written, but is it happening? Tim hasn’t confirmed it yet [officially].”
Smith has confirmed that his Beetlejuice 2 script is a “true continuation” of the first film that picks up some 26 years after the fact – like the Farrelly Brothers’ developing Dumb and Dumber 2 - and thus, it is feasible that Ryder could return as an older version of (former?) goth gal Lydia Deetz. When MTV last spoke with Smith on the subject, he offered a rough outline of his progress on the project:
“I am hopefully going to write it this year. I’ve gone and met with Tim Burton about it, I’ve gone and met with Michael Keaton about it. In theory everybody would be open to it if the script is good, so now it’s just my job to make sure the script is good.”
Long-gestating sequels like Beetlejuice 2 tend to inspire much more caution than optimism; it does not help that Smith is coming off a pair of films that have left many questioning his screenwriting abilities. On the other hand, the Beetlejuice sequel is more of the simple, yet idiosyncratic, mix of camp horror and comedy that should play to Smith’s strengths as a storyteller.
Not to mention, the potential for a reunion of former Burton “muses” Keaton and Ryder makes Beetlejuice 2 sound all the more appealing to us. Maybe bringing the old band together, so to speak, would help Burton get his groove back, when it comes to live-action filmmaking, in the aftermath of a lackluster reception for Dark Shadows.
More on Beetlejuice 2 as the story develops.