Beetlejuice screenwriter Larry Wilson has revealed the original ending to the film - which was way bleaker. Beetlejuice was only the second movie from Tim Burton and marked him as one of the most unique and visually inventive filmmakers of his generation. The movie's mix of horror and dark comedy made it a surprise success, and led to Burton and leading man Michael Keaton being offered Batman.
Beetlejuice remains a cult classic and celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018. While the success of the movie spawned a long-running cartoon series, a sequel never arrived. Burton was never particularly interested in making one, but the studio spent years working a script called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, where the "Ghost With The Most" follows the Deetz family to Hawaii when they move. The project spent several years in development hell, by which point most of the key players had lost interest. On the upside for fans of the character, it was recently announced the film was being adapted into a stage musical.
Beetlejuice famously ends on a cheerful music number after titular ghost is defeated, but that wasn't the original plan. Co-writer Larry Wilson explains in a new interview with Yahoo! that the movie almost ended on a more tragic note - with the death of Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder):
Our first ending was Lydia — she died in a fire and was able to join Barbara and Adam in the afterlife. A couple of people said to us, ‘Do you really think that’s a good idea? Is that really the message you want to be sending to the teenagers of the world? Die in a fire?’ So, yeah, it probably was darker.
While Beetlejuice has its share of dark moments it's still a comedy at heart, so ending the movie with Lydia's death would have been an unnecessary downer. Wilson also admits that having an ending where a suicidal teenager dies and is much happier in the afterlife probably wasn't the best note to end the movie on either.
While Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian didn't ultimately happen, there was revived talk of a sequel in recent years. Keaton, Burton and Ryder have all expressed an interest in returning for Beetlejuice 2 with the right script, and writer Mike Vukadinovich was hired last year to rewrite a script by Seth Grahame-Smith. That said, the sequel always seems to be trapped in a state of limbo, and there remains a good chance it won't happen.
Beetlejuice is a one of a kind movie and crafting a follow-up that lives up to it is going to be extremely difficult - so it might be best to leave the movie as a one-off.