After decades of fits and starts, “Beetlejuice” is back. On Tuesday, Warner Bros. announced a long-discussed sequel to Tim Burton’s 1988 horror-comedy favorite will debut in theaters on September 6, 2024.
Most of the key original players will return for the sequel, including Burton and stars Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder. “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega is in the cast as well, reportedly playing the grown daughter of Ryder’s character, Lydia Deetz, from the original. This would mark the second collaboration between Burton and Ortega after the blockbuster Netflix hit “Wednesday.” In interviews, Ortega has talked about how fastidious Burton was as a filmmaker on the set of “Wednesday” and said he was “a really great communicator and collaborator.”
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“Beetlejuice 2” has been discussed for literally decades. Back in 1990, Burton hired screenwriter Jonathan Gems to work on a “Beetlejuice” sequel with the idea that it might be set in Hawaii. In the years that followed, “Heathers” writer Daniel Waters and “Troop Beverly Hills” writer Pamela Norris also reportedly took a crack at the film. After that iteration flamed out in the late 1990s, “Beetlejuice 2” was dormant until 2011 when Seth Grahame-Smith signed a deal with Warner Bros. that prioritized the potential film.
In 2013, Ryder expressed hope that the film would come together. “I’m kind of sworn to secrecy,” the actress told The Daily Beast. “But it sounds like it might be happening.”
Of the project, she added at the time, “It’s not a remake. It’s 27 years later. And I have to say, I love Lydia so much. She was such a huge part of me. I would be really interested in what she is doing 27 years later.”
Two years later, Grahame-Smith provided another update.
“I think we landed on the right idea, landed on the right approach. It’s just now making sure that—for me—I don’t want to shit my pants in front of the entire world making a sequel to one of my favorite movies,” Grahame-Smith told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. At the time, Grahame-Smith had completed “a few drafts of the script” and said most of the original cast were interested, including Keaton and Ryder.
“I’ve emailed with Michael Keaton. I know he’s excited about the idea. I know Tim 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,” Grahame-Smith said.
By 2017, however, another writer was brought aboard to write the sequel with Grahame-Smith among the producers. That didn’t pan out either. In 2019, Burton said he wasn’t confident the sequel would happen. A rep for Warner Bros. told USA Today at the time that “Beetlejuice 2” wasn’t in “active development.”
But in keeping with its “ghost with the most” attitude, the film refused to stay dead, and “Beetlejuice” was revived again when Ortega’s involvement was announced in March of this year. Whether this iteration sticks – and when it would go into production – is unclear. Of note is that “Beetlejuice 2” is currently scheduled to open opposite Marvel’s “Blade” on September 6, 2024. But that film, which has Mahershala Ali in a starring role, had to shut down production last week due to the writers’ strike.
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