The Beetlejuice 2 Original Story Is Way Crazier Than You Can Imagine

By Zack Zagranis | Published

Tim Burton stans are impatiently counting down the days until next year’s Beetlejuice 2 arrives in theaters. The sequel has been a long time coming, and fans can’t wait to see newcomers Jenna Ortega and Willem Defoe join returning favorites Michael Keaton and Winona Rider for another afterlife adventure. What many fans might not know, however, is that Beetlejuice 2 almost happened 33 years ago and it would have seen The Ghost With the Most trading in his sandworms for a surfboard and a pair of shades.

Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian


In 1990 following the success of Batman, Tim Burton commissioned screenwriter Johnathan Gems to pen a Beetlejuice sequel called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. If the idea of a tropical beach setting seems to go against the famously macabre director’s usual aesthetic that was on purpose. “Tim thought it would be funny to match the surfing backdrop of a beach movie with some sort of German Expressionism because they’re totally wrong together,” Gems said in a 1997 interview with horror magazine Fangoria.

The Deetz’s Move To Hawaii

The idea apparently was for Beetlejuice 2 to contrast the light and breezy feeling of something like Beach Blanket Bingo with the visually unsettling and still creepy after 100 years, horror classic Nosferatu. The story would have followed the Deetz family as they move to Hawaii so Charles can develop a new resort. When it’s revealed that the resort is being built on an ancient Hawaiian burial ground, the previously antagonistic Beetlejuice gets brought in to fix things.

Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian would have culminated with Beetlejuice winning a surf contest against the ghost of an angry Kahuna thus saving the day. While the movie’s plot can charitably be referred to as “interesting,” both Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder were 100 percent on board for the sequel. The ’90s Beetlejuice 2 might have made the weird choice to set things on an island paradise, but at least it would have brought the previous films’s biggest stars with it.

Beetlejuice No Longer A Villain

Changing the original’s gloomy setting wasn’t the only major shakeup Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian had in store for the Beetlejuice universe. The odd choice to make Beetlejuice a good guy would have been a sharp departure from the original film where the character is unmistakably evil. Though we don’t know for sure, it’s possible that the decision to change the main character’s alignment for Beetlejuice 2 may have been a response to the Beetlejuice cartoon series where the undead troublemaker is cast in a much softer light.

This would have been in line with some of the other major sequels of the era such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze, and Ghostbusters 2. Both sequels made changes to their movie universes based on the success of their respective cartoons. For Turtles 2 it was the removal of any scenes where the Ninjas use their weapons offensively. Meanwhile, Ghostbusters 2 brought back Slimer, who had become a fan favorite part of the animated series.

Why The Movie Fell Apart

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The original Beetlejuice 2‘s first stumbling block came in the form of Batman Returns. The follow-up to 1989’s megablockbuster Batman took precedence over a sequel to the much less successful—though still profitable—Beetlejuice. With Tim Burton and Michael Keaton busy with the Batman sequel Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian was put on the back burner.

Burton was still interested in making a Beetlejuice 2, however. In 1991 the director tapped Heathers writer Daniel Waters to rewrite the Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian script. Unfortunately, Waters would also find himself drafted into the Batman Returns army leaving his version of Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian unfinished. Instead, David Geffen whose The Geffen Company owned the script for Beetlejuice 2 hired Pamela Norris a former SNL writer to take a pass at the sequel in 1993.

Kevin Smith Turns Down Beetlejuice 2

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Three years later when Pamela Norris’s take on Beetlejuice 2 failed to bear fruit, Warner Bros approached Kevin Smith to take over Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. The writer/director was flattered but famously responded “Didn’t we say all we needed to say in the first Beetlejuice? Must we go tropical?” Smith instead opted to work on the script for the ill-fated Superman Lives again leaving the Beetlejuice sequel in limbo.

A year later in 1997 Gems—the original writer of Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian—released a statement essentially saying that Beetlejuice 2 would “likely never get made.” The idea of a Beetlejuice 2 refused to die, however, and news of the sequel would pop up occasionally over the years before ultimately leading to nothing. As recently as 2019, Warner Bros officially stated that a Beetlejuice sequel just wasn’t going to happen.

The New Beetlejuice Sequel

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Then, out of nowhere in 2022 Beetlejuice 2 was again announced with Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder all on board. This time the sequel was actually written, and filmed and is now in postproduction. Sadly, the new movie has abandoned the Hawaiian concept altogether, making Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian nothing but a fun “What if?” for fans to think about while waiting for the actual sequel to come out next year.