The 13th Floor

BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN: The Sequel That Almost Was

The Internet broke last Mach when many (many, many) entertainment websites claimed that director Tim Burton had confirmed BEETLEJUICE II was officially moving towards production. Problem is: Burton’s comments were completely fabricated. After a tremendous buildup, heartbreaking news to the contrary felt like someone had cancelled Christmas, leaving fans confused and flabbergasted.

Tim Burton has expressed interest in revisiting BEETLEJUICE for years, as the film is very close to his heart. But despite the fact that Michael Keaton has vowed to reprise the famous “bio-exorcist” under Burton’s direction, and despite Winona Ryder’s insistence that it’s a “done deal”, no one can say for certain if BEETLEJUICE II will ever see the light of day. Anyone saying otherwise must be a certifiable psychic with a crystal ball.

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But this isn’t the first time news of BEETLEJUICE sequel seemed imminent before vanishing into the ether. Back in 1990, Burton hired screenwriter Jonathan Gems to pen a sequel titled BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN. While rumors suggest Burton ordered the script as a joke (or grudgingly, under pressure, assuming studio execs would instantly trash it), the project gained serious traction.

Per Wikipedia:

“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. The story followed the Deetz family moving to Hawaii, where Charles is developing a resort. They soon discover that his company is building on the burial ground of an ancient Hawaiian Kahuna. The spirit comes back from the afterlife to cause trouble, and Betelgeuse becomes a hero by winning a surf contest with magic. Keaton and Ryder agreed to do the film, on the condition that Burton directed, but both he and Keaton became distracted with BATMAN RETURNS.

An awesome article on Cracked tells us more about what might-have-been:

In the grand finale, Beetlejuice turns into a giant monster (“Juicifer”) when his plans have gone to shit and starts leveling the island with some help from reanimated dinosaur skeletons and monster Easter Island heads. Then, a no-longer hot for Beetlejuice Lydia uses her psychic powers to summon a tidal wave and … levels the island herself, apparently. Including her parents’ hotel. The end.

As ridiculous as the above description sounds, it’s also ridiculously intriguing!  I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Juicifer and his army of ghosties destroy Hawaii?

Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian Fan Art
Fan Art for BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN

Warner Brothers was still kicking around plans for BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN as late as 1996 when they approached Kevin Smith for another round of re-writes.  Smith passed immediately, famously asking: “Didn’t we say all we needed to say in the first BETTLEJUICE? Must we go tropical?” In 1997, Gems told fans: “The BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN script is still owned by The Geffen Film Company, and it will likely never get made. You really couldn’t do it now anyway; Winona is too old for the role, and the only way they could make it would be to totally recast it.”

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It’s widely opined that BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN would have been a franchise-killer, proving it’s not always bad when sequels get scrapped. Still, who wouldn’t treasure a chance to travel to an alternate dimension for no other reason than to see this incredible monstrosity?

As for the current script for BEETLEJUICE II (yes, a script exists; no this isn’t proof of a “done deal”), Wiki tells us:

In September 2011, Warner Bros. hired Seth Grahame-Smith, who collaborated with Burton on DARK SHADOWS and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, to write and produce a sequel to BEETLEJUICE. Grahame-Smith signed on with the intention of doing “a story that is worthy of us actually doing this for real, something that is not just about cashing in, is not just about forcing a remake or a reboot down someone’s throat.”

Will fans ever get the BEETLEJUICE sequel we ravenously crave?  Only time will tell.

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