Today – March 30th, 2018 – marks the 30th anniversary of Beetlejuice, the quirky horror comedy that launched director Tim Burton into the big leagues and provided star Michael Keaton with one of his most iconic roles (probably just second to his portrayal of Batman). Even after several decades, the film is still a cult favourite with a legion of fans and is now getting its own stage musical. It could have been a very different, much darker, movie, though, if things had gone according to the original plan.
Yahoo! chatted with the film’s writer, Larry Wilson, recently to discuss some little-known facts about Beetlejuice. Among other things, he revealed that the initial idea for the ending saw Winona Ryder’s goth girl Lydia Deetz die in a fire.
“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.”
Beetlejuice fans might know that the script went through many drafts before it made it to the screen. At first, for instance, the film put much more emphasis on the horror than the comedy. Initially, Beetlejuice was depicted as a small Middle-Eastern man who lusted after the teenage Lydia and attempted to murder her sister (a character who didn’t make it into the final version).
Circling back to the original, darker ending though, and if they’d gone with it, it would’ve prevented Winona Ryder from being involved in a potential sequel. Back in the 1990s, there was an idea to do Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, in which the ghost would follow Lydia to a family vacation to Hawaii. Thankfully, though, that pitch never materialized.
In recent years, however, there’s been a renewed interest in a belated Beetlejuice follow-up. Burton, Keaton and Ryder have all been linked, and last we heard, screenwriter Mike Vukadinovich was attached to provide the script. No further updates have surfaced, but as always, watch this space for more.