After years of speculation, it looks as if Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are actually making steps towards reuniting for a sequel to their 1988 horror-comedy collaboration Beetlejuice.
The Wrap is reporting that Burton has entered into talks to direct a follow-up Beetlejuice film for the Geffen Company. It’s not not sure that this will be the director’s next project however. He has recently wrapped the film Big Eyes and has the adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ bestselling novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which may take precedence.
Deadline cautions that these negotiations are “very early,” but it should be noted that there is no love lost between Deadline’s Nikki Finke and The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman and this wouldn’t be the first time that Deadline appeared to be downplaying a story being reported by the Wrap.
Burton had previously stated that any involvement by him with a Beetlejuice sequel would depend on the quality of the script that was being developed by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter writer Seth Grahame-Smith. Apparently it turned out to be good enough that the director is at least talking to the studio about coming back.
As a followup to his feature film debut Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice was the film that solidified Burton’s signature visual look to his audiences. It was from this film that he was hired for 1989’s Batman starring Michael Keaton that started the modern wave of superhero cinema. In all, Beetlejuice is a rather important touchstone both for the director and for the shape of blockbuster cinema over the past two decades or so.
Which leads me to wonder if Burton should really be revisiting it. Sure, no bad sequel can ever retroactively make an original film bad, but I can’t help but think that such a project is bound to be buffeted by the headwinds of people’s expectations, especially in the wake of Burton’s disappointing 2012 film Dark Shadows.
This isn’t the first time that Burton has thought about doing a sequel to Beetlejuice. After the first film was released, he oversaw the writing of a script entitled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian which screenwriter Jonathan Gems had stated would have combined German expressionism and 60s surf movies because Burton thought “they’re totally wrong together.” Burton, however, got distracted by the success of Batman and Warner’s insistence of making Batman Returns a priority pretty much derailed the project, although Warner Brothers was still trying to get it made and approached Kevin Smith about doing a rewrite. Smith passed in order to work on the never made Superman Lives.