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Movie Trivia: Beetlejuice

I love most Tim Burton movies, but I have a special fondness for Beetlejuice. It still kind of blows my mind to see the young, skinny Alec Baldwin, and I can’t quite reconcile that Beetlejuice is Michael Keaton. Mr. Mom? Jack Frost? C’mon. It’s pretty hard to argue that he’s not totally amazing in this film. It must have been a blast… which brings us to our first bit of trivia.
• Michael Keaton has said that out of all of his films, this one is his favorite.

• …Which is perhaps because he only spent two weeks filming. Even though Keaton plays the movie’s title character, Beetlejuice is only in 17.5 minutes of the whole film.

• The screenplay was originally written by Michael McDowell, who also wrote the script for an episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents . The episode, “The Jar,” was directed by Tim Burton. McDowell also went to on write for Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

• Warner Brothers really didn’t care for the original title, which happened to be Beetlejuice. They suggested House Ghosts, which Burton hated, so he retaliated with the equally horrible Scared Sheetless, just to annoy them. He was mortified when they loved it and considered using it.

• After the movie’s success - it grossed $73,707,461 in North America alone and was made for only $13 million - a sequel was considered. It was called - brace yourself - Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. The premise: the Deetzes move to Hawaii to develop a posh resort. Construction begins, and it’s quickly discovered that the hotel will be sitting on top of an ancient burial ground. Uh-huh. Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder were in, but Tim Burton was busy making Batman Returns and lost interest in the campy sequel. Thank God. I don’t think I could deal with Beetlejuice in a lei and flip-flops.

• The film won the Oscar for best makeup. It was up against Scrooged and Coming to America.

• Betelgeuse is a star in the constellation Orion - more specifically, it’s the star that represents his armpit. No coincidence, I’m sure.

• In the waiting room of the afterlife is a sign that says “No Exit” instead of “Exit.” That’s a reference to the Jean-Paul Sartre play, which is about three people stuck in a room together after they bite the big one.

• Tim Burton lobbied hard for Sylvia Sidney to play Juno the caseworker. She turned him down on multiple occasions, but finally said yes after some of the other stars (Michael Keaton in particular) confirmed. As an aside note, Sylvia Sidney’s first husband was Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor. And Sidney was certainly no newbie to the horror genre - she was the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage in 1936.

• The guy who plays Otho, Glenn Shadix, can be found in some other Tim Burton productions as well. He’s the voice of the mayor in The Nightmare Before Christmas and was Senator Nado in Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake. He was also in the 1996 Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity. Photo from

• Be sure to check out all of the guests at the famous dinner party scene - Bernard, the snobby dude who is clearly unimpressed with Delia’s “sculpture,” is played by Dick Cavett.

• Beetlejuice features our first-ever look at Jack Skellington, five years before Nightmare came out. He’s on the top of Beetlejuice’s carousel hat when he comes out during the seance.

As of 2005, Michael Keaton said he was still up for a Beetlejuice sequel. A year later, however, Tim Burton, said sequel plans were all but dead. What do you think? I could handle a sequel, just not a Brady Bunch-esque Hawaiian holiday. Maybe Lydia has grown up and our favorite Ghost with the Most comes calling again? Hmm. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.


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