The Best Stories and Trivia About Beetlejuice

Recently, rumors have abounded (again) about a possible Beetlejuice reboot. While nothing has been confirmed yet, we’re excited about the idea. Whether it happens or not, we can’t deny how great the first one was. Here are some of the best stories and facts about this movie, plus some great photos and videos at the end!

beetlejuice original plot

We know this film as a wacky story of the undead, a wisecracking ghost, and two ghosts who don’t realize they’re dead for a while. However, the original concept was much darker. It was originally penned as a horror film, with Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) taking the form of a winged, reptilian monster and manifesting in human form as a short, Middle Eastern man.


How long do we get Beetlejuice on screen, anyway?

Beetlejuice screentime

Beetlejuice is the namesake of this movie, and perhaps the main character, but only has 17 minutes of screentime! Michael Keaton filmed for about 2 weeks only. He still calls it one of his favorite roles ever.


Where were we going to see Beetlejuice in the first proposed sequel?

beetlejuice hawaii

In 1990, a sequel was proposed: Beetlejuice Goes to Hawaii! Everything was set to go ahead, but the cast refused to film unless Tim Burton could direct. Burton, being too busy with Batman Returns was unable to, so the plan was scrapped. The script still exists, and is still owned by the Geffen Film Company.


Who was originally approached to play Beetlejuice?

beetlejuice sammy davis jr

Even though Michael Keaton did a fantastic job as Betelgeuse, Tim Burton originally wanted to cast Sammy Davis Jr. as the “bio-exorcist.” Keaton eventually got cast, and we suspect Burton liked him – he went on to act in Batman Begins, which Burton directed!


What happens when you say things three times in the movie?

beetlejuice three times

Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Say his name three times and he manifests. Did you notice the other times in the movie where you need to say something three times? The Maitlands also say the word “home” three times to escape Betelgeuse. They also knock on the door three times to get into the After Life.


Who was supposed to play Delia Deetz?

beetlejuice angelica huston

Angelica Huston was almost Delia Deetz! Unfortunately, she had to cancel due to an illness. Tim Burton then flew out to meet Catherine O’Hara – who had declined Burton’s offer for the role – to convince her to take the role.


Find out why that was one of the best decisions she ever made, next!

beetlejuice bo welch catherine ohara married

Despite originally being unwilling to play the role of Delia, Catherine O’Hara agreed to play the overdramatic artist who gets haunted by the Maitlands. On set, she met, fell in love with, and eventually married production designer Bo Welch. Looks like that was a role of a lifetime!


Why were the Maitlands dry, despite drowning to death?

beetlejuice waiting room

Did you notice how in the waiting room of the After Life, all the dead were shown in the condition they’d died in? However, the Maitlands, who drowned to death, aren’t shown as being wet. This is because keeping the actors wet for the course of the movie would have just been too uncomfortable for filming!


 Where did the name Beetlejuice come from, anyway?

beetlejuice betelgeuse

Beetlejuice is named for Betelgeuse star in the Orion constellation – the ninth brightest star in the sky. Could be the writers liked the sound of the name and chose it based on that, but the studio was not so on board with the title! They tried to convince Burton to change the name of the movie to no avail. Some of the titles suggested include “House Ghosts”, “Anonymous Haunted House Story 39480,” and, my favorite, “Scared Sheetless.”


What’s the significance of Flight 409?

beetlejuice flight 409

When Adam and Barbara are at the office, a voice is heard announcing that “”Flight 409 is arriving at Gate 3”. For those who missed the subtle reference, on October 6, 1955 United Airlines Flight 409 crashed into a mountain over Wyoming. All passengers aboard the plane were sadly killed. It was the worst crash in history at that point, and to this day, no one knows what happened.


Why did Lydia get married in a red dress?

beetlejuice red wedding dress

Ever heard the superstition about wedding dress colors? Particularly, “Married in red, better off dead”? Well, Lydia’s wedding dress was bright red. Guess that’s a reason to go for white on your big day…


What did Michael Keaton improvise?

beetlejuice michael keaton improv

Michael Keaton improvised a lot of his lines and drew a lot of different inspirations for his character. Tim Burton told him that Betelgeuse was someone/thing who “…lived in every time period but no time period.” Keaton took this inspiration and fleshed out his character with crazy hair, big teeth, and the moldy makeup. When he showed up in costume, everyone loved it, which inspired a lot of his improvisations.


Ever notice this fun thing about the credits?

beetlejuice dayo

Even if it’s been a while since you watched this comedy, you probably remember the scene where they all get possessed at dinner and sing Harry Belanfonte’s “Day-O”. In that scene, they’re lip-synching to the original song, but in the opening credits, you can hear composer Danny Elfman singing the tune!

Also, when Glenn Shadix, who played Otho, passed away in 2010, “Day-O” was the final song played at his memorial service.


Who ends up as civil servants for the rest of their lives?

beetlejuice suicide

In the movie, people who commit suicide are relegated to bureaucratic office jobs for the rest of their afterlives. Otho informs everyone of this at the dinner party, and it is confirmed by Miss Argentina, the receptionist at the After Life office – she slit her wrists.


What sequel sort of did happen?

beetlejuice animated

Tim Burton movies often feel like cartoon fairy-tales as it is, so it’s no surprise that this wildly popular movie had a spin-off as an animated show. It was very successful, with over 100 episodes airing!


What Oscar did it win?

beetlejuice makeup

The movie won an Oscar – for best makeup! We were sure it would be Best Soundtrack, or Best Use of The Undead, but the makeup was pretty epic as well.


Who had to be convinced to join this stellar cast?

beetlejuice sylvia sidney

Michael Keaton and Geena Davis were on board immediately. Harder to convince was Sylvia Sidney, who played Juno. She eventually agreed and worked with Tim Burton again in the 1996 comedy Mars Attacks!

It was also hard to cast Lydia – Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, and Jennifer Connelly all turned it down. Winona Ryder was a pick made by Burton, after he saw her in the teen drama Lucas.


Why was the original ending scrapped?

beetlejuice ending

By now you know the movie had a happy ending, with Betelgeuse last seen harassing a woman who’s been sawed in half and getting his head shrunk by a witch doctor. This was because test audiences didn’t like the original ending – in which he was stuck in the Maitlands’ model town, being eaten by worms. We wouldn’t have wanted to see that ending for our favorite ghoul, either.


This is super-meta

beetlejuice people watching

Remember the scene where Adam and Barbara come into Juno’s office and find her speaking to a recently deceased football team? If you look through the window, you can see a theater of people watching them, giving the impression that you – the audience – were in fact being watched by ghosts.


What was wrong with the snake created for Betelgeuse’s character?

beetlejuice snake

Michael Keaton was on set for only 2 weeks (as Betelgeuse didn’t get much screen time), so the animatronic snake that played him was created before he ever made it on set. It was discovered that it had no resemblance to Betelgeuse, and was scrapped and replaced with a stop-motion snaked that looked more like Betelgeuse.


Is it Beetlejuice or Betelgeuse?

beetlejuice spelling

Wait, is it Beetlejuice or Betelgeuse? Well, depends. The characters name is spelled “Betelgeuse”, which sounds like “Beetlejuice.” The reason why many of us refer to him as Beetlejuice is because it’s easier to spell and keep track of, and was funnier for younger audiences. Also, because the movie title is “Beetlejuice” and not “Betelgeuse.” Confused? Don’t worry – just enjoy the movie!


Finally, check out this video with Michael Keaton!

Like we said originally, no sequel has been confirmed for sure. We hope it happens, but until then, we’ll satisfy ourselves with this video of Michael Keaton discussing the role!


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