After it was announced that David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith were forming a production company whose first order of business was to develop a sequel to the Tim Burton comedy Beetlejuice, the biggest question on everybody’s mind was whether they would be casting a newer, younger actor in the title role and treating this film as something of a reboot, or if they would be getting Michael Keaton to once again don the zombie makeup and green hair of the iconic ghost with the most. As it turns out, Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith are very wise men who understand that Michael Keaton, quite frankly, is Beetlejuice. It didn’t even feel right when somebody else voiced him for the animated series and I was 8 when I watched that.
During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith defended what they’re doing with this new movie. First, Katzenberg assured everyone, “We’re not remaking Beetlejuice. People have been very angry about that.” As they’ve said since the beginning, what they’re doing is going to be a completely new sequel. Grahame-Smith further clarified their approach, “When Warner Bros. came to us about it, we said the only way we’d do it if we got Tim [Burton’s] blessing and involvement, and we got that, and the star of the movie has to be Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, and it’s a true continuation 26 years later. Not just throwing him in as a cameo going, ‘Hey, it’s me. I endorse this movie.’”
This isn’t all wrapped up in a nice little package though. Keaton isn’t yet attached to the project. The creative duo want to first develop the film so that they have something to present the actor with, rather than try to get him to commit to something blind. A lot of people are still going to think it’s very strange to see a new Beetlejuice movie that isn’t directed by Tim Burton. I mean, a large part of the reason that movie exists was just as a showcase for Burton’s visual style. But if a sequel is going to be made, it sounds to me like these two are the guys to make it happen. Not everyone in the film industry would commit to the idea of casting a 60-year-old actor as the star of a movie that could re-launch a potential franchise. Maybe they have the respect for the material and the balls to make something good.