35 Fun Facts About “Beetlejuice”

While technically not quite a horror film, Beetlejuice has certainly left its mark in the horror community.  The truth is, it’s a difficult film to place in just one genre because it’s so unique and creative.  Decades later and you can still find memorabilia of it all over Hot Topic, Spencer’s, and horror conventions.

And at those very same conventions, there’s never a shortage of Beetlejuice cosplayers.  Revered by countless fans as their favorite Tim Burton movie, it really has left a lasting legacy and continues to be enjoyed today.  So in honor of its 35th anniversary, we thought it would be fitting and fun to look at 35 fun facts about Beetlejuice!

1. There is some debate as to whether the character’s name should be “Betelgeuse” (as in the star on Orion’s Belt) or “Beetlejuice” (spelled phonetically).  Technically the former is correct, while the latter was used for the title and marketing since it’s easier to spell.

2. Warner Brothers initially wanted the movie to be titled “House Ghosts”.  Tim Burton then jokingly suggested “Scared Sheetless”, and was shocked when they actually considered it briefly.

3. Earlier drafts of the script were much darker, including a more gruesome death scene for the Maitlands, and Beetlejuice himself being a winged demon.

4. The entire concept for the movie came from taking the premise of Poltergeist and flipping it so that the living humans were the nuisance rather than the spirits.

5. Tim Burton’s original choice for Beetlejuice was Sammy Davis Jr., whom Burton had been a huge fan of since he was a child.  The studio felt he was too old for the role, and suggested Michael Keaton due to his success in comedies like Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Gung Ho.

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Sammy Davis Jr. was in his 60s at the time, and sadly died in 1990, not long after the movie came out.

6. Keaton originally turned it down, not really understanding the humor.  However, after seeing Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and meeting with Tim Burton, he changed his mind.

7. Anjelica Huston was originally cast as Delia, but had to leave the project due to an injury.

8. Before Geena Davis was cast as Barbara Maitland, the role was offered to Kirstie Alley.  However, she was unable to get out of her contract with Cheers, since shooting would have overlapped tapings of the TV show.

9. Alyssa Milano was considered for the role of Lydia, and it ultimately came down to her and Winona Ryder as the finalists, with Ryder being chosen.

10. When helping Michael Keaton prepare for the titular role, Tim Burton described Beetlejuice as “having lived in every time period, but no time period”; thus giving him a timeless feel.

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His whole getup feels like a collection of attire he got over the centuries.

11. Keaton even helped design his character’s iconic look, which included a face and hairstyle that looked like he had been electrocuted.

12. Michael Keaton also cited Bill Moseley’s performance as Chop Top in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as an inspiration for Beetlejuice’s character and mannerisms.

13. The original scripted ending featured Lydia voluntarily dying in a fire so she could join the Maitlands in the afterlife.  However, this was considered too dark, and producers worried that it might send the wrong message and encourage suicide.

14. Given that only $1 million of the film’s $15 million budget was designated for special effects, Tim Burton decided that he would play into this, making it feel as much like a b-movie as possible, including very cheap, fake-looking effects for fun.

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Sure, the sandworms look fake, but there’s such a charm to them.

15. Michael Keaton admits that he ad-libbed a substantial amount of Beetlejuice’s lines.

16. Despite being the title character, Beetlejuice is only on screen for about 15 minutes of the entire runtime.

17. While set in Connecticut, the film was shot in Vermont for certain exteriors, and in Los Angeles for studio sets.

18. The Maitlands’ store is actually the General Store in East Corinth, Vermont, and it’s still open today.

19. Initially, the studio had wanted a more modern song rather than “Day-O” for the iconic dinner scene.  Tim Burton fought this, because he felt that using a modern song would date the movie very quickly, but using an older one would make it timeless.

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It’s hard to imagine that scene with any other song now.

20. Despite being released when the PG-13 rating existed, Beetlejuice was rated PG and still contained the world “fuck”, when Beetlejuice exclaims, “nice fucking model!”

21. It took a week to craft the clay sculptures used when the Maitlands transform into terrifying monsters.

22. Many have pointed out that while every other ghost in the waiting room look like how they died, the Maitlands aren’t wet, despite having drowned.  Tim Burton later admitted that this was a practical decision as having Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis dripping wet the entire time would have been difficult and uncomfortable for the actors.

23. Catherine O’Hara and Bo Welch (the production designer on the film) met during shooting and began dating.  They married in 1992 and are still together today.

24. Many have noticed that the Merry-Go-Round on Beetlejuice’s head features a figure of Jack Skellington.  Tim Burton had first drawn the character back in 1982, and it would be several more years until Nightmare Before Christmas was made.

25. The final scene with Beetlejuice in the waiting room getting his head shrunk was added in post production because they thought it would make a funny epilogue.

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It fits as it gives Beetlejuice just a bit more of what he deserves, albeit in a hilarious way.

26. Grossed $74.7 million on a $15 million budget, and was the 10th highest grossing film of 1988.

27. Beetlejuice received generally positive reviews, although famed critic Roger Ebert only gave it 2 out of 4 stars, stating that he preferred the early “sweet romanticism” between the Maitlands over the relentless slapstick that dominated the rest of the movie.

28. Initially, a sequel called “Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian” was planned, but never came to fruition.  In the decades since there have been whispers here and there.  Currently, it is rumored that Jenna Ortega (whom Burton worked with on Wednesday) has been cast alongside Michael Keaton reprising his role.  Although nothing has been officially confirmed at this point.

29. Beetlejuice went on to win 3 Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film, Best Makeup, and Best Supporting Actress for Sylvia Sidney.  It was also up for Best Special Effects, but lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

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The movie wouldn’t be the same without Sidney’s performance as Juno. Burton would cast her again in 1996’s Mars Attacks!

30. It also even won the Academy Award for Best Makeup as well.

31. An animated TV spinoff aired from 1989 to 1991, following Beetlejuice and Lydia getting into wacky adventures.  It had very little to do with the movie itself.

32. Back when Netflix was first launched, Beetlejuice was the very first DVD they ever shipped via their DVD by mail service on March 10, 1998.

33. Michael Keaton has stated that Beetlejuice was his favorite character to play, even more so than Batman.

34. When Otho actor Glenn Shadix passed away in 2010, “Day-O” was played at his memorial service as a tribute to his role in Beetlejuice.

35. In 2018, a Broadway musical inspired by the film was developed by Eddie Perfect.

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Given how outlandish and visually creative the movie is, it’s kind of surprising it took this long for a musical version to be made.

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you?  Let us know in the comments!

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