Beetlejuice 2 Almost Had A Title That Paid Tribute To A Horror Classic

Stating that Tim Burton loves B-movie horror is a little like saying the grass is green and the sky is blue (which is technically not true, but you grasp my meaning). The director has spent his entire career paying homage to classic Hammer horror pictures and low-budget genre fare, from his blood-drenched, practically black-and-white "Sleepy Hollow" and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" adaptations to his gleefully bizarre alien invasion flick "Mars Attacks!" and his biopic about the grandaddy of cult camp cinema, "Ed Wood." Seeing as his 1988 hit "Beetlejuice" draws inspiration from many of those same influences, it's only fitting that his long-awaited sequel, "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice," tipped its hat to them directly with its alternate title.

An earlier iteration of the movie, titled "Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian," entered development in the '90s and would've very much embodied what audiences expected from Burton in that decade (which is to say its screenplay was strikingly unruly and more than a little horny). "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice," on the other hand, reads more like a typical legacy sequel, bringing Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara back as goth icon Lydia Deetz and her oddball mother Delia opposite Burton's "Wednesday" star Jenna Ortega as Lydia's own weirdo teen daughter Astrid. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Burton cited this generational aspect — the journey of "going from cool teenager to lame adult, back and forth again," as he described it — as the thing that finally convinced him to make the film after reviving and then (briefly) abandoning the project in the 2010s.

As for the title? Burton admitted that he very nearly went with one that paid respect to his personal hero and legendary "Dracula" actor, Christopher Lee, before settling on the final version.

'It didn't feel like Beetlejuice 2'

Not pointing fingers, but let's just say a certain well-known entertainment news outlet committed a major faux pas by glancing at the "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" poster a tad too quickly and initially reporting the title was "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice 2024 A.D." (Dunno what all the fuss is about; personally, I'm looking forward to seeing that after watching "House of the Dragon JUNE MAX" later this year.) Funnily enough, however, that was actually pretty close to what Burton almost called the film. As he explained to EW:

"It's been, what? 35 years. [Editor's note: It's been 36 years.] So it didn't feel like 'Beetlejuice 2' to me. It didn't feel like that kind of a movie. The other one I thought of because one of my favorite Dracula movies is 'Dracula A.D. 1972,' was 'Beetlejuice 2024 A.D.' But this was a nice simple one."

Director Alan Gibson's "Dracula A.D. 1972," which is unique among Hammer's "Dracula" films for its then-modern setting, was one of several movies in which Lee played Bram Stoker's famous blood-sucker, starting with 1958's "Dracula." Lee himself would later go on to work with Burton multiple times in his twilight years, lending his voice to "Corpse Bride" and "Alice in Wonderland" while also showing up in the flesh in "Sleepy Hollow," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and "Dark Shadows." And while I cannot deny "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" is simpler, "Beetlejuice 2024 A.D." would have certainly been a fitting moniker in keeping with the rest of Burton's oeuvre — not to mention the parallels between Dracula getting resurrected only to find himself in the '70s and the B-man being a demonic fish-out-of-water trying to navigate the 21st century.

"Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" rises from the grave on September 6, 2024.