Hollywood Movies

Tim Burton, Michael Keaton Surprise CinemaCon

April 10, 20244 Mins Read

Somebody in Sin City must’ve whispered his name three times because Beetlejuice manifested on the Colosseum stage at Caesars Palace Tuesday afternoon.

During Warner Bros. Pictures’ CinemaCon presentation, Tim Burton and the stars of his upcoming Beetlejuice Beetlejuice turned up to rousing applause from the capacity crowd gathered for the annual National Association of Theater Owners convention. Burton walked out first and said getting his Beetlejuice family together again was like “a big weird family reunion.”

As such, he was quickly joined by the film’s Michael Keaton, Catherine O’Hara, Willem Dafoe, Justin Theroux and Monica Bellucci. (Upon walking on stage, Keaton joked, “I wasn’t alerted to the dress code” as everyone on his film was dressed in shades of black.) Stars Winona Ryder and Jenna Ortega could not attend due to production schedules on their current projects, confirmed Warner Bros. chief Michael DeLuca who was joined onstage by his counterpart, Pamela Abdy, to introduce the film and ask questions of Burton and his actors.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice stars Ortega opposite Keaton, back as the grotesque ghost, with Ryder returning as Lydia Deetz, who is now a mother to Ortega’s character. O’Hara also returns with new additions Dafoe, Theroux and Bellucci rounding out the cast. The screenplay was written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar from a story by the pair with Seth Grahame-Smith.

The story picks up as the Deetz family has returned home to Winter River following an unexpected family tragedy. Still haunted by Beetlejuice, Lydia’s life is turned upside down when her rebellious teenage daughter, Astrid, played by Ortega, discovers the mysterious model of the town in the attic, accidentally opening the portal to the afterlife. With trouble now in both realms, it’s only a matter of time until someone summons Beetlejuice, who returns to unleash his distinct brand of mayhem.

Burton said he started thinking about a sequel basically since the last one was released in 1987, and he has revisited the idea over the years as he pondered how people’s lives change. “I got interested in what happened to the Deetz family,” said Burton, who also introduced a new trailer after saying that he couldn’t show much as he has to head back to London tomorrow to finish the film. (One memorable line from the new footage finds Ryder’s Lydia offering, “The living. The dead. Can they co-exist? That’s what we’re here to find out.”)

Keaton continued the thought and said he and Burton have kicked around the notion of a sequel many times over the years. “Finally it got right,” Keaton said, adding that it was a combination of timing and the quality of the script meeting a moment. “Frankly, I just followed his lead.” Then Keaton admitted that he’s seen the film twice already: “I have to tell you this though, it’s really fucking good.”

Though Ortega was absent, she received some shine from the stage as Burton said he was impressed that she went straight from Disney movies into the horror genre (like Scream). Keaton said the young star also never had to be reminded of the tone or how to navigate the Beetlejuice world, “she just got it.”

The showing comes nearly three weeks after Warners debuted the first trailer for the film, a sequel to the 1988 original that starred Keaton opposite Winona Ryder, O’Hara, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. The clip has now been viewed north of 16 million times.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice arrives Sept. 6, after a very long road to the screen. Burton has long talked about tackling another installment, and it finally came together early last year with Ortega on board. The film further brings Ortega into Burton’s world, as she is the star of Wednesday, the blockbuster series for Netflix that he directed on and produced.

“It’s been quite an insane experience. I’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with an iconic director who just so happens to be one of the sweetest directors I’ve worked with, and also the most detail-oriented,” Ortega previously told The Hollywood Reporter of her collaborations with Burton.

Beetlejuice also inspired the ensembles of Warner Bros. executives Jeff Goldstein and Andrew Cripps, who opened the studio’s presentation on Tuesday by stepping out on stage in black-and-white striped suits, black ties and electrified white wigs. (Last year, the pair donned suits in Barbie pink). “Good afterlife,” Goldstein said, with Cripps interjecting, “You mean, good afternoon.” Goldstein then asked the capacity crowd to decide who wore it better by a showing of applause. For the record: Goldstein won to which Cripps quipped, “They’re just shocked you have hair.” A burn so good there’s no doubt Beetlejuice would approve.

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