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Michael Keaton Back From the Dead in Zany ‘Beetlejuice 2’ First Look at CinemaCon: ‘It’s Really F—ing Good’


Michael Keaton was blunt about what audiences can expect when “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” hits screens, more than 36 years after the first film opened.

“It’s really fucking good,” the actor told theater owners at CinemaCon. And based on the zany look at “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” that Keaton and Tim Burton shared, the collaborators have come up with something that could be out of this Netherworld. Burton, Keaton, and Catherine O’Hara, who co-starred in the original, took the stage at Caesars Palace on Tuesday for Warner Bros.’ presentation to theater owners to hype the sequel’s undead delights.

“I was very nervous to see if we could pull this off again,” Keaton admitted. “But every day just got better.”

Burton directs the sequel from a script from Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, creators of the Jenna Ortega-starring Netflix series “Wednesday.” That makes sense as Ortega is in “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice.” She’s a newcomer to the series, but of course she’d have to be since the 21-year-old actress wasn’t even born when the first film debuted. Winona Ryder reprises her part as Lydia, a woman who has ties with the afterlife with Ortega playing her daughter who unintentionally rouses Keaton’s poltergeist.

“The living. The dead. Can they co-exist?” Ryder says in the trailer that Burton and crew shared. “That’s what we’re here to find out.”

The trailer shows Keaton terrorizing a frightened looking townsperson who keeps insisting the ghost in front of him is an illusion. “Do I look like a figment of your imagination?” Keaton goads the man as he flashes him in a demonic manner.

Justin Theroux, Monica Bellucci and Willem Dafoe are joining the haunted house huddle for this go round. They were in Vegas, though Ryder and Ortega were not able to hit Sin City because of their production schedules.

“This cast is so good,” Keaton said. “Everyone is so friggin’ funny.”

The original “Beetlejuice” followed a pair of ghosts who try to scare some newcomers out of their home by making the big mistake of enlisting the help of a crude and vulgar ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced “Beetlejuice” and played by Keaton with fiendish abandon). Along with being a massive box office success that helped pave the way for Burton and Keaton to re-team on 1989’s “Batman,” the 1987 “Beetlejuice” also inspired a hit musical adaptation on Broadway. A sequel has been in and out of development for decades — at one point, Burton planned to move the action from New England to Hawaii, but that plan appears to have been abandoned.

“Over the years we would kind of kick the notion of it around,” Keaton said. When they joined forces the filmmakers tried to have everything “done as close to the way we made it the first time.” That meant dazzling, meticulously detailed, slightly macabre sets and makeup and props. “It’s like a weird big home movie for me,” Burton said in a BTS video that Warner Bros. showed before the director appeared.

“Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” opens on Sept. 6. Filming on the sequel was briefly suspended during the 2023 actors strike, with production resuming in November after SAG-AFTRA reached a deal for a new contract.