AFI Movie Club: BEETLEJUICE – American Film Institute
Beetlejuice Film Still - Michael Keaton



BEETLEJUICE, directed by Tim Burton and starring Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton and recent Emmy ® winner Catherine O’Hara, is a darkly twisted comedy that depicts life in the afterlife.

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Watch Dakota Johnson announce the film:

Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

DID YOU KNOW? The onscreen credit for BEETLEJUICE splits the title into two words. Posters for the film – as well as the majority of reviews and articles published at the time – combined them into one word, which has widely become the de facto spelling.

DID YOU KNOW? In the shooting script for BEETEJUICE, the title character is introduced under the proper spelling of his name – “Betelgeuse,” named after one of the most visible stars in the night sky. After that point in the screenplay – and in marketing materials – he goes by the phonetic spelling of his name.

DID YOU KNOW? Actor Michael Keaton said that when he was originally approached by director Tim Burton about the character of Beetlejuice, he “didn’t know what he was talking about.” He liked Burton, though, and understood that the director was working from a very original idea – so Keaton explored different costumes and aesthetics with the help of Oscar®-winning makeup artist Ve Neill to find the character.

DID YOU KNOW? Tim Burton cast Winona Ryder as angsty teen Lydia Deetz in BEETLEJUICE after seeing her feature debut in LUCAS. The pair have since collaborated on EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and the stop-motion animated film FRANKENWEENIE.

DID YOU KNOW? The film’s special effects included a mix of new and old technologies – including “old-style mirror effects,” according to production notes in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences library. Creature designer and effects makeup artist Robert Short stated that he spent three months designing and constructing creature models during pre-production and noted that most of the effects were filmed live on set.

DID YOU KNOW? Ve Neill, Steve La Porte and Robert Short won the Oscar® for Best Makeup for their brilliantly twisted work work on BEETLEJUICE.

DID YOU KNOW? Developed and executive produced by Tim Burton, an animated television series based on the film was produced by Nelvana Entertainment and Warner Bros. for ABC from 1989 through 1991.

DID YOU KNOW? With music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect and book by Scott Brown and Anthony King, a Broadway musical based on BEETLEJUICE opened in 2019. The show played its final performance in March of 2020, closing its doors due to the Covid-19 shutdown.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.
-How would you classify BEETLEJUICE? Horror? Comedy?

-How do you think BEETLJUICE is visually representative of director Tim Burton’s distinctive and original sensibilities? What are the touches that distinguish it as a Burton film?

– How do you think BEETLJUICE is thematically aligned with director Tim Burton’s other films?

-How would you characterize the music in the film – and how does it enhance or reflect the onscreen narrative?

-What makes composer Danny Elfman and director Tim Burton such notable collaborators? Can you think of any other iconic director/composer collaborations?

-Do you think BEETLEJUICE would be as effective – or more or less effective – if produced today, with the help of computers?

-What are the film’s philosophical perspectives on death? Do they align with any real-world ideologies?

-How would you rate BEETLEJUICE?

Watch this exclusive video of Tim Burton from the AFI Archive:

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