Why Warner Bros. Wants to Rebrand Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice is iconic in part because of the film's weird and alluring title, but Warner Bros. has other, less exciting ideas for the title.
Beetlejuice is one of the most famous horror comedies, and part of what makes it so iconic is its unique name, but Warner Bros. wanted to change the movie's title. Released in 1988, Beetlejuice follows a married couple who live as ghosts after being killed in a car accident as they try to scare the family who move into their house. They enlist the help of the biological exorcist Betelgeuse (aka Beetlejuice). The character has many vices, is manipulative, and is misogynistic, and by the end of the movie, the couple and the living family work together to kill the self-proclaimed "Most Powerful Ghost."
Beetlejuice was a great afterlife film and was a huge box office success due to its creative gothic filmmaking, expert comedic performances, and extremely unique take on the undead (via Box Office Mojo). However, the film wasn't without plenty of creative differences between Burton and Warner Bros. during development and production. One of those differences is the choice of movie title. While Burton was adamant about the final decision to title the film Beetlejuice, the studio was desperate The director changed the name to something more marketable.
The Studio Didn’t Think It Could Sell A Movie Called Beetlejuice
Although the film grossed nearly $75 million worldwide on a $15 million budget, it certainly wasn't a surefire success, at least not according to Warner Bros. The studio worried about the film's success, not least because of its confusing title, since "Beetlejuice" is a play about Betelgeuse, the actual spelling of the name of the creature's exorcist and the name of a constellation. According to IndieWire, Warner Bros. asked Burton to change his name. But the studio shouldn't worry, as the film not only made money at the time, but it's still considered a cult classic today.
However, the studio definitely had a right to attention at the time. Tim Burton isn't a well-known director today, he only directed Pee-wee's Big Adventure before Beetlejuice, which was a very different film. On top of that, between the outlandish concept that's hard to sum up in one sentence and Michael Keaton playing an unlikable and cheesy creature exorcist who doesn't turn into a snake like his usual everyman persona, this movie Might be easy to bomb. Having a confusing name that doesn't quite reveal anything about the plot also seems to spell disaster on paper for the studio.
Beetlejuice Had Several Other Titles
Following Warner Bros. Dissatisfied with Beetlejuice's title, the studio discussed the possibility of a better title for the film. This leads to some of the flattest choices, like House Ghosts, which would have Adam and Barbara Maitland as titular characters instead of Beetlejuice. Burton then jokingly suggests Scared Sheetless, a reference to the stunt in the movie where Adam and Barbara wear sheets to try to scare Lydia. But the most pernicious thought is Anonymous Haunted House Stories 39480. If any title could have doomed the movie's box office potential, this is it. Fortunately, the very memorable title Beetlejuice stuck in the end.