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Beetlejuice: Movie vs Musical

Differences between Beetlejuice the movie and Beetlejuice The Musical

It's the mid-1980s, and author Michael McDowell has recently watched Poltergeist and Ghostbuster. Now, he wants to create his own house of horrors! One night, he finds himself annoyed by his family, and combining that with the concept of ghosts haunting humans, the mischievous demon bio-exorcist Beetlejuice is born.

Say his name three times, and he's unleashed upon the world. But whether you're watching the movie or bopping to the musical, you might see a different side to the ghostly trickster. So, let's look at just how different the two adaptations of Beetlejuice are.

The story

The movie pays attention to the eerie events of The Maitlands; their deathly car crash, returning home as spirits, and stumbling through the afterlife in search of answers. It's a wild transition as they come to accept their paranormal state. However, whilst the musical and film share the same base story, the musical veers in a different direction.

More focus is shifted to Beetlejuice and Lydia. The musical concentrates more on themes of family, and we see Lydia dealing with grief over her mother, which makes the movie and musical versions of Beetlejuice feel like two different but connected worlds.

The death scene

In the film, The Maitlands meet their end when their car swerves on a bridge to avoid hitting a dog. But in the musical, they don't fall from a bridge in a Volvo, instead, they descend straight through the floorboards of their house, and immediately begin to haunt it. Boo!

This change is extremely practical, and smart when you think about it. It utilizes the existing house set in the musical, and if Beetlejuice is already haunting The Maitland's home, then why not have him be present when they become ghosts to drive the story forward even more?


Beetlejuice in the film has no redemption, he harasses others and is foul-mouthed, demented, and troublesome. A ghost who seems to only care about himself, he is proud to have tormenting others as his occupation.

However, in the musical, we see a different side to him. He is slightly more sympathetic, expressing feelings of loneliness and a desire for companionship. His character and backstory are more nuanced, and we can empathize with him more. Of course, he's still horrific, but he has a much bigger arc that the audience can relate to.

The characters

The musical amplifies the dark comedy of the movie, and one way it does this is by adding new characters and expanding on the existing ones. There's Skye, a girl scout with a heart arrhythmia who gets the fright of her life and undoubtedly gives the audience plenty of laughter.

Then there's Elia - in the movie, Elia doesn't engage much in sculpting. However, in the musical, she fully embraces her transformed character, becoming an unwaveringly positive life coach with a penchant for crystals. A new character called Miss Argentina is introduced from The Netherworld. She's a Latin beauty queen who regrets her death and as a result, teaches Lydia to seize the most out of life.

The Netherworld

When Lydia journeys into the Netherworld in the musical, we get to see a thrilling set transition that is wildly different from the movie. In the Broadway adaptation, the set transforms into a sprawling labyrinthine underworld, offering a visual adventure!

So, whether you're screaming in terror at the film or tapping along to the musical, both versions of Beetlejuice are highly worth the watch. No matter which form of Beetlejuice you choose, just say his name three times and let the spectral fun begin!

For a hauntingly good time, you can book your Beetlejuice tickets today.