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Hollywood Insider The Little Mermaid, Beetlejuice, Classics Sequel

Photo: ‘The Little Mermaid 2’ and ‘Beetlejuice’

The consensus will agree – there are a lot of movies that should have never received a sequel… a lot of bad movies. What about the good ones… the classics? They may be best left alone as well. The thought of your favorite classic movie brings a smile to your face. Now, think about if the story continued. Would you be disappointed in a solidification of the future? Some of the best movies leave you with a happy ending because your mind is able to visualize what the future may hold for the characters. While it may seem that if you enjoy a film, you’d welcome a sequel, but that isn’t always the case. 

Ariel Wanted to Be “Where the People Are”… Not Return to The Sea

When The Little Mermaid splashed into theaters in 1989, part of the magical ending was having the opportunity to imagine the what the future held for Ariel and Prince Eric, after marrying and finally earning the stoic King Triton’s blessing. The film earned roughly $222 million during its initial worldwide theatrical run, securing its place as a successful Disney animation release. The Little Mermaid is considered one of the strongest pillars of Disney, as Ariel is one of the original Disney Princesses and her titular film has built an empire of intellectual property. In 2000, a direct-to-video animated sequel was released; The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. It centered around the birth of Ariel and Eric’s daughter, Melody. The film received negative reviews, a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a sharp-tongued review from Total Film, ranking the film in 27th place on a list of the 50 worst children’s films of all time. 

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How could a sequel to such a beloved Disney classic crash and burn so badly? Was it because of the 12-year gap between the original and the sequel? More likely, it was due to the fact that The Little Mermaid is a classic and should have been left alone. The world didn’t need tangible evidence of Ariel and Eric’s merbaby, we could have imagined it ourselves. Alternatively, we could have imagined Ariel and Eric as a blissful, childless couple who lived where the people are with an adopted pet crab named Sebastian and a cowardly guppy named Flounder. The only squawk echoing in the walls of their palace may have been Scuttle and his deluded assessments of household items (dinglehopper, anyone?) 

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Don’t Say His Name Three Times! Actually, Don’t Even Say It Twice.

It has been 32 years since Tim Burton directed Beetlejuice, a horror-comedy that instantly crawled into the hearts of viewers everywhere. The Michael Keaton led film is centered on a bombastic, vulgar “ghost with the most” who is recruited by The Maitlands, a recently deceased couple with a dilemma. Their endgame is to rid their former home of the insufferable yuppies who now inhabit it. The film has it’s very own unique, frenetic vibe that has the signature Burtonesque taste we all love. If you can see through the supernatural silliness ala haunted dinner plates and sandworms, it’s easy to see why this film is beloved and enjoyed throughout the year, not just around Halloween. Joining Keaton, the hereafter was complimented by the star power of Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara, and Winona Ryder acting to a soundtrack of Danny Elfman’s genius melodic oddities.

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Beetlejuice: The Musical opened on Broadway in New York City in April 2019. Despite the initial mixed reviews and subsequent success of the Broadway show, the sequel to the film has been shelved. Tim Burton had previously stated that he was only interested in revisiting the story if Keaton was to return, and Keaton’s interest was later confirmed. While there have been rumors, incredible fan art posters, and many whispers in the graveyard, Beetlejuice 2 is not currently in production. Sometimes it is best to listen to your gut- if the project was in demand and worth pursuing, it would power full steam ahead. Leave Beetlejuice to live in the strange purgatory we last saw him in, shrunken head and all, and let Lydia “shake, shake, shake, Senora” with Barbara and Adam in peace. No need to unearth the undead and potentially poison the well. Beetlejuice, may you rest in peaceful chaos… your diehard fans demand it.

To Unearth or Leave Buried? That is the Question for a Sequel to the Classics

The conclusion to this debated topic is clear when considering the examples of The Little Mermaid and Beetlejuice – stop and enjoy the classics. There is no demand for a continuation of a classic film, no need to poke and prod what is already so perfect. Lighting in a bottle shouldn’t be attempted again, as it will likely end in a tragic explosion. Let’s remember the happy, nostalgic feeling of the originals rather than tarnishing the wonderful memories they created. 

By Raquel Kokkoros

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