He’s the ghost with the most 4 Stars

Warner Bros. brings Tim Burton’s second feature, Beetlejuice, to 4K UHD Blu-ray with a new (and long overdue) new 4K transfer with Dolby Atmos audio. Unfortunately, that is all that is new in this release.

Beetlejuice (1988)
Released: 30 Mar 1988
Rated: PG
Runtime: 92 min
Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Annie McEnroe, Maurice Page
Writer(s): Michael McDowell (story), Larry Wilson (story), Michael McDowell (screenplay), Warren Skaaren (screenplay)
Plot: The spirits of a deceased couple are harassed by an unbearable family that has moved into their home, and hire a malicious spirit to drive them out.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 70

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 09/01/2020
MSRP: $33.99

The Production: 4/5

Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are a young couple enjoying their staycation in their New England home. After going into town for some art supplies, they are killed in a tragic car accident (in a Volvo, no less). Shortly after they arrive home, they realize they are dead and an annoying family from New York have taken possession of their home. The father, Charles Deetze (Jeffrey Jones), is looking for a replace to relax from the hustle and bustle of the big city, yet his wife, Delia (Catherine O’Hara), a would-be artist, wants to tear down the old house and modernize it with the help of her interior decorator friend Otho (Glenn Shadix). Charles’ goth daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder), is right at home in the old house, spider webs and all. Desperate to get the Deetzes out of their house, the Maitlands try, without much luck, to scare the new owners by having them believe the house is haunted. However, they are largely ignored by the adults in the house, with only Lydia being able to see them. Desperate for help, they unwisely seek the assistance of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a crazed spirit who claims to specialize in bio-exorcism, but in reality is only looking out for himself.

Beetlejuice was director Tim Burton’s second film following his debut with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and was an instant success, largely because audiences really hadn’t seen anything like it before. Michael Keaton as the title character steals the show, improvising most of his dialogue, yet only appearing tin the film for less than 15 minutes total. Burton and Keaton would reteam the following year with Batman, and it is easy to see why fans of the caped crusader feared this team taking on the famed comic book character at first, with Keaton’s performance all over the map (but in a good, manic way) and Burton going for the laughs more often than not. Rumors of a sequel have materialized several times over the years, and the film was adapted into a Broadway musical (not to mention a long-running stage show at Universal Studios).

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

It is fairly well-known that Warner has been milking the same Blu-ray disc with its now soft-looking transfer since 2008, re-releasing the same disc with new packaging and nothing else multiple times. I’m happy to say that Warner’s new 4K scan, appearing here in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio for the first time, is a sight to behold. The HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer includes HDR10 high dynamic range, which heightens the viewing experience even more. This is a highly detailed image, revealing intimate textures like the faux stone-like walls of the house, rotting flesh on Betelgeuse’s face, etc. Colors are more vivid and exaggerated, while gradients have a distinct clarity that was missing on the now 12-year old Blu-ray. Contrast is exceptional, with deep blacks and bright whites that still contain noticeable detail within.

Audio: 4.5/5

Beetlejuice also gets a nice audio upgrade to Dolby Atmos that really helps bring the film to life without being gimmicky. While still a fairly front-heavy presentation, with dialogue clear and understandable from the center channel most of the time, sounds move more fluidly and seamlessly from front to rear, while Danny Elfman’s score sounds more immersive thanks to the added height channels.

Special Features: 2/5

Unfortunately, there are no special features on the UHD disc and Warner has provided the same 2008 Blu-ray with the same rather lackluster “features.”

Three Episodes of “Beetlejuice” Animated TV Series (480i, 12:15 each): A-Ha!, Skeletons in the Closet and Spooky Boo-Tique.

Music-Only Track: Listen to only Danny Elfman’s score and Harry Belafonte’s tunes in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Theatrical Trailer (480i; 1:27)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere. A second insert contains a code for a survey to complete online about the release (which was unavailable at the time of this review).

Overall: 4/5

Warner earns high marks for the updated and upgraded video transfer and new Dolby Atmos mix, but demerits for the lack of any new extras.

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Todd Erwin

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Jake Lipson

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Thanks, Todd.

I am not 4K equipped, so I'll pass on this. I would have double dipped without question if WB had bothered to update the transfer or extras on the Blu-ray too.

Universal's press release for Back to the Future indicates that not only will there be new extras on that, but the Blu-ray transfers are going to be remastered. This is how you do a catalog release, and they will be rewarded with my double dip on that even though I can't use the 4K discs.

It's a shame WB could not treat this film comparably. But I'm sure people with 4K capabilities will love this.
 

darkrock17

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Thanks, Todd.

I am not 4K equipped, so I'll pass on this. I would have double dipped without question if WB had bothered to update the transfer or extras on the Blu-ray too.

Universal's press release for Back to the Future indicates that not only will there be new extras on that, but the Blu-ray transfers are going to be remastered. This is how you do a catalog release, and they will be rewarded with my double dip on that even though I can't use the 4K discs.

It's a shame WB could not treat this film comparably. But I'm sure people with 4K capabilities will love this.
WB does not care about their actual films themselves, all the care about is the revenue they make from merchandising their cash cow titles such as this film.
 

Tommy R

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I’m getting this for the upgraded A/V, and I’m thankful that it seems to have been done to perfection judging by the reviews, but it’s just so crazy how this film hasn’t has ANY special features besides episodes of the cartoon and the trailer. Burton has provided MANY commentaries to his films and he doesn’t seem to be busy at the moment (though he’s not the liveliest commentator TBH, bless his heart).

I cannot think of any other movie that was a hit upon release ON TOP OF remaining in the public consciousness over 30+ years and have NO special edition treatment. There are movies that failed at the box office and are more niche that get way better treatment.
 
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Jake Lipson

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all the care about is the revenue they make from merchandising their cash cow titles such as this film.
Sure, but they're not going to get any new revenue from me on this release because they didn't bother to do a new Blu-ray. So there is money to be made if they put some effort into catalog releases.

If I had 4K setup, the 4K disc would be enough to get me to upgrade, no question. But I don't, so their decision not to remaster the Blu-ray as well cost them a potential sale. That's all I'm saying.
 

darkrock17

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Sure, but they're not going to get any new revenue from me on this release because they didn't bother to do a new Blu-ray. So there is money to be made if they put some effort into catalog releases.
When I said merchandising, I meant from sales of apparel, toys and games, house wear items, and other miscellaneous stuff.
 

darkrock17

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I’m getting this for the upgraded A/V, and I’m thankful that it seems to have been done to perfection judging by the reviews, but it’s just so crazy how this film hasn’t has ANY special features besides episodes of the cartoon and the trailer. Burton has provided MANY commentaries to his films and he doesn’t seem to be busy at the moment (though he’s not the liveliest commentator TBH, bless his heart).

I cannot think of any other movie that was a hit upon release ON TOP OF remaining in the public consciousness over 30+ years and have NO special edition treatment. There are movies that failed at the box office and are more niche that get way better treatment.
WB has never liked this film, as I've stated before they only keep around because they make so much money from merchandise they distribute year after year. If WB really cared about Beetlejuice, it would have as many editions as OZ and GWTW.
 

Tommy R

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WB has never liked this film, as I've stated before they only keep around because they make so much money from merchandise they distribute year after year. If WB really cared about Beetlejuice, it would have as many editions as OZ and GWTW.
Just curious, since I’m unaware of WB’s stance, why don’t they like this film?
 

Jake Lipson

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Yeah, I see no evidence that they don't like it and have no idea what Andrew is talking about here. I think they just decided to save money by repackaging an adequate Blu-ray edition instead of putting in the extra effort to make a great one. That's not dislike. That's laziness. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't have put out the 4K either. Warner Bros. Theatrical Group just spent millions of dollars to produce a Broadway musical version which had its run cut a bit short by the pandemic. That doesn't seem like something they would do for a title they don't believe in. Everything I've heard from the show was terrible, but that's not really the point; it still existed and was a major investment for them.

I also think there is a clear difference between the level of popularity for Beetlejuice and the level of popularity for The Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind. Very few films ever can claim to have the same level of lasting cultural impact as those two do. But that doesn't mean Beetlejuice wasn't a hit. It doesn't need the number of editions that those two movies have. It would obviously sell less than those. But a reissue 12 years after the last disc, when something superior clearly could be made, was certainly worth doing. It's a shame that WB instead did a box of junk edition for Amazon when that effort would have been better spent on updating the Blu-ray. Oh well.
 
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Tino

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Yeah, I see no evidence that they don't like it and have no idea what Andrew is talking about here. I think they just decided to save money by repackaging an adequate Blu-ray edition instead of putting in the extra effort to make a great one. That's not dislike. That's laziness. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't have put out the 4K either.
Exactly! :thumbsup:
 

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Also Beetlejuice was about as successful in theaters as The Goonies which also was also just released in 4K with no new extras. They both made about $150 million in 2020 dollars domestically. I think WB likes both films just fine despite not giving them new special features. At least Beetlejuice got an Atmos upgrade.
 

Malcolm R

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@Todd Erwin

Thanks for the review, but the font color makes it nearly unreadable for those of us that might be using the "HTF Dark" option (in Dark, below text body is dark gray print on black background). Are you able to choose a different font color?

1599145649554.png
 
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Todd Erwin

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@Todd Erwin

Thanks for the review, but the font color makes it nearly unreadable for those of us that might be using the "HTF Dark" option. Are you able to choose a different font color?

View attachment 77929
I've forwarded your feedback to the personnel who design our review template, as I do not know what color to change the default font to.

If you have not already done so, I suggest posting this in the Forum Feedback and Help section. Include in your post if this the only review you are seeing this issue in.
 
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Craig M Russell

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To me, special features are increasingly irrelevant as part of the value of a disc. When I first started buying DVDs in 1997, the internet was tiny, slow, and inconvenient to access, so it was actually useful and informative to get this treasure trove of info. Now, if I want “extra features” to give me the background for Beetlejuice, I can find as many as I want on my phone more easily than navigating awkward menus.

Even something like a director’s commentary can now be achieved through the director podcasting a track you can play along with the film (some of the actors from The Office are doing this right now with their show episode by episode).

Obviously, no one interested truly top quality home theater quality presentation is going to stream rather than buy discs (at the moment). And I’m always a sucker for a pretty box or cover. But as for the extras, they can keep em.
 

SimonTC

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It just seems odd that people are complaining about a 4K release not including an upgraded Blu-ray.
They are trying to sell a 4K UHD disc. Did people complain when a DVD in a combo wasn't similarly upgraded on the Blu-ray + DVD packs?
Usually when the corresponding Blu-ray is upgraded, there is a separate release - such as the Back to the Future example.
It's not cheap to remaster a Blu-ray either, so I don't blame them for not spending the money.
 
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Craig M Russell

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Right, and a lot of the time whether the blu is remastered probably has to do with questions about whether or not there’s a box of the old pressing sitting in some warehouse somewhere that they’re trying to use up.

I have a 1080p projector, but I still own a 4k player to take advantage of the better transfers. Since I know I’ll upgrade eventually, why wait?