Police probe thefts of large props from set of ‘Beetlejuice 2’ in East Corinth

Police probe thefts of large props from set of ‘Beetlejuice 2’ in East Corinth
two angles of an abstract hand-like sculpture
A roughly 150-pound abstract art statue that was stolen from the set of “Beetlejuice 2” in East Corinth on July 17 is shown from two angles. Photo courtesy Vermont State Police

Thieves have reportedly struck the movie set of “Beetlejuice 2” in East Corinth, making off with two large props.

Film crews have been in the town in recent days as they make a follow-up to the 1988 “Beetlejuice” movie. In the late 1980s, production crews also were in East Corinth to shoot the original “Beetlejuice” film.

Director Tim Burton and his crew reportedly had one sequence left to film in Vermont when it wrapped July 13 as a result of the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike, according to Seven Days.

State police received a report Friday at 12:35 a.m. that someone had driven a pickup truck to a large lamppost on Village Road, which had a distinctive pumpkin decoration on top, according to a state police release. 

The person removed the lamppost from its base, put it into the back of the truck — reported to be an older-model GMC pickup with unknown license plates — and covered it with a tarp, the release stated. The vehicle then sped quickly away, according to the release. 

Then, the release stated, at around 4 p.m. on Monday, movie officials reported that thieves had stolen a roughly 150-pound abstract art statue from the area of a cemetery. That theft is believed to have occurred between Thursday, July 13, at 5 p.m. and Monday at 11 a.m.

Adam Silverman, a state police spokesperson, said Thursday that he didn’t have a more exact location of the cemetery.

“It came in essentially as the perpetrators’ vehicle had parked in the vicinity of the cemetery and had walked to the vicinity of where the sculpture was, but we don’t have any more specifics than that,” he said.  

Silverman said state police have reached out to movie officials to get an estimated value of the thefts.

He also said the items could appear online on movie memorabilia collectors’ sites, seeking buyers. 

“Certainly we encourage people to keep their eyes out,” Silverman said. “By putting it out to the public, we hope to generate some leads.” 

Read the story on VTDigger here: Police probe thefts of large props from set of ‘Beetlejuice 2’ in East Corinth.

Like a ghost cloaked in NDAs, Beetlejuice 2 quietly begins production in East Corinth

The exterior of the masonic lodge in East Corinth served as Miss Shannon’s School for Girls in Beetlejuice. Photo by Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

Say “Beetlejuice” three times, and you summon the man himself. 

But in East Corinth, where production on the movie Beetlejuice 2 has begun, locals are hesitant to say the word, bound to secrecy by non-disclosure agreements.

“It all kind of happens quietly,” Rick Cawley, chair of the Corinth selectboard, said of the film. “I’ve only heard about it on a need-to-know basis.”

In the late ’80s, a film crew descended on East Corinth to shoot the original Beetlejuice. The resulting cult classic depicted Barbara and Allen Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin), who die in a car crash and are left to inhabit their home as ghosts. The Deetz family — including Lydia, a goth teen played by Winona Ryder — buys the home, and the Maitlands attempt to haunt them out of the property. Along the way, the ghostly husband and wife solicit the not-so-helpful help of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), ultimately finding peace with their erstwhile enemies the Deetzes.

Exterior shots in the movie were filmed in the rural Orange County town of about 1,500 residents. A now-shuttered general store, a white Masonic lodge, and a prop covered bridge all featured in the Tim Burton gothic comedy. 

The sequel will feature original cast members Ryder, Keaton and Catherine O’Hara, as well as new additions Justin Theroux, Jenna Ortega and Willem Defoe. Burton will again direct. Primarily filmed in England, the production will shoot in Corinth later this summer, according to Cawley.

On foot, this reporter trekked through the hills of Corinth, hunting for details about the new movie. But locals, roped into the production themselves, stayed mum. (A publicist for Warner Brothers declined to comment.) 

After a few knocks on the locked door of the East Corinth Congregational Church, a space the production has been using for storage, the Rev. KellyAnn Donahue poked her head out. She said she couldn’t talk about the film.

Some residents quietly pointed to the community-supported ski hill Northeast Slopes, suggesting a volunteer there may have some involvement in the new production. The barn-red covered bridge, built for the first Beetlejuice, even found a home at the ski area, where it houses part of hill’s T-bar. But the volunteer, muzzled by a legal “pinky swear,” politely declined to talk. 

No amount of shoe-leather reporting in 90-degree weather seemed enough to overcome the Hollywood gag order. Atop a green hillside on the way into town, the production team this week toiled away under the boiling sun, erecting what appeared to be a house — the house, in fact, of Beetlejuice fame. But “no trespassing” signs blocked the way up the hill, past the crew’s shiny cars with Massachusetts plates. 

Remnants of the original Beetlejuice reveal themselves in East Corinth, even if answers to a reporter’s inquiries do not. A still from the film — a car bursting through the side of a covered bridge — is tacked to a stop sign on Chicken Farm Road. A poster outside Corinth’s white Masonic lodge, transformed in the movie to Miss Shannon’s School for Girls, shows another frame. 

Beetlejuice tourists descend on Corinth from as far away as California to see the sights, according to Jennifer Spanier, library director at the town’s Blake Memorial Library. Superfans find their way into the library, looking for more lore. 

“I’ll be like, ‘I bet they’re a Beetlejuice person,’ because maybe they’re dressed a little goth, or they just look like they aren’t from here,” Spanier said. 

She, too, has been sworn to secrecy due to peripheral involvement in the sequel. 

“It’s called ‘Operation Blue Hawaii’ or something like that,” Spanier said of the production’s covert dealings. “It’s a code name.”

Finally, after all that marching up and down East Corinth’s humble main street, the story seemed destined to break open: a truck, idling outside the library, with a director’s clapboard stenciled to the door. The crew!

This intrepid gumshoe sidled up to the driver’s side window, gesturing inquisitively at the man eating french fries inside. He lowered the window. 

Sixteen years in the business, and the man had encountered few places as … quiet … as East Corinth. 

“This is like no man’s land,” he said. He’d parked beside the library to get some Wi-Fi — cell signal being finicky at best. “There’s nothing to do around here. At all.”

The man, from Massachusetts, declined to provide his name, explaining that he’d signed an NDA, and his union contract prevented him from talking to the press. But under the cloak of anonymity, he spoke with candor — not about the film, but about the sleepy hamlet it had brought him to.

“Unfortunately, it’s Corinth. That’s how you say it, right?” he said, emphasizing the second syllable. “There’s only one store in town.” 

Asked how he imagines the town will handle the hubbub when shooting finally begins, he chuckled. 

“It’ll be a circus.”

No longer operational, an East Corinth store, which featured in Beetlejuice, as seen on June 1, 2023. Photo by Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

Rick Cawley, chair of the Corinth selectboard, recalled the first Beetlejuice back in the 80s.

“Everybody was interested to say the least,” he remembered of the East Corinth shoot. The production crew erected a faux house and manufactured a barn-red covered bridge. 

Early in the original film, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis fall through the bridge, dying and becoming the film’s central ghosts in the process. 

Strange as it may sound for a famous Tim Burton production to appear in the roughly 1,500 person Orange County town, Cawley said Beetlejuice wasn’t a total surprise. The frequently photographed East Corinth village epitomizes quaint Vermont town with its white-steepled church and Holsteins on the hillside. Plus, The Survivors, a 1983 comedy featuring Robin Williams and Walter Matthau, filmed in Corinth a few years prior, Cawley said. That production even enlisted the help of his husky-mix, though the dog didn’t feature in the final film.  

When Beetlejuice came to town, it was “just a little blip,” Cawley said, though the film struck a chord with a certain population in town. “A generation younger than me were kind of enthralled because it was this quirky, cool movie.”

More recently, Cawley got a call from a location scout for Warner Brothers, inquiring about shooting the sequel. The production has since gotten Corinth’s road crew, fire chief and constable involved in pre-production, assisting with traffic control and prop building. 

“We like getting on the map,” he said. “It’s kind of cool.”

In small towns, periods of time are marked ‘before’ and ‘after’ big events. In Corinth, one of those events was the filming of Beetlejuice, Amy Peberdy, a town resident, said. 

“Now all we have is, ‘Remember the Covid years,’ ” she joked. 

Peberdy moved to town the year after production on Beetlejuice wrapped. Locals had stories of famous actors walking into their kitchens to change into their costumes, she said. “It was that kind of production.”

Over the years, Beetlejuice-specific tours have come through town, Peberdy said, and posters around town labeled the various sights from the movie.

“People would go up to the signs and ‘Ahh,’ ” she recalled, “like they were some kind of religious relic.”

Recently, Peberdy has spotted action on the hilltop where the Beetlejuice house stood: big equipment, earth moving. She expects a forthcoming call for extras, though shooting has not begun. 

Now residing at Northeast Slopes, the red covered bridge was built as a prop for Beetlejuice. Photo by Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

In the Tim Burton-directed film, Barbara and Allen Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin), die in a car accident, and are left to inhabit their home as ghosts. The Deetz family — including Lydia, a goth teen played by Winona Ryder — buys the home, and the Maitlands attempt to haunt them out of the property. Along the way, they solicit the not-so-helpful help of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), ultimately finding peace with their erstwhile enemies the Deetzes.

Shot in characteristic Burton style, the movie is spooky-but-whimsical, often featuring gothic special effects that appear consciously low-budget. 

Read the story on VTDigger here: Like a ghost cloaked in NDAs, Beetlejuice 2 quietly begins production in East Corinth.