Tim Burton is one busy fella. Not only is the director putting the finishing touches on the big-screen adaptation of Dark Shadows, but he’s also helming a stop-motion, 3D expansion of his short Frankenweenie and serving as executive producer on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. MTV caught up with Burton and got the details on the projects he’s working on this year.
He said that not every member of the Dark Shadows cast — it includes Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Chloe Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter — was familiar with the source material, a gothic soap opera that aired daily on ABC from 1966 to 1971. However, they quickly caught on to its “strange vibe”:
It’s got such a strange vibe. And it’s not something that a lot of people necessarily know. You’re trying to do a weird soap opera. I felt really lucky, because the cast is really good. People like Michelle [Pfeiffer] grew up watching it. Some of the cast knew about it. Some didn’t, but they were all game for it — getting into the weird spirit of what Dark Shadows was. It has a weird sense of heightened melodrama. There was a generation of us who would run home from school to watch it. That’s probably why we were such bad students. We should have been doing homework; we were watching Dark Shadows instead. It was hard to put into words the tone it was. It had a weird seriousness, but it was funny in a way that wasn’t really funny. We just had to feel our way through it to find the tone. We didn’t do any real rehearsals, because the cast all came in at different times. But there was an old photo of the [original] cast which I always remembered, so a couple days before shooting, we got the whole cast together to take a similar shot so everyone could see each other and get that vibe from doing a group photo. That helped set the tone more than anything.
The director also explained that the film deals with a bit of time travel, is set mostly in 1972 (although partially in the 1700s), and mostly takes place in the house. He also skipped 3D for this project because it just didn’t feel right for the era. “It’s the ’70s, man,” Burton said. “Only Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror was in 3-D. That’s the only one I remember from that time.”
Meanwhile, Collider scanned the following image from Entertainment Weekly showing Depp as Barnabas Collins and Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.
Burton also talked about the ongoing process of bringing Frankenweenie to the big screen. The director first told this story as a black and white live-action featurette when he was working for Disney, and it directly led to his firing.
“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “The opportunity to do it in black-and-white and 3D really fits the story. For me, it’s the heart of the story that we’ve gotten to go back to and expand. It’s more of a House of Frankenstein kind of situation now, but also it stays with the same thing. It taps into the politics of other children that you remember from school. It’s still intimate, though. It’s still the basic story with a few more elements.”
When not directing his own pictures, Burton is also lending a hand to Timur Bekmambetov on his adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. “With Lincoln, Timur is great,” Burton said. “I’m there just to support it. It’s a project I really liked and just wanted to see.”
Speaking of Grahame-Smith, Burton confirmed he asked the writer for some ideas on a new Beetlejuice movie, but said that they haven’t talked about concepts since then.