Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nine Clips, Three Featurettes, and Behind-the-Scenes Footage from "Sweeney Todd" Online! has posted a whopping nine film clips, three featurettes, and behind-the-scenes footage of Sweeney Todd. The videos on the site feature interviews with the cast and crew on the film, and actual segments from the movie itself. There are also several new high-quality pictures from the movie on the link. I haven't looked at any of the videos myself, as to avoid any potential SPOILERS. But for those of you who just can't wait, there's plenty to offer from this website.

More can be seen and heard on the official website for Sweeney Todd, too, including song excerpts, production notes, a photo gallery, and downloads.
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd.

Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman.

Burton and Depp Seen Christmas Shopping

A report from claim that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were seen Christmas shopping at a "Forbidden Planet" store in London. The store closed its doors from the public to allow the director and the actor to shop movie memorabilia without the public's distractions. The article reported that Depp bought a cuddly Mario doll from the "Super Mario Bros." game franchise.

Burton "Devastated" by "Ripley's" Problems

The Los Angeles Times reported that Tim Burton felt "pretty devastated" by the failure of the development of a film he was going to work on last year, Ripley's Believe It or Not!. Burton had already begun planning locations for shooting the film in China, when Paramount Pictures shut down pre-production due to budget issues. Ripley's was to be a biographical movie ("bio-pic") on Robert Ripley, a cartoonist and filmmaker who traveled the world looking for bizarre oddities and curiosities. The film was to star Jim Carrey in the title role, and reportedly Gong Li, as well. "I know it's a business," Burton said of Ripley's with a frustrated tone of voice. "But for those of us working on the film, you get excited, and it's an art form. They should feel lucky that you treat it like an art form." Shortly after, however, a new project from Paramount came up for Mr. Burton: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Ripley's may still happen someday, but likely not with Burton (since he will be working on Alice in Wonderland and a feature-length, stop-motion animated version of Frankenweenie with Disney in the next couple of years).

The article goes on to talk about Sweeney Todd, but beware of SPOILERS! Approach with caution!: Article.

Helena Preggers

A couple of pictures of Helena Bonham Carter ripe with her second child with Tim Burton have appeared on the Internet. The baby is supposedly due December 7th, 2007.

Burton and Depp Video Interview

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were interviewed by Access Hollywood to promote the upcoming Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In between laughing, the director and actor discuss their partnership, fatherhood, singing, the blood in the film, Preparation H (don't ask; just watch the video) and more:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Update: The Producers of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" Announced

Playbill News has stated that Richard D. Zanuck, Joe Roth with Suzanne and Jennifer Todd will produce Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland at Disney. Roth and the two Todds are first-time Burton collaborators, but Richard D. Zanuck has produced every live-action film by Tim Burton since 2001's Planet of the Apes. The article also stated that production for Alice will commence in January 2008. Burton will not be working on Alice and his stop-motion remake of Frankenweenie simultaneously. Instead, production on the upcoming animated film about a boy and his resurrected dog will begin after Alice. Walt Disney Pictures is expecting production on Alice to be finished by the end of May 2008.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Updates on the New Films

A new article has stated that Linda Woolverton, who wrote the screenplays for the Disney animated features Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, will be penning the script for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie. In addition, both Alice and the stop-motion, feature-length version of Frankenweenie will be shown in theaters in the Disney Digital 3D format. The 3D format has received a reborn interest among many film studios in Hollywood. Several new films and old classics will be released or re-released in the 3D format in the coming years. This year, Tim Burton's brain-child from 1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and his 1982 stop-motion short Vincent (in participating theaters), were shown in 3D.

Shooting for Alice will commence early in 2008 and is set to end production by the end of May that year. Burton will then go on to work on Frankenweenie, also with the Walt Disney Co.


Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter have announced that Tim Burton has signed on with the Walt Disney Co. to make two new film projects: Alice in Wonderland and a full-length, stop-motion version of Frankenweenie.

Alice in Wonderland
, based on the original Lewis Carroll tale, will be shot with a combination of live-action and motion-capture technology. Shooting will begin early 2008. Rumors about Burton adapting the story have been circulating on the Internet for years, but this is certainly the closest thing to an official announcement that has appeared thus far.

The second project announced in the article, also in collaboration with the Walt Disney Co., Frankenweenie, is an adaptation of Burton's very own live-action short film he made while at Disney in 1984. This was the film that made Paul Reubens discover the young director and asked him to make his first feature-length film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, in 1985. Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, hinted that a prominent filmmaker in recent stop-motion features would be working with Disney in the near future. This is likely that film. In the book Burton on Burton, director Tim Burton said that he felt that Frankenweenie could have been a full-length feature film.

More details to come in the near future! Stay tuned!

Hear Burton Talk about "Sweeney Todd" Before "An Evening with Tim Burton: Cinema's Demon Barber"

On Wednesday, November 14th, Tim Burton spoke at the Rose Theater in New York at The Film Society of Lincoln Center's "An Evening with Tim Burton: Cinema's Demon Barber. " At the show, Burton discussed his career in filmmaking and showed clips from his various films spanning over the last two decades. The finale of the evening featured three clips from his upcoming Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The clip reportedly confirmed that the film will be bloody and that Johnny Depp can sing. "Witty, often elegant and always unpredictable, the films of Tim Burton have created a special niche for themselves within contemporary cinema," reads an announcement for the evening. "A born spinner of tall tales, whose subjects have ranged from Martians to Z-list Hollywood directors to, now, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Burton takes audiences places they'd never thought they'd go—and in ways they couldn't have imagined."

Before the show, The Los Angeles Times reports that Burton discussed the songs in the movie musical. Despite cuts, Burton assured that much of the music from the staged musical will be in the movie. "There are 26 songs in it. It's like 70 to 75 percent singing and 80 or 90 percent music — more like 90 percent." Burton also gave an indication that the film will be roughly an hour and forty-five minutes long. An Mp3 interview with Burton can be heard here.

AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Albert Ferreira.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Max Casella interview

The Collective recently interviewed actor Max Casella, who appeared in Ed Wood, by telephone. He talked about working with Burton, having his trailer cleared out by the real Paul Marco, and more. You can read the full interview here!
Speaking of interviews, MTV has one with Jack Nicholson where he badmouths The Dark Knight and the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker. While I wouldn't want to really see Nicholson playing the Joker again at his age, I agree with him that the later movies in the series (including Batman Begins) never "really captured Tim Burton's spirit". What do you guys think?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Entertainment Weekly Covers "Sweeney Todd"

Entertainment Weekly has a huge cover story on the upcoming motion picture from Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The article, written by Steve Daly, calls says that the film is, "dark, desaturated, and visually stunning — and yields some revelations: First, Johnny Depp can actually sing, and second,the movie's got more spurting blood than a season's worth of E.R. Like the [staged musical], Sweeney Todd spins a gruesome tale of vengeance in 19th-century London."

Actor Johnny Depp remarks on bringing Todd and its psychotic, blood-thirsty anti-hero to the big screen. He reports the difficulty of ''taking a character like that and attempting to make people feel for him, at the same time that he's slashing people up. Not easy.'' Nevertheless, Depp remained enthusiastic about the challenge. "How many chances do you get at a musical about a serial killer?''

Helena Bonham Carter, Depp's co-star, who plays Mrs. Lovett in the film, says that the grotesque subplot of the movie "is so sick... I hope we get away with it.'' But director Tim Burton realized the importance of the highly stylized blood and gore effects. The article states that Burton "felt Sweeney should be deliberately grotesque — a Mario Bava gorefest with ballads." ''It just goes with the story,'' Burton says. ''I'd seen different Sweeney Todd productions on stage, and when they skimped on the blood, the production lost something. Everything is so internal with Sweeney that [the blood] is like his emotional release. It's more about catharsis than it is a literal thing.''

Photo by Leah Gallo

On the issue of the leading actors' singing capabilities, Stephen Sondheim felt confidence in their abilities. "'I figured he'd have a light baritone,'' says the composer, now 77. ''You can hear it in his speaking voice. I love him as an actor, and always have. Put those things together, I didn't hesitate for one second.'' Depp astonished by the master composer's words. ''It was a real shock,'' the actor says. ''He said to me early on that the singing was secondary to hitting the notes emotionally.'' Depp continued: ''I didn't believe him.'' He laughs. ''I think he was probably just saying that to make me feel better about what I was about to attempt.'' But Sondheim felt certainty in Depp's ambitious role. ''There are very few people who can act and sing at the same time,'' he says. ''He's one.''

Helena Bonham Carter also spoke of her work in the movie musical. ''I think I had to be righter than right to prove I was right to play Mrs. Lovett. But it had been in my blood. I wanted to be her when I was 13, when the show came out. I went around with a Mrs. Lovett hairdo.'' Unlike Depp, Bonham Carter studied for months with a renowned vocal coach, Ian Adam. ''He was famous for making actors sing who couldn't previously,'' she says. Sadly, Mr. Adam passed away the week filming wrapped.

Bonham Carter is aware of some people's doubts on bringing Mrs. Lovett to the screen effectively and faithfully to the original show. ''I'm sure people will think, Aah, it's because I've slept with Tim. But I didn't sleep with Sondheim. And he ultimately chose me.'' The composer says he watched a dozen or so audition tapes and insists that Bonham Carter's performance was the best. ''Even in a recording studio, wearing a schmatte, she is as beautiful and sexy as they come,'' he says. ''She knew what she was doing, more than the others.''

Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney's crazed cohort, and Sacha Baron Cohen, as Sweeney's rival, Signor Pirelli. Carter: Peter Mountain; Cohen: Leah Gallo.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will be released in U.S. theaters on December 21st, 2007.

More can be read in the article.

Q&A with Johnny Depp, on "Sweeney Todd"

Entertainment Weekly has conducted a question and answer session with Johnny Depp, star of Tim Burton's upcoming Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, on the making of the film. In the interview, Depp says his take on the murderous barber ''makes Sid Vicious look like the innocent paper boy.'' Depp says the wild streak of white hair his character was the result of "this hideous trauma, from being sent away, locked away. That streak of white hair became the shock of that rage." The actor also described the character's eyes as "needed to have experienced too much, you know. That's where the darkness came around them. These heavy rings around his eyes of purple and brown, this kind of awful fatigue and rage. It's like he's never slept."
Photo by Leah Gallo.

Depp also recalls Peter Lorre's performance in the film Mad Love and other horror film actors as being key sources of inspiration. On Lorre's performance, Depp says, "[h]e's unbelievably disturbing. Broken and haunting and sweet. Way ahead of its time, that film and performance. The other sort of God for me is Lon Chaney Sr. Aside from Peter Lorre, he would be the other enormous inspiration. Did you ever see his film The Penalty? It's shocking.... His performance is so heightened and gorgeous. I highly recommend that one."

On the amount of blood and gore in the movie musical, Depp says that he remembers "everyone except [himself] covered in plastic trash bags. There'd be a countdown. Three, two, one... action! And then blammo, you know? The great deluge."

Depp also talks about one of his co-stars, Sacha Baron Cohen (star of Borat, who plays Todd's nemesis, Pirelli). Depp said of Sacha Baron Cohen that "he's kind of today's equivalent to Peter Sellers." When asked how he and his long-time collaborator, director Tim Burton, worked together, Depp described it frankly that they've "never had an argument. The process [on Sweeney] has been as smooth as since way back when. Obviously, you want to come up with a character that you are not going to be embarrassed about. With Tim, I just don't want to let him down. Because, you know, he's a brother. He's my family. So that's one of the scariest sorts of things initially. Just making sure I haven't disappointed Tim. Once we get through that then I can kind of make sure I'm okay with it."

Burton and Depp on the set of Sweeney Todd. Photo by Peter Mountain.

When the interviewer, Steve Daly, said to Depp that he "is going to freak out a lot of pre-pubescent girls with this character," Depp enthusiastically exclaimed, "Ah, finally!"

More of the interview can be read here.

Depp Happy His Daughter Recovering, and The New York Times Discusses "Todd"

Johnny Depp is thankful that his daughter, Lily-Rose, who was seven when a mystery illness struck her last March, is recovering. "To say it was the darkest moment, that's nothing," the actor told Entertainment Weekly. "It doesn't come close to describing it. Words are so small." At the time the illness affected his daughter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, in which Depp plays the title role, was only three weeks into shooting. "I didn't know if I was coming back," he recalls. "I remember talking with [Tim Burton], saying, 'Maybe you need to recast.' "

But Burton and the rest of the crew and cast went on a brief hiatus, allowing Depp to be with his daughter without having to change such a primary casting decision. "We've adjusted his schedule to fit in with his needs," DreamWorks said in a statement at the time. "Everybody's with them in good spirits." Depp and his partner, Vanessa Paradis, are relieved that Lily-Rose, now 8, has made a complete recovery. "Now every single millisecond is a minicelebration, man," Depp says. "Every time we get to breathe in and exhale is a huge victory. She pulled through beautifully, perfectly, with no lasting anything."

Photo by Jeff Vespa/

Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported on the Burton-Depp collaboration, Sweeney Todd. In the article, much of the cast and crew mention the process of bringing the Sondheim musical to the big screen. Production designer Dante Ferretti recalls how Burton acknowledged the importance of having actors perform in physical sets, using computer-generated backdrops and environments minimally, and how the look of the film should be more of a horror movie kind of London than a completely historically accurate Victorian-era London. Ferretti, whose work goes back to collaborating with Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, states that the production team made the film's version of London "a little bit more frightening, more dark, more interesting."

Depp recalls that he never wanted to be a singer, because he felt that singers always get "too much attention." But when offered the role of Sweeney Todd for Burton's cinematic version, Depp, cautiously, accepted. During the filming of the third installment of the Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Depp studied the songs from the musical thoroughly, practicing to and from the sets. Depp says he would drive "two hours to work and two hours back listening constantly, learning the melodies in the car."

Depp also recalls on how classic horror film stars influenced his performance in Todd. Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and, especially, Peter Lorre were sources of macabre inspiration for the actor. Richard D. Zanuck, a producer of Todd, remarked that "Johnny in front of his victims with the razor is almost like a ballet dancer, dancing around them," in the film.

The article also mentions the blood and gore effects of the film, helping bring a stylized touch to the musical tale of the murderous barber. Mr. Zanuck states that the crew had "done tests and experiments with neck slashing, with the blood popping out. I remember saying to Tim, 'my god, do we dare do this?'"

Mike Higham, the music producer of the film, noted how economically Burton conveys his ideas. "He can say three words, and he completely sums up what his vision is," Higham says. "You get those three words and you go."

Burton on the set of Sweeney Todd. Photo by Peter Mountain/Paramount Pictures.