Monday, October 27, 2008

Lee, Rickman Enter "Wonderland" Set

Christopher Lee has been officially signed on to be in Alice in Wonderland. However, we do not know which role he will play yet.

But we do know who will play the hookah-smoking Caterpillar: Alan Rickman. The British actor worked with Tim Burton in Sweeney Todd, and now seems to have joined the Burton corral of regulars.

Filming has also begun in Culver City, California. Zack Roth (son of Joe Roth, who is producing the film) spoke of the soundstage: "The set itself was insane - the whole soundstage was draped in green-screen material, and there were dozens of motion capture cameras hanging overhead - it seemed like half the crew was there just to figure out how to make all the technologies work together."

Roth also mentioned screenwriter Linda Woolverton's adaptation of the original book and Johnny Depp's appearance:

"Luckily Johnny Depp was working that day, and I got to see him in character. He looked startlingly crazy - Burton’s take on the Mad Hatter was pretty wild. Linda Woolverton adapted the screenplay and I am told added some socio-political context to the film’s narrative."

Roth also reported that Michael Sheen will be playing the grinning Chesire Cat.

"Sweeney Todd" on Blu-ray

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is now available on Blu-ray in North America.

You can check it out on

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Glover in "Wonderland"

Crispin Glover has signed on for Alice in Wonderland. He will be playing the role of the Knave of Hearts.

This is the first time Tim Burton and Crispin Glover have collaborated (though Glover did a parody of Johnny Depp's performance as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the spoof flick Epic Movie).

Glover is no stranger to the performance capture technology which will be used in the film. The actor previously worked in the medium in Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf in 2007.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scream 2008 Recap

Spike TV's third annual Scream Awards took place this past Saturday in Los Angeles and were broadcast on TV on Tuesday.

At the 2008 event, Tim Burton was honored with the Scream Immortal Award, for his "unique interpretation of horror and fantasy."

Burton made a grand appearance to receive his award, complete with appropriate theme music. See a video of his entrance here.

Surprisingly, Winona Ryder, who played key roles in both Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, presented the filmmaker with his award.

Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was also honored. The film won two awards: Best Horror Movie and Best Actor in a Horror Movie or TV Show, thanks to Johnny Depp's hypnotic performance as the murderous barber.

Winona Ryder gives the Scream Immortal award to Tim Burton

All photos (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Elfman To Do "Wonderland"

Danny Elfman confirmed in Hollywood on October 17th that he will be working on Alice in Wonderland.

No official word on him composing the score for Frankenweenie yet, though.

Video courtesy of dlfreak (here's the original page).

Johnny Depp Eats His Hat

Tim Burton talks about his working with Johnny Depp, including their forthcoming collaboration in Alice in Wonderland:

"Nobody plays oddballs better than Johnny and he's loving playing this one.

"He doesn't like to be the same way twice. That's good. It always keeps it fresh and all. He likes the material we have here and he gets it.

"It's nice to have people involved that are fans of the material.

"He actually ate his hat the other day. No word of a lie. He just bit into the brim and chewed."

Depp will, appropriately, be playing the Mad Hatter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Christopher Lee in "Alice in Wonderland"?

Film legend Christopher Lee is just one of many actors who are getting talked about at least a little bit among circles of fans regarding Tim Burton's forthcoming Alice in Wonderland. But a reliable source is hinting that Lee will indeed be in the film.

On the forum of the official website of Christopher Lee, the administrator (Lee's son-in-law), said this:

Mr. Lee will be in this movie but confidentiality agreements prevent me from disclosing his character. I guess we will have to all wait for an official announcement from Disney but I think you all know what the character will be anyway.

Lee has worked with Tim Burton three times before, originally on Sleepy Hollow in 1999, and then Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride in 2005.

He narrated the original poem of The Nightmare Before Christmas written by Burton on the recent DVD release of the film.

Lee was also set to be in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, until his sequence and thus his character was cut while planning in pre-production due to time constraints.

Fans of this deep-voiced thespian will likely rejoice if word of Lee's participation in Alice is true. Until then, we'll have to wait for Disney's official statement.

Tim Burton on "Alice in Wonderland," "Dark Shadows," and More!

Tim Burton took some time from shooting Alice in Wonderland to chat on the phone with Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times. In the detailed and lengthy interview, Burton talks about Alice in Wonderland, the possibility of making a cinematic version of Dark Shadows, Johnny Depp, the latest addition to the "Batman" series, The Dark Knight, his upcoming Spike TV award, and much more.

Here is much of the interview (you can read the full article in its original context here):

I got Tim Burton on the phone the other day while he was on the set of Alice in Wonderland and I had to admit right off the bat that I was surprised that, with the filming just underway, he was taking the time to chat. "Yeah, well, me too," he said in his droll deadpan, and I wasn't sure whether to laugh or apologize and hang up. Then he let me off the hook. "Actually," he said in a sunnier voice, "we're just about to get going so we'll see how things go. Good, I hope."

John_tenniel_alice_in_wonderland I'm guessing things will go quite well for the 50-year-old filmmaker, who seems like the ideal auteur to bring Lewis Carroll's surreal 1865 classic "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" to the screen for a 21st century audience.

Young Aussie Mia Wasikowska will be Burton's Alice, while Johnny Depp is the inspired choice to play the Mad Hatter.

I told Burton that it seems as if Depp (who has other upcoming roles as an Old West hero, a pirate and a vampire) approaches his acting choices the same way a gleeful kid rummages through a trunk of dress-up clothes. The filmmaker let out a loud laugh. "It's true. Yeah we have a big dress-up clothes trunk here. We take it with us wherever we go."

Batman_with_michael_keatonMore on a Depp and "Alice" in a moment, but first: This Saturday night Burton will be at the Scream 2008 Awards at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, an event that in just its third year has become a signature event in sci-fi, comics, fantasy and, yes, horror, which was is its original mandate but is now just part of its genre cocktail. Burton is getting something called the Immortal Award and the Scream people boldly say that Burton has "contributed more to the genres of fantasy, sci-fi and horror than any other filmmaker of his generation," and there's certainly an argument to made that they are completely right. Burton's film visuals -- a sort of cemetery cabaret ethos -- have put him on an short list (Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen spring to mind) of filmmakers who have such distinctive on-screen traits that they become evocative brand names to even casual filmgoers.

Burton will be making quite the dramatic entrance on Saturday (which you can see yourself when the show airs on Spike TV on Oct. 21) but he has a reputation as a fairly shy fellow. I asked him if he was looking forward to the trophy night or dreading it.

"I haven't been to the event but I've seen a bit on TV and it looks quite fun, you know, which in itself is different from most of these kind of shows. It looks like a nice big Halloween party, which is always good. It seems like all the type of people that nobody liked in school all getting together for a nice big party. A prom for the kids that didn't go to prom."

Tim_burton_2006 I told Burton that, for the night, the venue should change its sign to read 'The Geek Theatre' and he laughed again. "That's very good! I like that. I can't use, that, I can't take credit for that." He said he had a better way to sum up the geek and Goth crowd that will attend: "We're all the people on the yearbook pages devoted to "the most likely to disappear before the semester ends and no one will notice..."

Burton was making "Batman" films when the cape genre was still viewed as a campy ghetto by serious Hollywood creators, so it must be interesting for him to watch the fringe entertainment move so squarely to the center of mainstream film and to finally do so with respectable reviews. "It is a different time now, yes. It's strange to me. At the time back in school when everybody tortured you, it didn't seem quite the same. It wasn't fashionable then. It didn't seem viable and vibrant and accepted at the time. But sometimes those things take a while."

With "Alice in Wonderland," the defining pop-culture version of the story for modern American audiences is the 1954 Disney animated adaptation with its little blond Alice in her blue dress with white pinafore. That film was met with acidic reviews by the literary world (especially in England) for its bland and blunted vision of the Carroll classic. Burton is not a fan of the film, either, and, as with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," it appears his mission is to reclaim a children's classic, resharpen its edges and remind everyone that sapping the weirdness out of a tale often renders it flat and forgettable.

Tim_burton_at_wax_museum"It's a funny project. The story is obviously a classic with iconic images and ideas and thoughts. But with all the movie versions, well, I've just never seen one that really had any impact to me. It's always just a series of weird events. Every character is strange and she's just kind of wandering through all of the encounters as just a sort of observer. The goal is to try to make it an engaging movie where you get some of the psychology and kind of bring a freshness but also keep the classic nature of 'Alice.' And, you know, getting to do it in 3-D fits the material quite well. So I'm excited about making it a new version but also have the elements that people expect when they think of the material."

I told Burton he's right, the Disney movie is a meandering tour of a funhouse without any gripping story arc. "Yeah, I know, it's just, 'Oh, this character's weird' and 'Oh, that character's weird.' I can't really recall a version where I felt really engaged by it. So that's the goal, just to try to give it a gravity that most film versions haven't had."

How easy was it to persuade Depp to conjure up yet another enigmatic oddball? "He loves doing that. That's never a problem. He doesn't like to be the same way twice. That's good, it always keeps it fresh and all. And he likes the material we have here and he gets it. It's nice to have people involved that are fans of the material and all."

Is there a plan yet on Dark Shadows, based on the vampire soap opera, also set to star Depp? "Oh I don't know. Take one at time, you know? It's something I'm interested in of course. Definitely. But I'm going to start shooting this one first!"

Johnny_depp_and_tim_burton_on_todd_I asked Burton if it's more than a coincidence that over the past decade his live-action films have often revisited and reimagined existing works, be they literature (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), musicals (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), movies (Planet of the Apes) or television shows (Dark Shadows).

"Hmm. That's interesting. I don't know. I think we're all a product of our upbringing, you know, in a sense. I wasn't a very literary person. I loved movies. What you grow up with is what influences you. Whether you were a reader and there's a lot of books that you sort of want to translate to film or if it's other things that took in. I was definitely of a generation where the things I grew up watching still have impact on me. There's something about exercising that aspect of your personality or working with something that's meant a lot to you. It's just another way of processing ideas and all. So it's not really a conscious decision. I don't open up old 'TV Guides' and sit there and think, 'Hmmmm, 'Sanford & Son', that's the the movie I want to do. I watched that when I was a child...' "

Nightmare_before_christmasBurton said he is ramping up his bravery for the Saturday night event with its hot spotlight and crowd. "I don't do it very often so it's not something I'm very used to. I'm not comfortable in big public situations, but at the same time it's a very nice thing. It's a very nice thing to do. But while it is nice, it's not the thing you think about a lot. For me, it's the people that come up to you on the streets, the people that say something to you in person, something nice and thoughtful, that's so much more interesting than connecting with a sort of staged event. you know? The types of people you grew up with, the people that enjoy certain kinds of movies, there's a connection with people like that. I certainly feel that. I mean, when someone comes up to me on the street and they have one of my drawings as a tattoo on their body, a real tattoo... I mean, that's pretty amazing. That's happened to me a few times."

Then there was a question I had to ask: What did Burton think of The Dark Knight? After a bit of fumbling around for words, Burton said: "I haven't seen it yet. I'm just, you know, busy. I do want to see it. I've heard it's very good. And I'm sure it is very good. Mostly everybody that I know that has seen it has said that it's very good and I take their word for it."

I thought it would be good to change the subject. There was a recent anniversary DVD of Beetlejuice, so I asked Burton how he frames that film in his mind when he looks back on it as both a career and creative moment.

"With that movie, I just remember that back then it was the second film I did and I felt very strange making it because everyone was thinking, 'This movie really has no story and it doesn't move along like a Hollywood movie.' It just felt very funny and strange having the opportunity to make that. I just remember that feeling every day: 'Wow, they're letting me make this, which is really weird.' And it continues to this day, that dynamic. It's still weird."

Seemed like a good place to stop. I thanked for Burton for his time and mentioned that I'm hoping to visit the Alice set soon. "That's great, I'll see you out here! I'll be on the green screen. Just look for a load of green. Take care."

-- Geoff Boucher


Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in a November 2007 photograph by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times.

Illustration by John Tenniel from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Michael Keaton as Batman from the 1989 Tim Burton film, image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Tim Burton in 2006 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, photographed by Ricardo DeAratanha\Los Angeles Times.

Tim Burton in 2006 at the Hollwyood Wax museum, with a waxen Johnny Depp in the background, photographed by Ricardo DeAratanha\Los Angeles Times

Photo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton on the set of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" by Peter Mountain/Dreamworks-Warner Bros.

image from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" courtesy of Disney

Amy Lee Performs "Sally's Song"

In case you missed it a few days ago, Amy Lee was recently on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to promote the new tribute album "Nightmare Revisited." In this video clip, she performs "Sally's Song" from The Nightmare Before Christmas, composed, of course, by Danny Elfman.

Click here for the original YouTube page.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Pirates 4" Rumors Confirmed False

Rumors have been circulating on the Internet regarding the fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series recently, stating that Tim Burton would be directing Johnny Depp would be paid an immensely large sum, and that Sacha Baron Cohen (best known as "Borat," but who also played Pirelli in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) would play Captain Jack Sparrow's brother.

But in case you didn't respond to your gut or head, writer Terry Rossio has confirmed that this is all false.

Rossio posted the following message on a forum:

For the record, none of the recent Pirates 4 rumors have any truth, including the so-called record 50 million dollar payday for Depp.

Some pretty funny stuff, though. Sacha Cohen? Tim Burton? Studios are way too protective of their franchises for that sort of thing.

Rossio was also the screenwriter of the previous three Pirates movies.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bonham Carter and Hathaway in "Wonderland"

Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway will both be in Alice in Wonderland.

Bonham Carter will play the role of the belligerent Red Queen, and Hathaway will play the more placid and kindhearted of the royal sisters, the White Queen. The distinction of having both of these characters suggests that the film will indeed follow the original Lewis Carroll book instead of simply emulating previous cinematic adaptations.

This is the first time Anne Hathaway has collaborated with Tim Burton (though there was talk that she was considered for a role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as well).

Helena Bonham Carter has been in each of Burton's films since Planet of the Apes in 2001.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Burton To Be Honored at "Scream 2008"

Filmmakers Tim Burton and Wes Craven will be honored with awards for their contributions to the horror, fantasy, science-fiction, and comic book genres by Spike TV during "Scream 2008."

The third annual televised event will be broadcast on October 21st at 9/8c on Spike TV.

Fans can vote for this year's other awards at Click that link to participate for free!

Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been nominated in the following categories:

Best Horror Movie
Best Actor in a Horror Movie or TV Show - Johnny Depp
Best Actress in a Horror Movie or TV Show - Helena Bonham Carter
Best Villain - Alan Rickman
Best Director - Tim Burton

Voting ends on Friday, October 17th.

Vote today, and stay tuned for the televised event!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Plenty More "Alice" Set Pics

If you want to see more photos of the set of Alice in Wonderland, click here.

Pictures courtesy of xPirate-Fanx, seen above with Tim Burton.

Michael Sheen in "Wonderland"

Variety has said that British actor Michael Sheen will be in Alice in Wonderland. No word on who he will play, though.

Sheen will also be in the Samuel L. Jackson thriller Unthinkable, and has a role in the forthcoming Ron Howard political drama Frost/Nixon. Sheen was previously in The Queen and The Deal, both of which had him playing former Prime Minister Tony Blair and both of which were directed by Stephen Frears.

"Nightmare Revisited" Now Available

The new Nightmare Before Christmas tribute album, "Nightmare Revisited," is now available.

You can check it out on