Monday, September 21, 2009
It's Alive! "Frankenweenie" Rises from the Dead!
Tim Burton's stop-motion animated, feature-length adaptation of his 1984 live-action short Frankenweenie is coming! And executive producer Don Hahn has provided some details at Disney's D23 Expo to SciFi Wire:
1. It will be in black and white. An animated movie in black and white? Was this not a hard sell? "It was and it wasn't," Hahn said. "I think now, with Tim working at the top of his craft, the top of his game, on movies like Alice in Wonderland, I think Dick Cook really felt like if you're going to take a risk on anybody, why can't it be Tim Burton? A Tim Burton movie in black and white based on Frankenstein, how cool is that? Dick was very supportive of it." [Dick Cook was the chairman of the Walt Disney Co. until a few days ago. It is unclear whether his abrupt departure from the company will affect the film.]
Don Hahn has been in the animation industry for a while.
2. The new script will include more Frankenstein and more of the dog. And the screenplay is finished, Hahn confirmed at the press conference. "It's Frankenstein mixed with a boy-and-his-dog story, very much like the original one," Hahn said in an exclusive interview after the conference. "What's great is Tim grew up in Southern California, in Burbank, and the movie itself kind of takes that California suburban look at a monster movie story. I think that's what we're trying to do."
3. The Frankenstein family tree is growing. Bigger movie means more characters. "There are a lot of great new characters in it, really great new characters," Hahn said in the exclusive interview. But who will be among the cast? "It's the ensemble. It's the Tim Burton ensemble." Many of the actors from Burton's 1984 short film are still alive, such as Shelley Duvall, but which collaborators of Burton's may be on board? "The neat thing about Tim is he can pretty much call up anybody he needs and they'll be happy to work with him," Hahn said.
4. Now Tim Burton can do what he wants. Disney wasn't very happy with the original Frankenweenie, deeming it too scary for children. But now, with Burton's bankability, Disney is letting the creative filmmaker unleashed (relatively speaking). "Unlike Tim's recent stop-motion movies, he's designing the characters himself," Hahn said in this exclusive interview. "So you really get kind of the hand of the artist in it and get to see Tim's work itself. It's Tim Burton at his best. I think that's why he leapt at it, because when he started out making movies, it was his first choice for a live-action movie. I think he felt like, 'Gee, I wish I could've made a feature back then.' So now to come back and revisit the material is pretty fun for him, I think." Indeed, Burton has been wanting to make a feature version of Frankenweenie for 25 years -- a quarter of a century.
5. It has begun. And it's set for a 2011 release. "I'm not sure it's a 90-minute film," Hahn said. Burton and his team have already built maquettes. "We're underway on it, and I think the most important thing is it has to be a good movie," Hahn said. "So if it's not ready for 2011, then we'll let it drift into the next year, but we're up and running already." Like Corpse Bride before it, Frankenweenie is entering production in London. "The primary reason to go there is Tim lives there, and there's a great group of talent over there also that is really into stop-motion animation," Hahn said. (So a 2012 release date is not unrealistic.)
More exciting news to come in the future! Stay tuned!