Saturday, October 30, 2010

'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Release Date Announced

ScreenCrave has announced that the current release date for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is June 22nd, 2012.

The 20th Century Fox film is based on the book of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, and will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton.

Elfman on 'Batman,' Prince

In an interview with MTV News, Danny Elfman discusses his 25-year-long collaboration with Tim Burton, and talks about the role of Prince in the Batman film:

MTV NEWS: How have things changed in the way you score films, from "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" to "Alice and Wonderland"?

DANNY ELFMAN: It’s the same general process. I am still trying to lay it all down and I am going to have to play it for the director and, in that case, the producer. The difference is that I had a choice of two string sounds in '88. Strings long, strings short, and that was it. Now, of course, I can choose between many, but the idea of the assembly of it is not that different. But sonically, it really is the difference of a very cheap early blue-screen effect, where they were just trying to figure out how to put a guy swinging a sword in the screen with a dinosaur, and today, where it’s a lot more seamless.

The intention is all the same, but the technology is radically different. And it’s all there, I just decided, "F--- it. Put it out there." And that’s weird. I am a very, very private person, and there was a lot of arm-twisting. It’s kind of like letting people into that side of me. It’s a great leap forward — let’s put it that way. If you would've asked me a couple years ago if I would do it, I would’ve never even had remotely considered it — just the same way I would never be on Facebook. I’ll be the last person to not be on Facebook. I have no desire to share myself.

MTV: Ah, but for the film score nerds out there like me, this is a dream come true.

ELFMAN: That’s why I am opening myself up, and I made those exceptions — because with Facebook, I don’t care if there are people who are interested in my life. I am not interested in sharing my life. But I was a film geek, and I have a soft spot for film geeks or film music geeks. And this is different. This isn’t about what movie I saw and what I am doing tomorrow and where I went this weekend. This is about the work, and the argument is, this is something I should be able to share with those people who are very much like myself, who are actually interested beyond the personal geek side, which I can still keep as private as I want. The process side I know.

MTV: So what finally convinced you to go through with it?

ELFMAN: I’ll give you the exact argument that I made. I asked myself, "Is there anybody that I would be that way about if there was a box set where I would want every word, everything they ever wrote, every demo, and every idea?" I’m thinking, "No, there isn’t," but then I thought, "Oh no, wait a minute — what if Bernard Herrmann had a longer career with [Alfred] Hitchcock? What if he’d done 13 films of Hitchcock? Oh my God, over 25 years? I’d kill for that!" There’s nothing he would’ve done that I wouldn’t have wanted a piece of. I would have wanted anything. I would want to see scribbles on a napkin, I would have wanted to hear him grunting in a microphone... So when I thought that way, I said, "Okay, that’s how I feel about Bernard Herrman. So I guess as crazy as it seems to me, I should imagine that there are other people out there who care about what I do, even though I think they are silly for caring about what I do." There it is. There was my logic leap.

MTV: Let's talk about "Batman." What do you remember most about working on that score?

ELFMAN: For "Batman"... You know, that is the craziest story of all, of the whole quarter-century. There is quite a bit about it in the book in detail, but this is the really, really short version... It’s such a nutty story, the development of that [and] the powers-that-be wanting me to collaborate and to co-write the score with Prince.

MTV: What?! Co-write the score with Prince? I didn't know that!

ELFMAN: Having to step down, and refusing to do that — it was the roughest decision, still, in my entire career. Nothing has come close to having to potentially walk away from the biggest opportunity in my lifetime, and then having it come round full circle back to me. It was the most depressing feeling, like an "I’ve blown it, I’ve f---ed up my life" moment, followed by the most empowering "I did this for a reason and it's come back to me and now I can do the things I wanted to do in the first place" moment.

MTV: How did Tim react to them wanting Prince to co-write?

ELFMAN: It was a rough thing, but Tim didn’t have power back then to call all the shots for himself. "Beetlejuice" and "Pee-Wee" weren’t enough to make him a power player, so there were a lot of different personalities involved. I had major convincing to do on so many levels, a lot of people wanted me off the score — and I have to add, for good reason. I had never done a big movie before, I had never done a drama before, and I had never done an action film, so I was totally and completely unproven. I don’t think they were even unreasonable for wanting somebody else to do the score, but it was like a defining moment for myself in terms of "How far am I willing to go to keep my identity in mind and to do it the way I think it needs to be done?"

'Superman Lives' Costume Tests

Visual and makeup effects artist Steve Johnson has posted 22 images revealing some costume tests for Tim Burton's ill-fated project, Superman Lives. Here is just a sample. You can see all 22 images in Johnson's Facebook photo album:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video: Burton, Elfman Reflect on 'Nightmare Before Christmas'

A Halloween treat for you all. From MTV News, a video of Tim Burton and Danny Elfman reflecting on the music of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and how much Elfman could relate to Jack Skellington:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

'The Nightmare Before Christmas'... in 4D?!

If you're in Los Angeles, prepare to see Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas as you've never seen it before... in 4D!

Broadway World reports that for a special engagement from October 21st until October 31st, the El Capitan Theatre will show the animated cult classic in Disney Digital 3D with additional "sensory effects" to complete the 4D experience, said Lylle Breier, senior vice president of worldwide special events for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Breier said, "As always, the El Capitan is your ‘Nightmare' headquarters, and this year, our guests will be introduced to the magic of 4-D. The film will be presented in Disney Digital 3-D, and there will be exciting sensory effects for our guests to experience at the same time - including wind, snow, fog, and much more. It's a way of seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas like never before for our loyal customers who have made a tradition out of seeing this Disney classic here every year."

The engagement kicks off on Thursday October 21 at 7:00 pm with opening night festivities hosted by Disney producer Don Hahn. There will be ghoulish treats in store for those who attend that evening.

The film screens daily at 10:00 am, 12:15 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:45 pm, 7:00 pm, and 9:15 pm. Special late night Halloween weekend shows will be given at 11:15 pm Fridays and Saturdays only.

Tickets can be purchased at the El Capitan's official website.

Disney's Soda Fountain and Studio Store, located adjacent to the El Capitan Theatre, joins in the Halloween spirit by offering a special "Pumpkin King Dinner" on select days, which includes dinner, ghoulish cupcake decorating, a commemorative photo and a special gift. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

Breier continued, saying, "We're delighted to be bringing Nightmare Before Christmas back to the El Capitan Theatre in a new and exciting way using both glorious Disney Digital 3-D and our special brand of 4-D for the first time ever. Our guests will get closer than ever to Halloweentown's beloved Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, as he attempts to take over the Christmas holiday. Each year brings new screams of delight from our audiences, and they love being able to see their favorite Tim Burton characters in a whole new way. The film grows more popular every year with moviegoers and we're very excited to continue our Halloween tradition."

Tim Burton Retrospective in Toronto: Press Release

The TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto will be the third of four locations to host the massive Tim Burton retrospective, which was first on display at the MoMA and then in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.

The exhibition will run at TIFF from November 26th, 2010 until April 17th, 2011, when the retrospective will move to the LACMA in Los Angeles. Tickets go on sale October 26th.

Here is the official press release, which describes the vast array of artifacts and artworks which will be on display, as well as the films of Tim Burton and films that have inspired him. For more information, visit the official website of the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Here's a general overview:

Film Programmes
The film retrospective presents Burton’s cinematic oeuvre, from Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) to Alice in Wonderland (2010). Audiences will have at least two opportunities to see each of the films, and one of the screenings will be double-billed with a film that has influenced, inspired and intrigued Burton as a filmmaker.

Burton Blitz
To celebrate the opening of Tim Burton, Burton’s films will screen back-to-back on the weekend of November 26 to 28 in the ultimate endurance test of unadulterated Burton love. From Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) to Alice in Wonderland (2010), follow the evolution of one of the most creative visionaries of modern movies in a single marathon event.

Exclusive Engagements
Starting November 25, 2010, an exclusive engagement of Burton’s defining film, Edward Scissorhands (1990) will be presented, followed by a holiday engagement of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Exclusive engagements will run for at least one week.

Double Bills
Burton’s 14 feature films as director plus two as producer will have a double bill screening with a film that has influenced, inspired and intrigued him as a filmmaker. All films are directed by Tim Burton unless otherwise noted.

* Alice in Wonderland (2010) followed by Desperate Living (John Waters, 1977)
* The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni,1928) followed by Batman (1989)
* 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Richard Fleischer, 1954) followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
* Ed Wood (1994) followed by Bride of the Monster (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1955)
* Marty (Delbert Mann, 1955) followed by Edward Scissorhands (1990)
* Gojira (Ishiro Honda, 1954) followed by Mars Attacks! (1996)
* Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) followed by The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
* First Men in the Moon (Nathan Juran, 1964) followed by Planet of the Apes (2001)
* Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958) followed by Sleepy Hollow (1999)
* Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin, 1955) followed by Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
* Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963) followed by James and the Giant Peach (Henry Selick, 1996)
* Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965) followed by Batman Returns (1992)
* Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox,1973) followed by Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
* The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) followed by Corpse Bride (with Mike Johnson, 2005)
* The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947) followed by Big Fish (2003)
* 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963) followed by Beetlejuice (1988)

Weekend Family Activities

Celebrating the imaginative and creative works of Tim Burton, TIFF will host a wide variety of Burton-themed drop-in and registered workshops. Starting November 27, every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, parents and children can drop by to participate in the following free activities. Age recommendation: 8 and up

Crafty Characters – Create your own Burton-inspired creatures and characters from quirky parts, pieces and craft supplies.
Animation Station – Design and bring to life a favourite toy or creature through the magic of stop-motion animation.
Be in the Scene – Through the wonder of green screen technology, immerse yourself in the stunning sets of Tim Burton’s films.

Registered Workshops – Age recommendation: 12 and up

December 4 and 5
Tall Tales – Work with a professional screenwriter to develop your simple script idea into a magical masterpiece.

December 11 and 12
Micro Set Construction – Learn to build small sets (stop-motion appropriate) in the style of Tim Burton.

December 26 to 30
3 Days to Make a Movie (Live Action) and 3 Days to Make a Movie (Stop Motion) – Participants will work as a team to script, storyboard, set design, prop design, costume/craft, edit and screen a short film in 3 days of fun, fantastical filmmaking.

January 8 and 9
Quirks & Chords – Learn how to enchant a listener by exploring and emulating the musical stylings of Burton's longtime musical collaborator Danny Elfman.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Fox Wins "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" reports that Twentieth Century Fox won the rights to a big-screen adaptation of the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in a heated auction against other major studios, including Sony, Paramount, Summit, and Universal. Tim Burton will be producing the film, Timur Bekmambetov will be directing, and the film will be in 3D. (It has not been stated whether the film will be shot in 3D or whether it will be converted to the format in post-production.) Production is scheduled to begin in March.

Deadline had this to say about the auction:

"As of yesterday, Sony and Universal and Paramount and Summit and Fox were all in hot pursuit. But Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos really kicked it up a notch. When Tim and Timur and their entourage of reps came to the Fox lot to present the project (the pair used their own money to option the book earlier this year), they were met with a huge banner at the gate. It had the title treatment of the script and was emblazoned, "Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov present Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". At their parking spot were signs saying “Parking For Vampire Hunters Only: park at your own risk,” and so forth. There were bloody footprints lining the walkway and stairs leading from their cars to the meeting in Building 88 with images from the book and lines from the script. As if that were not enough, there also were bloody axes strewn about, and a bugle player in a Confederate uniform playing "Taps" as the filmmakers walked to the meeting. OK, not quite Paramount's goat gambit for Sacha Baron Cohen. But this is pretty cool, too. Once inside the room, Fox listened to the filmmakers' pitch -- and then gave its own which included meetings with production and marketing execs. Fox has existing relationships with both filmmakers -- Jim with Timur dating back to when the studio talent-spotted him in Russia and released his first movie Night Watch worldwide; and Tom obviously has worked with Tim Burton in the past."

Friday, October 01, 2010

Elfman, Burton on Music Box, "Batman"

To promote the 25th anniversary music box, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman reminisced over the making of the now iconic Batman score. Click here to view the video.

Also, Danny Elfman recently gave an interview for ArtBeat of the New York Times, discussing the celebratory collector's gift:

Q: How long does it take to put something like this together and how long ago did you get started?

A: It was some months ago. My agent and my assistant spent a month sifting through a million hours of demos, work tapes, cassette tapes. I unfortunately have been almost bizarrely committed to not archiving anything. I kept nothing. And when we started getting into it, I realized I didn’t even have half of my soundtrack albums. So we started chasing down albums on eBay, literally.

Q: Why weren’t you saving any of this?

A: It’s like for some weird reason, once I finish a project, it doesn’t exist to me anymore. They literally had to go through storage rooms, sifting through cardboard boxes filled with junk, until they came up with anything that looked like tapes, DATs, CDs, reel-to-reel stuff. What amounted to zero effort of saving anything for a quarter-century. Now I’m becoming the other way around. Now I really want to get ahold of stuff, I want to organize it. I want to have shelves.

Q: So if you weren’t hanging on to these materials, where were you finding them?

A: My old work tapes just got dumped into boxes and put in the back room. I had six, seven storage rooms throughout the city. Places I haven’t gone into in decades. My agent used his tentacles in the underground film music world to try to find versions of things that didn’t exist anywhere. It was happening above and below the surface. Lots of detective work.

Q: How far back were you searching? Like, Oingo Boingo, “Bachelor Party”?

A: They were finding everything, but they were only bringing to me the stuff that was connected with Burton. Now that my brain is into that mode, I’m going to have them continue. Because now I’ve got a good, new storage space, and when you get a new space you get motivated. It really is a better idea just to know where stuff is.

Q: And what kinds of things were you finding?

A: It’s a mixed bag of work tapes, demos, and in those demos, ideas that didn’t make it into movies. There’s a whole stretch of a “Batman” work tape, of “Batman” music that never made it into the movie. On the one hand, that was cool for me to listen to. I’d forgotten I had all these ideas that never survived. On the other hand, I was horrified that 20 years ago, demos sounded really bad. I’m in the middle of writing this huge disclaimer, trying to explain what a work tape is, and the difference of what I was working with 20 years ago. Between “Beetlejuice” and “Alice in Wonderland,” you can hear, oh, O.K., big difference.

Q: When Tim first started working with you, were you looking for a way that you could make the transition to scoring films?

A: I wasn’t thinking that at all. It was totally out of the blue. Tim and Paul [Reubens] came to me together. I was shocked. It wasn’t like I was looking for an opportunity for film scoring. I hadn’t even really fathomed the possibility — that didn’t seem possible. “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” my first time ever writing for orchestra, was a very simple score. And I really did think I was totally destroying his film with a score that was so out of left field.

Q: Why do you think you and Tim have remained close collaborators all these years?

A: We literally did grow into our abilities together. Our aesthetic is similar.

Q: Do you share his appreciation for the odd and the gothic?

A: Not necessarily, so much as, for whatever reason, his world was an easy place to fall into. It was a place I was comfortable in. We grew up very similar, alienated kids, feeling like a stranger in a strange land. You find yourself gravitating toward fantasy and horror. We both grew up on horror films in the same period, relatively. I grew up around the block from a movie theater, and I spent every weekend of my life there that I can remember. Every weekend was a new double bill, and to be able to see, every single weekend, two new films was really cool. He saw more of them on television, but all the same movies: Hammer films, Roger Corman films. It was a very fertile era to be into the movies.

Q: Given those circumstances, I can see why you were so compatible.

A: He was in Burbank, I was in Baldwin Hills. They were different suburbs of Los Angeles, but our origins weren’t that far apart. So when we met, I said to him, “Why do you want to hire me?” He goes: “I don’t know. I’ve seen your band, I think you could do other stuff.” The ability to succeed as a composer, you have to be able to relax, take no shape and fall into a new place and re-form yourself. That’s the best way I can describe it.That’s part of what allows a composer to thrive. I was falling into a lot of different spaces, but every time I fell into Tim’s space, I found it was a particularly fun and comfortable space to be.