Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Frankenweenie" Production Art Surfaces

New production artwork for the feature-length version of Frankenweenie has surfaced on animation artist Dennis Greco's website. You can see several examples of Greco's layouts on his official website, but here are a few examples:

Seth Grahame-Smith on "Dark Shadows," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

Writer Seth Grahame-Smith sat down with for an extensive interview (click here for the full interview). The novelist and screenwriter talked about numerous projects, but here is the excerpt in which he discusses the adaptation of his own novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, his script for Dark Shadows, and collaborating with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

As a writer, is there a difference for you, in writing a script for something like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, where you didn’t know who would be cast in the roles, as opposed to something like Dark Shadows, where you know Johnny Depp is playing the character and that’s who you’re writing for?

GRAHAME-SMITH: Yeah, there is a difference, sure. The challenge with Lincoln was adapting my own book. I had to cannibalize and just give up all ownership of the book, in my mind. What makes a good book and what makes a good movie are totally different things. Someone told me that the best adaptations are merely inspired by the book, they’re not dictated by the book. That took awhile to learn. It took me awhile to get to the point where I could say, “Okay, maybe this movie does need a villain,” since there’s no villain in the book. And then, it was, “Who is that villain?” It was a huge learning experience for me. At the same time, working with Tim [Burton] and Johnny [Depp], I could meet with Johnny and sit down with him and hear him say these lines and talk to him about how he’s going to perform this character. That absolutely dictates the way that you write because you have a basis in which to imagine these words being said. It actually makes it easier and it makes it a little more fun to write in that situation. You’re like, “This is a Johnny Depp movie. This is a Tim Burton movie. I know what the pallette of that is and I can draw on it.”

Was there anything specific that you wanted to bring to Dark Shadows, both from your own sensibility and so that you made it familiar to fans?

GRAHAME-SMITH: My job on Dark Shadows was to make it fun and funny, first and foremost. It can still be dark and it can still even be gory and gothic at times, but it also needed to be fun and it needed to be an experience that people would enjoy having. I came at it from, “Let’s not be afraid to be funny. Let’s make Barnabas funny. Let’s see this movie through his eyes and really see a man who is trying to come to terms with what he is, where he is and when he is.” I think we really got there with the script. We’re still making some tweaks, and there are rehearsals coming up in a couple weeks and there will be some tweaks after that, but I think everybody is really excited, me included, about where we got. They’re filming Lincoln right now, which is exciting. And, they’re going to be filming Dark Shadows in May, which is also really exciting. It’s hard to believe. For me, thinking that these movies are going to be in theaters in a year or so, it’s just astonishing.

What’s it been like to collaborate with someone like Tim Burton, who is such a visual filmmaker?

GRAHAME-SMITH: It’s just another amazing experience, and a learning experience for me. Honestly, the last couple of years have been like going to film school all over again, times 100. It’s been amazing to watch the way that his mind works, and how he collaborates with Johnny, and how Johnny’s mind works. Also, getting to work with a producer like Richard Zanuck, who did Jaws, Planet of the Apes and The Sound of Music, is just incredible. It’s having living legends, all around you. It was intimidating at first because you’re walking in with these iconic people, but that goes away pretty quickly, and you get comfortable and realize that everybody is just a normal person.

In adapting your own material for Abraham Lincoln, were there things that you added to the script that you wished you’d have thought of for the novel?

GRAHAME-SMITH: Oh yeah, absolutely. The book deals with slavery, in a very delicate way. In retrospect, I should have had an African American point of view in the book. In the book, the slaves, until the very end of the book, are just victimized. That’s something that works, in terms of a book that’s purporting itself to be historically accurate, but at the same time, in a movie, you need all points of view. But, the real thing with Lincoln was that the book didn’t really have a cohesive central villain. The villain was all vampires and it was this thousands of years old movement that led them to the Civil War. You need an embodiment in a movie, much more than you do in a book. That’s something that we realized, along the process. We kept having all these conversations about making the threat more palpable, but what we were really saying was that we needed a person. So, as I’m writing my new book, which I’m doing now, the things that I’ve learned from the experience of doing these movies has just taught me so much about writing books. Not just because I want these books to go on to be movies and I want the process of adapting them to be easier, which is also true, but it just makes the stories richer, it makes them easier to tell and more fun to tell when you have people to say the things that you’re trying to get across. That’s definitely on my mind now.

Thomas McDonnell Joins "Dark Shadows"

The Hollywood Reporter informs us that Thomas McDonnell has joined the cast of Dark Shadows. McDonnell will be playing the younger version of Johnny Depp's character, the vampire Barnabas Collins, a "self-loathing vampire living in a Maine manor who is searching for his lost love." Perhaps the film will continue the Tim Burton tradition of flashbacks of the protagonist, as seen films including Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Sleepy Hollow, and others.

Michael Sheen is also in talks to be in Dark Shadows, though it is unknown which role he will play. Sheen worked with Burton in Alice in Wonderland, supplying the voice of the White Rabbit.

Filming of Dark Shadows begins next month.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Video: Eva Green on "Dark Shadows"

Eva Green spoke with MTV News, giving us her thoughts on Tim Burton's upcoming adaptation of Dark Shadows, which begins shooting next month:

"I haven't seen the TV series, but from what I've seen on the Internet, it's very different. My character is very different. She's American, blonde, cool, in the '70s," Green told MTV News. "She is this sexy witch, very powerful in town, she's very cool. She has many faces." Green will be playing the role of Angelique.

"It's something that he's never done, I think," she said. "It's much more focused on the actors. It could almost be a play."

Green had a bit more to say about the film in an interview with Black Book:

Tell me about Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton film you’re shooting. Has that started yet?
No, in a month.

What can you tell me about that?
I’m not allowed to say too much about it. It’s extremely well written, very, very funny, in a Tim Burton way. It’s very focused on the actors, and the characters are really rich. My character is a full-on witch and she’s completely obsessed with Johnny Depp’s character, and she’ll do anything to get him.

Is it going to be a film children can see?
I don’t know, it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever read. There will be blood, so I don’t know. It’s always dark and poetic with Tim Burton. It’s a mixture of Sweeney Todd and Beetlejuice—back to his old roots. But he wants to focus more on the actors this time and the relationships. It could almost be a play.

Michael Gough, 1917-2011

Legendary actor and frequent Tim Burton collaborator Michael Gough died on Thursday, March 17th. He was 94.

Michael Gough had an extensive career with roles in over 150 films. He began acting in the 1940s and became a staple of the British Hammer horror films in the 1950s and 1960s (which Burton is quite fond of).

Gough is perhaps best known as playing Alfred Pennyworth in Burton's Batman in 1989 and Batman Returns in 1992. He played the same character in the Joel Schumacher sequels, such as the Burton-produced Batman Forever (1995). Gough continued to work with Burton in other films, playing Notary Hardenbrook in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and supplying the voice of Elder Gutneckt in Corpse Bride (2005). Gough came out of retirement to provide his voice to the Dodo Bird in Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), his final performance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Alice" on Broadway?

While rumors have been floating around regarding this matter for a little while, has learned that Disney is indeed considering adapting Tim Burton's recent version of Alice in Wonderland into a stage musical for Broadway. writes that "Disney Theatrical Productions executives have met with key members of the film, including director Tim Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton, to develop the property as a stage musical."

Burton would oversee the project, but not direct. Woolverton would adapt her screenplay to the stage. Robert Jess Roth is set to helm the stage musical, with choreography by Matt West. The duo also collaborated on Disney's first Broadway outing, Beauty and the Beast.

No composer or songwriting team has been mentioned yet, and there is no current timeline for a Broadway arrival. Burton has also not made a comment yet.

This project is stil very much in its most embryonic form of development. It has happened before: several years ago, there was talk of adapting Burton's Batman film to a Broadway musical, with songs by Meatloaf. The project never came to fruition.

No Reznor for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

On March 7th, Trent Reznor confirmed on the official Nine Inch Nails forum that he would be involved with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as both the composer of the film's musical score and by playing a small role onscreen.

Reznor wrote: “I was very familiar with the book [by Seth Grahame-Smith], read the script, and it felt like an interesting challenge as a composer… The idea was a cameo-esque role that would be kept under wraps and be a surprise around opening night… So… do me a favor and act surprised, OK?”

But just three days later, Reznor provided his fans with an update, says Crawdaddy! Magazine. Reznor wrote that he will actually not be involved with the film, as he is busy with other projects:

“Don’t believe everything you read… There’s no juicy story here, it’s just that when the news mysteriously leaked out about my involvement I hadn’t made up my mind completely, because various aspects of the project were changing. I felt the need to say something earlier this week because my inbox was filling up with speculation, and at that moment I thought I would be doing it. Confused yet? Apparently I am. Bottom line, I wish them the best with the film, and I’m sure it will still be great.”

At best, Reznor was only in talks to work on the film, and was not officially involved in it.

As of now, we do not know who will score the film.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mary Elizabeth Winstead for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

MTV reports that Mary Elizabeth Winstead (known for Scott Pilgrim Versus the World and Death Proof) will be playing the role of May Todd Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Winstead is replacing Robin McLeavy, who was previously assigned the role during talks. The film is currently in pre-production.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Reznor in Talks for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

Entertainment Weekly reports that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame is being approached to work on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

20th Century Fox confirms that they not only want Reznor to compose the score for the film, but also to play Jack Barts, the vampire who kills Lincoln’s mother and sets the hero on his path of righteous vengeance.

Reznor won an Academy Award this past Sunday for his score in The Social Network.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Burton, Brolin to Make "Hunchback"?

The Hollywood Reporter states that Tim Burton and Josh Brolin may possibly make an update of Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Warner Bros. is currently developing the project.

Brolin would not only star as the titular character, but also produce the film. Burton is reportedly intrigued and may even direct. But Burton has yet to read the script, which is being written by Kieran and Michele Mulroney (scribes of the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel).

If Burton does decide to direct the film, then perhaps this feature-length adaptation will be somewhat in the spirit of the 1923 classic film starring Lon Chaney, Sr. Only time will tell:

Brolin is repped by CAA. The Mulroneys are repped by CAA and Management 360. Burton is repped by WME.

Photos: Getty Images

Video: Helena Bonham Carter on "Dark Shadows"

At Sunday's 83rd Academy Awards, Helena Bonham Carter briefly spoke with MTV about the possibility of working on Dark Shadows:

Video: Helena Bonham Carter on Dark Shadows (MTV)

Carter said she may play the role of Dr. Julia Hoffman, a doctor who specializes in blood disorders.

"I think I'm going to do it," she said, "and I think it's because, well, I've never played an alcoholic psychiatrist!"

"I thought it was a sexy part he wanted me for, and I'm saying, 'Yeah, I can play the sexy witch,'" she said. "And he said, 'No, you've done that. You're going to play the psychiatrist who's an alcoholic!'"

"It's definitely a fun part, so we'll see," she added. "And it has a great cast."

Video: Colleen Atwood on "Dark Shadows"

Colleen Atwood briefly talked about the forthcoming Dark Shadows film. The costume designer has said that she has just helped Johnny Depp into his Barnabas Collins costume for the first time. She has also read the script, saying that it is "really funny," and says that, like the soap opera it is based upon, "will still be campy, I'm sure."

"Alice" Wins Two Oscars

Alice in Wonderland won two of the three Oscars it was nominated for this Sunday at the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

The film won in the categories of Best Costume Design, with Colleen Atwood receiving her third Oscar, and Best Art Direction, given to Robert Stromberg (Production Designer) and Karen O'Hara (Set Decorator).

Here is Atwood's acceptance speech:

"Thank you to the Academy and especially to my fellow nominees who are just so much fun to sit with tonight and who have been so supportive, it's great to be part of such a great group of people. The story, "Alice in Wonderland," was described by its publisher in 1865 as a story valued for its rare imagination, priceless humor, and power to transport the reader into a world of pure fantasy, a gift to us all. The heart of any movie lies with the director and I've been incredibly lucky on this and many films to work with the singular Tim Burton. Tim's imagination along with the amazing cast Johnny's incandescent Hatter, Mia's Alice for all girls, all times, Helena's the fearless big headed Queen, and our crystalline snowflake princess, Anne Hathaway, made my job a delight. We had the support of a production team headed by Richard Zanuck and Katterli Frauenfelder. Supported by Joe Roth, Suzanne and Jen Todd, and Disney, but I couldn't have done it without my team Christine Cantella and my entire group. Thank you all very much."

This is the ninth Academy Award nomination for Colleen Atwood. She was previously nominated for:

NINE (2009) -- Nominee, Costume Design
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005) -- Winner, Costume Design
CHICAGO (2002) -- Winner, Costume Design
SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) -- Nominee, Costume Design
BELOVED (1998) -- Nominee, Costume Design
LITTLE WOMEN (1994) -- Nominee, Costume Design

Atwood also filled out a questionnaire sheet, giving us some tidbits of her interests, inspirations, and memories from working on Alice (click the thumbnail to enlarge the image):

And here is the joined acceptnce speech from Stromberg and O'Hara:

Why didn't I lose that 20 lbs? First of all, the other nominees, Guy, all you guys deserve to be up here. Everyone at Disney from Iger and Ross and Bailey, Bruce Hendricks, Art Repola, the great Joe Roth. The Art Department led by Stefan Dechant, Crissy Wilson, and Todd Cherniawsky. This great set decorator. I'm standing here because of three people, Ken Ralston, the great Richard Zanuck, and the wacky world of Tim Burton. There he is!

O'HARA: Tim, this is yours. Thank you.

STROMBERG: Meet me with a saw because half of this is yours. There's one last bit of art direction for a Tim Burton Film. There it is. Thank You Academy and to my wife and kids and I dedicate this to my Dad.

This is the third Academy Award nomination for Robert Stromberg. He was previously nominated for:

AVATAR (2009) -- Winner, Art Direction

This is the second Academy Award nomination for Karen O'Hara. She was previously nominated for:

THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986) -- Nominee, Art Direction

Daniel Haim of Bloginity interviewed O'Hara and Stromberg back stage:

Q. Congratulations. What did you put on top of the Oscar? Oh, now I can see it.

A. You couldn’t see it? It’s a little Mad Hatter’s hat.

Q. Did you make that?

A. I had one of my prop makers make it, and I just thought it was a nice little punctuation to the end of the show. Could you not see it on the broadcast? You could see it.

Q. Congratulations. I just want to ask you, what was your biggest production design challenge on this film because it seemed like every scene probably would have been, but can you talk about that, but also in terms of set direction, what was your biggest challenge?

A. Well, you know, any time you work on a Tim Burton film, there’s a bar that you have to meet, and the challenge for a film like this is that we had a great deal of digital sets, but there were some challenging physical sets. And the biggest challenge was sort of making sure the director, the actors knew where they were at all times in these green environments through, having virtual versions of those sets available to them; physical models, and illustrations.

Q. The Academy made a big splash of connecting art direction, cinematography, and yet Alice’s other big below the line nomination is in visual effects. So, in an increasingly rendered age, what is the relationship between production design and the visual effects department?

A. You guys ask a set decorating question next. Well, I come from visual effects. But the difference between how we work now in these types of films is that the production designer is involved with the visual effects probably more heavily, and involved more in post production, which is actually good because the way it normally works is the production designer will sort of leave after the end of principal photography, and then you are relying on visual effects people to fill in those green screens. So, this keeps a more cohesive design coming from visual effects myself.

Q. This is your second in a row in art direction after your first nomination being in visual effects. Where do you see your art evolving from here?

A. I should probably retire (laughs). You know, I feel honestly, I feel that I’ve always done creative things, but design is design no matter what you do, no matter what form. We have lots of new technology that we’re trying and I feel like we are pioneering fusing art and machine. I am very proud of that because the next generation of kids coming up will know what they are doing.

Q. I just want to get some reaction from you, you’ve been up there before is it different the second time, and I want to hear from both of you about this?

A. Stromberg: Honestly, I was not expecting it. I was sort of following INCEPTION. I thought it had the upper hand this year, but I’m very proud that it was recognized and very happy to win, but all the nominees I take my hat off to.

A. Karen O’Hara: I think that the most difficult time that we had was when Johnny decided to walk across the table and suddenly all of our china and our tables, we had to triplicate. Other than that, though, we had a wonderful time working with Tim and this is really a nod to him and his supportive artists.
A. [Stromberg] Thank you all.

Q. Thank you, and congratulations.

Alice was also nominated for Best Visual Effects, but Inception took home that prize.