Sunday, January 22, 2012

Witherspoon, Reynolds to Star in Burton-Produced "Big Eyes"

For the first time in many months, we finally have some updates on the Tim Burton-produced live-action feature, Big Eyes. The Hollywood Reporter informs us that the film will star Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds, playing Margaret and Walter Keane.

Margaret Keane is well-known for her kitschy paintings of bug-eyed children which she created and became a sensation in America during the 1960s. The Keanes' lives were filled with controversy: Though Margaret was the true talent behind the paintings, her husband, Walter, claimed credit for her work, which was sold under his name.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (who wrote the script for Tim Burton's Ed Wood) will write and direct Big Eyes, with Burton set to produce via his Tim Burton Productions. Lynette Howell and Jamie Patricof will also produce through Electric City Entertainment. Principal photography is scheduled to begin with Witherspoon and Reynolds this spring.

"We are ecstatic to have this dream cast for our dream project," Alexander and Karaszewski said in a joint statement. "Walter is a larger-than-life antihero -- charming, funny, dangerous, and a little crazy. Ryan will knock it out of the park. As for Reese, she will be perfect as Margaret -- soulful, decent, transforming from vulnerability to learning to fight for herself."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Video: Christopher Lee on "Dark Shadows"

In his 2011 Christmas message video, legendary actor Christopher Lee discussed his upcoming projects, in film and beyond. After discussing The Hobbit and Martin Scorsese's Hugo, Lee confirmed that he will appear in Dark Shadows. Lee clarified that his role in the vampire film will be brief, but memorable and meaningful to the audience. It's a fitting film for Lee to appear in, considering the acclaimed thespian, who turns 90 this year, is well-known for his performances as Dracula.

Lee begins talking about Dark Shadows at about 9:15:

New Picture of Depp in "Dark Shadows"

CineHeroes provides us with a new still from Dark Shadows, showing Johnny Depp playing Barnabas Collins. Click the image below to see a larger version:

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" International Poster Released

The international poster for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has been released, courtesy of Click the image below to see a larger version:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New "Frankenweenie" Image

The Los Angeles Times provides a new still from Frankenweenie, and some words from the director of animation, stop-motion extraordinaire Trey Thomas. Thomas spoke of the difficulties and ambitions of working on this stop-motion film.

"You'd think black-and-white would be forgiving because it's just shades of gray. But it isn't. It shows every little flaw," said Thomas, speaking at his East London office about the movie's monochrome aesthetic.

The LA Times wrote, "About 200 puppets were crafted for the film — including 16 Sparkys (eight dead, eight alive), 14 Victors and new oddball creations called E (short for Edgar) and Weird Girl, both of which are voiced by longtime Burton collaborator Catherine O'Hara." For Thomas, his guiding philosophy was honoring Burton's love of classic 1930s monster movies. "What we're trying to create is Universal horror plus," he said.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interview: Benjamin Walker is "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

MTV News provides an interview with Benjamin Walker, the star of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:

MTV News: Is it a daunting proposition knowing what's to come? This is a summer tent pole and you're the guy. Do you feel a little bit of that weight?

Benjamin Walker: Having never done it, I really don't even know what to be afraid of. I'm just taking it in stride.

MTV: Was this role, when you heard about it, something that was like, "Oh my god, that's something I'm dying to do?" Or was it something that took a little discussing with your team to say, "Hey, this would be cool for you."

Walker: Well, I had just finished doing a rock musical about Andrew Jackson, so I was already suited for it. What really got me excited was [director] Timur [Bekmambetov]. I liked his work, and as soon as I found out he was directing it, I wanted to be a part of it.

MTV: Can you give me a sense of what the process was like in getting the role? Did you have to go through multiple auditions and screen tests?

Walker: I met him in LA months before I got the job, and then he came and saw the Andrew Jackson show. There was a test that we did together with no prosthetics, and then we had the test Greg Cannom and Will Huff, the makeup artists. After that, the deal was closed, but we're talking about over the span of six or seven months.

MTV: What's the preparation for a role like this? What were the things you needed to get done before you stepped onto set for the first time?

Walker: First off, I had to lose about 30 pounds. I put on a lot of weight for Andrew Jackson, and Lincoln, particularly later in his life, was a very slight man. I learned ax fighting, which was a whole new martial art that they created for the film. Then I started brushing up on my Abe Lincoln history.

MTV: Was the weight loss easy for you to do?

Walker: Who can do that? It's the easiest way to do it, when a studio's willing to help you do it, and then you're training at the same time so you're exercising regularly and heavily. Certainly the easiest way to do it, but certainly not pleasant.

MTV: Tell me about Lincoln's fighting style.

Walker: The stunt guys and the fight choreographer, Mic Rodgers, who is a stunt legend, and a gentleman named Don Lee — all of these guys are martial artists and stuntmen. They created a form of fighting that would be unique to Lincoln at that time, that's never been in a movie before. As I'm learning it, they're creating it. It was really fascinating.

MTV: What is it comparable to?

Walker: It's comparable to a kind of bow staff fighting. If you imagine a shorter bow staff with a blade on the end of it, a kind of continuously spinning, ruthless and simultaneously graceful martial art.

MTV: When I was on set, I noticed the makeup on you was remarkable up close. I would imagine that you have to do this fighting stuff in that getup, obviously. That seems like a twofold challenge for you. Did that get in the way at all?

Walker: It became uncomfortable over time. You start to sweat under it. You're wearing a three-piece wool suit and fighting vampires and you're wearing a mask. It really becomes uncomfortable, but the men who created it, Greg Cannom and Will Huff, are absolute geniuses. If I ever felt frustrated, all I had to do was catch a reflection of this amazing sculpture that they had created on my face. The frustration would just fall away because I knew how great it looked.

MTV: Did your friends or wife visit you on set, and what did they make of your look?

Walker: Mostly everyone was creeped out by it because it's Abraham Lincoln, and I'm talking about where we're going to go have dinner.

MTV: So you didn't ever walk off set in downtown New Orleans as Abraham Lincoln?

Walker: No, because we're trying to keep it and how magnificent it looks as secret as possible. I was kind of sequestered to a tent anytime I was off shooting.

MTV: I'm anxious to see some finished footage in a trailer. Have they shown you much yet?

Walker: I've only seen some ADR material, and it's very, very exciting.

MTV: Did you guys shoot it in 3-D or are you posting it in 3-D?

Walker: If I'm not mistaken, we're posting it in 3-D.

MTV: Was the book itself useful? Had you read the book prior to this opportunity coming up?

Walker: I read the book as soon as I knew I was going to meet on it. It's helpful in terms of understanding the style and the seriousness with which we embrace this mashup, but there are going to be things in the movie that are surprises to people who know the book. But, also, we pay homage to what's great about the book.

MTV: My sense is — correct me if I'm wrong — that it feels like I was on the set of a Lincoln biopic because I didn't see any of the action stuff. It feels like it was all shooting extremely seriously and then you add that layer of crazy action and irreverence in that form. Does it feel like we're in a drama that's infected with action and violence?

Walker: It's more like we looked at Lincoln through the lens of that. What we do is embrace a dramatic story. It's in the title. You get it. Vampires. Now we commit to it, and you get to go on that ride.

MTV: Do you feel a little bit of resentment toward Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis? This guy can't let you be the one Lincoln of the year. You have some competition from the greatest living actor on the planet.

Walker: Luckily, they're very different movies.

MTV: What can you guarantee to me is better about your Lincoln movie than his Lincoln movie?

Walker: Our vampires will be much better than their vampires.

MTV: Although, I would like to see Daniel Day-Lewis fight vampires. You could do a mashup there one day. Are your presidential days behind you?

Walker: I would love to continue through the cannon of American presidents. They're fascinating people. America's story is a story that fascinates me. I'll never turn down a president.

MTV: Let it be known to casting directors everywhere.

Walker: It has to be a weird interpretation of the president, apparently.

MTV: A very specialized career you have going. 'Paradise Lost,' what's going on with that? Is that a stop? Is that a go?

Walker: It sounds like what they're trying to do is so ambitious they need a little bit more time to prep. They're looking for the summer, which is fine by me. It's also the kind of movie that if we're not ready, we don't need to start. They're doing something in a technological aspect that nobody's ever done in a movie. If they want a little extra time, they can have it.

MTV: I assume you're jazzed about that one. You like the script and you like the interpretation? We haven't seen many blockbusters made of poems in the history of cinema, but this will be something unique, I think.

Walker: That story is the story that began all stories. It's one of the greatest stories of all time. It's something I studied in school and I'm excited to be a part of.

MTV: Are you still doing some comedy in New York or elsewhere?

Walker: Oh yeah, Find the Funny is at Joe's Pub usually the first of every month. We're working out some kinks for the New Year, but we're certainly going to be starting out here shortly. It's something I love to do and something I love to be a part of.

MTV: That side of you is something we haven't seen on the big screen yet. Is that opportunity is exciting for you? To bring a little bit of that stage persona to the big screen work?

Walker: I think it would be a lot of fun. There's little greater in life than making someone laugh. If you can do it in the medium of film, it's even more rewards, I imagine.

MTV: Do you know what the next gig is, whether it's on stage or in front of the camera?

Walker: Well, the industry is coming back together after the holidays. There are a lot of possibilities. "Paradise" moving has changed some things. So far, I'm gearing up for the press tour for "Lincoln," which is going to be a huge undertaking.

MTV: Have you talked to friends and family that have gone through this sort of thing yet to know what you're getting into? It's a lot of sitting in hotel rooms and answering the same questions for hours on end, carpets.

Walker: I could probably ask you what it's like. You know better than anybody. You probably have to be much more miserable than I have to be.

MTV: I'm looking forward to seeing how glazed over your eyes are when I see you at your first junket. Will it be your first junket you've done?

Walker: You can reserve the right, because we know each other, to reach across the table and swat me, to bring me back to life if you need to.

MTV: There was talk that you did a workshop for this "American Psycho" musical. Was that something that was fun? Is that something you're hoping might come together in another form?

Walker: I'd love to do it. The music was great. Duncan Sheik did the music. It's a very timely story right now. It's a musical about the deregulation of American finance through the lens of a crazy person. It's a lot of fun. The thing that's great about "American Psycho" as a play or musical is that it's funnier.

MTV: Were you a fan of Mary Harron's film? Obviously, Christian Bale was amazing in that as well.

Walker: That was an amazing movie.

MTV: A little bit of a different take, it sounds like. I guess accentuate the humor a little bit more.

Walker: A lot of the things that happened in the film were inferred through voice-over, with a stage play, it's direct address. You're literally having a conversation with the audience.

MTV: Is there Phil Collins? Is there Genesis in the stage play?

Walker: Oh, yeah. "Feel It Coming In the Air Tonight."

The film will be released in theaters on June 22, 2012.

Video: First Footage from "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Set

MTV News provides us with the very first footage from the set of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:

Director Timur Bekmambetov, star Benjamin Walker (who plays "Honest Abe" himself), producer Jim Lemley, actor Anthony Mackie, and production designer Francois Audouy provide insight on the set into the making of the film.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Photo: Depp and Pfeiffer in "Dark Shadows"

Entertainment Weekly has provided a new photo of Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer in Dark Shadows:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Burton on 2012 Films, and Beyond

MTV News recently caught up with a very busy Tim Burton. In this interview, the filmmaker discusses his various 2012 projects (Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), as well as what might happen in the next few years...

MTV: Hi, Tim, we wanted to check in with you because it looks like it's going to be a busy 2012.

Tim Burton: Don't remind me. [Laughs.]

MTV: I'm sorry.

Burton: That's OK. I have to face it sooner or later. I didn't really plan it. I probably should have. I wish you could control film schedules a bit better. But it's OK. It's all things that I love, so that's good.

MTV: How are you dividing your time between the various projects?

Burton: With "Frankenweenie," it's a little bit easier to do it, because you only have a couple shots coming through each day. It's like a slow-motion process. When you're dealing with something like "Dark Shadows," that's immediate and intense. And then with "Lincoln," [director] Timur [Bekmambetov] is great. I'm there just to support it. It's a project I really liked and just wanted to see.

MTV: I got a chance to visit the set, and I was impressed. If I didn't know any better, I'd say I was on the set of a historical biopic.

Burton: You were! It is! That's what's great about it. It just seemed like a natural thing for Timur. It being an American history story, it seemed right for it to be directed by a Russian. [Laughs.]

MTV: What stage are you in for "Dark Shadows" right now?

Burton: Panicking. That stage. We're editing and doing effects. It's not an effects-heavy picture, but it's still got stuff in there. There's a strange tone to the movie. That's always what's fun about movies. You never know exactly what they are. It makes it both exciting and scary and why you like doing it. I have to keep remembering that.

MTV : With over 1,200 episodes of the original series to draw upon, what was important to you to retain?

Burton: It's got such a strange vibe. And it's not something that a lot of people necessarily know. You're trying to do a weird soap opera. I felt really lucky, because the cast is really good. People like Michelle [Pfeiffer] grew up watching it. Some of the cast knew about it. Some didn't, but they were all game for it — getting into the weird spirit of what "Dark Shadows" was. It has a weird sense of heightened melodrama. There was a generation of us who would run home from school to watch it. That's probably why we were such bad students. We should have been doing homework; we were watching "Dark Shadows" instead. It was hard to put into words the tone it was. It had a weird seriousness, but it was funny in a way that wasn't really funny. We just had to feel our way through it to find the tone. We didn't do any real rehearsals, because the cast all came in at different times. But there was an old photo of the [original] cast which I always remembered, so a couple days before shooting, we got the whole cast together to take a similar shot so everyone could see each other and get that vibe from doing a group photo. That helped set the tone more than anything.

MTV: Some of it takes place in the 1700s, but most of it takes place in 1972, is that right?

Burton: Yeah it goes back, but it's mainly in 1972, which to the era of "Dark Shadows" is the modern era. To me, it was a scary time.

MTV: Does the film leave that house much?

Burton: A little bit, but the thing about "Dark Shadows" was it was a very hermetically sealed world. It's mainly the internal family melodrama. You get a little bit of the sense of the world, but it's like "Grey Gardens," where these people are in their own sort of world.

MTV: Do you utilize time travel in the movie?

Burton: Not too much. A tiny bit. For me, that's when the show kind of made me want to do homework. I was like, wait a minute! That came near the end of the trail of the series.

MTV: You decided not to do 3-D this time around?

Burton: No. It's the '70s, man. Only "Frankenstein's Bloody Terror" was in 3-D. That's the only one I remember from that time.

MTV: Is it true that you're considering doing another "Beetlejuice" film?

Burton: Yes. I love that character, and Michael [Keaton] is so great in it. I always think about how great and fun that character was, so I just said to ["Vampire Hunter" writer] Seth [Grahame-Smith], "If you have some idea about it, go for it, and then I'll look at it freshly." In the past, I tried some things, but that was way back when. He seemed really excited about it.

MTV: Has he run any of his ideas by you yet?

Burton: No. I told him to try some stuff, but he hasn't come back to me yet. Michael was so great in it. I'm sure he'd strangely tap right back into it.

MTV: It must be extremely exciting for you to return to "Frankenweenie," considering the original short led to your demise at Disney.

Burton: Maybe it'll cause my second or third demise. [Laughs.] I'm very excited about it. The opportunity to do it in black-and-white and 3-D really fits the story. For me, it's the heart of the story that we've gotten to go back to and expand. It's more of a "House of Frankenstein" kind of situation now, but also it stays with the same thing. It taps into the politics of other children that you remember from school. It's still intimate, though. It's still the basic story with a few more elements.

MTV: It actually shocks me there hasn't been a Broadway musical version of "Nightmare Before Christmas."

Burton: A couple of schools have done it. I think it could lend itself to something like [Broadway]. I'm just happy it's taken on a life of its own. We've resisted any kind of sequelization thing. Some things are just best left on their own.

MTV: Did anyone try to dissuade you from doing "Frankenweenie" in black-and-white?

Burton: I'm very grateful, because I think they understood that that was part of the emotion of it. I was very happy about that, because it's a big part of it. It's a big deal for a studio to go along with something like that. And the 3-D really suits it. With a lot of 3-D, you lose some of the detail, but with stop-motion, you actually feel more of the detail. So all the work that people put into the puppets and the spaces on the set — you actually feel it.

MTV: Is IMAX interesting to you?

Burton: Yeah, definitely! We're doing a test for "Frankenweenie." "Frankenweenie" is such a tactile funky project. It would be interesting to see it in that, so we're playing around with it.

MTV: Is "The Addams Family" the next thing on the stop-motion docket?

Burton: Oh, I don't know. I got so many things to keep up with now ...

MTV: You do seem to have a long list of things with your name attached.

Burton: That's why I don't go on the Internet, Josh. It freaks me out. I've got my immediate things to worry about. It's like when they thought the Earth was flat and you hit the horizon and fell into a black hole.

MTV: So this laundry list of things that are stressing you out ...

Burton: Just check them all off till later. Next year, we'll take a look at them like Santa's list. I'll tell you yes or cross them off the list.

Burton on White House Halloween Controversy

Tim Burton responds to an exaggerated media story about his surprise Halloween 2009 visit to the White House on his official Facebook page:

"Setting the record straight:
Recent reports about the 2009 Halloween event have it all wrong. The White House contacted me about helping decorate a Halloween event being held for children of military personnel. I turned to Disney who graciously donated props from my films Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I asked Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska to attend in character from Alice in Wonderland and Deep Roy to appear in his Oompa-Loompa costume [from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] as a way to surprise the children. It's unfortunate that this event has been twisted and exaggerated into something negative when it was held for children and came from such a positive place.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Burton, Warner Bros. Interested in "Pinocchio" with Robert Downey Jr.?

The Hollywood Reporter states that Warner Bros. and Tim Burton are interested in making a live-action adaptation of Pinocchio, starring Robert Downey Jr. Robert Downey Jr. would play Geppetto, the wood-carver who creates the marionette boy.

Bryan Fuller (creator of TV's Pushing Daisies) has written a treatment for the project, and Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Big Fish) is attached to produce.

However, neither Burton nor Downey Jr. have made deals with Warner Bros. yet, and both men have very busy schedules. Additionally, several other adaptations of Pinocchio are in development from other studios, making stiff competition for Warner Bros.' plans.

Friday, January 06, 2012

New "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Image

A new image from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has surfaced, courtesy of USA Today. The Burton-produced film will be released in theaters on June 22nd, 2012.