Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Mars Attacks!" -- the Musical?

UPDATE: April Fools', apparently. Dang.

First, a stage musical version of Big Fish was announced to be in the works, followed by Alice in Wonderland, and now... Mars Attacks!?

While we don't know how much this theatrical production will be based on the Tim Burton film, Topps and IDW Publishing are indeed publishing Mars Attacks: 21st Century Slaughter, states Geeks of Doom. The production will be written by comic book veteran John Layman (Chew, Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness).

Layman said, "My approach to MARS ATTACKS on stage is sort of a science fiction version of West Side Story: a human and a Martian involved in a star-crossed romance, set against the backdrop of a violent interstellar war—with all of humanity caught in between! It’s going to be a rollicking good time, with songs that will make you want to get up and dance!"

The musical will be up on Broadway this year, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Topps macabre trading card series that inspired the 1996 film.

New "Dark Shadows" Character Banner

Here is a new Dark Shadows character banner, featuring Barnabas Collins and some of the women of Collinwood:

Video: Fourth "Dark Shadows" TV Spot

A fourth Dark Shadows television spot has appeared, and contains a few of new shots:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Photo: Henry Jackman Scoring "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

Timur Bekmambetov, director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, posted this image of composer Henry Jackman scoring the music of the film at the Air studio in London:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nine New Full-Body "Dark Shadows" Character Posters

Apple has posted nine new full-body character posters to promote Dark Shadows. Click on the images below to enlarge them:

Photo: Scoring "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is wrapping up. Producer Jim Lemley posted this photo of the scoring session for the film's music in London:

Henry Jackman has composed the score for the film.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Video: Another "Dark Shadows" TV Spot

Another Dark Shadows television promo has appeared online. This one does not show nearly as much new footage as the previous one, but it has a few new shots:

Comfy "Dark Shadows" Cinema Promo

Tami Ava posted this photo of a comfy-looking "installation" which can be found at certain movie megaplexes to promote Dark Shadows:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Video: "Dark Shadows" TV Spot

A television spot for Dark Shadows is now online, and features new footage from the film:

Video: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" Webchat

Actor Benjamin Walker, director Timur Bekmambetov, co-star Rufus Sewell, and writer/executive producer Seth Grahame-Smith took questions regarding Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from UK websites and answered them live in this 10-minute-long video webchat. They discuss many topics in the conversation, including Tim Burton's influence as a producer, how the real-life Abraham Lincoln had something like a superhero origin story, the addition of Sewell's villain character, and more:

Videos: Walker, Bekmambetov, Grahame-Smith Talk "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

HitFix has posted two video interviews with actor Benjamin Walker, director Timur Bekmambetov, and writer Seth Grahame-Smith talking about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at WonderCon.

Here is Benjamin Walker discussing research for the film, the process of applying his iconic makeup, and doing real stunts:

And here is Timur Bekmambetov and Seth Grahame-Smith talking about what interested them in this unique material, making changes when adapting the novel for the film, and sticking to historical detail in a fantastical story:

Photos: Pfeiffer, Burton, Depp on "Dark Shadows" Set

The website Gorgeous Pfeiffer has posted two scans from the newest issue of W Magazine, featuring notes from actress Michele Pfeiffer and photos of her, Tim Burton, Eva Green, and Johnny Depp making Dark Shadows:


Friday, March 23, 2012

Reporting from the Set of "Dark Shadows"

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times wrote an article on his recent visit to the set of Dark Shadows in London. The article speaks with various cast and crew members (including Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and production designer Rick Heinrichs, among others) to get an inside view on this enigmatic new movie. Here is the article in its entirety:

Reporting from London — There’s a night and day difference between the soundstages of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows” and his previous movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” and, no surprise, this is a filmmaker far more comfortable in the darkness.

The digital ambitions of “Wonderland” required numbing weeks of work in a green-screen chamber, and by the end of it Burton was desperate to get back to his roots — building a cinematic house and then haunting it with his unique brand of cemetery cabaret. For “Dark Shadows,” an eccentric vampire romance starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green, he’s staged a minor one-man rebellion against CG imagery; the story has some digital effects, but where the script called for a Maine fishing town’s waterfront, circa 1972, Burton persuaded Warner Bros. and the film’s producers to build it on the back lot of England’s storied Pinewood Studios instead of on a computer screen.

“It’s so nice to come to work here — not everything is green,” Burton said last summer as he roamed the gothic, crushed-velvet trappings of the mansion that is home to Depp’s aristocratic bloodsucker, Barnabas Collins. “It’s a soap opera — or started as one — and that really means working with the actors. And the sets help everyone. And it’s just more fun.”

“Dark Shadows,” which doesn’t arrive until May 11, is a curious creature and an ongoing mystery. A trailer recently premiered to mixed reactions; its winking tone possibly suggested that the film is an elaborate goof on the overwrought “Twilight” movies, but actually, like so many Burton projects, this one is a fractured valentine to the pop-culture obsessions of his youth.

In the film, Depp plays Collins, the 18th century playboy of Maine’s high society whose lothario ways earn the wrath of Angelique Bouchard, a witch portrayed by Green. She transforms him into a vampire and dispatches him to an underground crypt where he is imprisoned until 1972. That’s when an unlucky construction crew sets him free, and in a world of lava lamps, glam rock and Richard M. Nixon, he finds purpose in the new era. The ensemble cast features a number of Burton’s regular players — in addition to Depp and Pfeiffer, there’s the director’s romantic partner, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz and English horror legend Christopher Lee.

The setup and characters are taken from the truly weird TV series also called “Dark Shadows,” an ABC soap opera that logged 1,225 episodes before it went off the air in 1971. Created by Dan Curtis, who later did the landmark “The Winds of War” miniseries, the show starred Jonathan Frid as tortured Barnabas and brought ghosts and ghouls to the afternoon hours that usually belonged to handsome surgeons and conniving heiresses.

Unlike “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters,” this monster-mash of a show was a fringe taste, which is why it attracted the young outsiders who would be called goths today. Three of them were Burton, Depp and Pfeiffer, and they have nearly identical memories about racing home from school to catch the same strange transmission.

“It was a real thing for me, I had to watch it, and it was tough because you’d miss the beginning — it started at like 3 p.m., but that’s when we got out of school,” said Depp, who grew up in the sunbaked suburb of Miramar, Fla. “And then it moved later because all the kids wrote in letters. When you met someone who knew the show and loved it, there was an instant connection.”

That connection doesn’t exist with young moviegoers today, however, and the producers of the new movie aren’t going to encourage anyone to check out the originals because, well, it wasn’t, technically speaking, a great show. “I think,” Burton said evenly, “you could say it was actually awful.”

So what exactly was its appeal? The London-based filmmaker searched for the right words.

“It’s a different animal,” Burton said. “If I go back and watch something like ‘Star Trek,’ it’s not that hard to analyze what the appeal was, and even if the show is dated you identify what it was that made it work. The ‘Dark Shadows’ appeal was a little more abstract. What I loved about it was the fact that it was a melodramatic soap opera, and, well, that flies in the face of any modern studio’s interests as far as moviemaking. But what we’ve gone for is a mixture, and that’s always what I’ve been interested in; I think most of my movies are mixtures of light and dark and serious things and things that have humor in them.”

On the set, during one scene last summer, Depp emerged from the shadows — in costume and full makeup — with a sort of gliding majesty. He couldn’t hear Bonham Carter’s playful whisper teasing him about a previous role as she watched from a nearby corner.

“Just look at him,” she said with a wink. “He only does parts if he can wear eyeliner. ‘The Tourist’? Should have had more makeup.”

Depp has one of the most famous faces in Hollywood, but in many of his roles he hides it. “I don’t think about it that way, I just go to the role that feels right,” said the 48-year-old star.

Between takes, he offered his hands to a visitor for inspection — each of his fingers was extended into talons with rubbery prosthetics, and one held the weight of an especially opulent ring.

“There’s an elegance to this guy that’s kind of fun; Barnabas is a good one,” Depp said as, over his shoulder, Burton chatted with Bonham Carter next to a laboratory vat of vampire blood. “And just look around — there’s nothing like working with Tim.”

The filmmaker and star clearly adore each other — this is their seventh live-action collaboration. “Sleepy Hollow” producer Scott Rudin memorably quipped that Depp is “basically playing Tim Burton in all of his movies,” which doesn’t really hold to scrutiny — but the actor does know he faces a greater challenge each time he steps into Burton’s universe to play yet another spooky soul.

“Have I been in this arena before? That’s the thing you have to watch,” said Depp, who joked that Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and Ichabod Crane would enjoy a tour of the Collins mansion.

The actor paints portraits of his characters as he dials into their minds and hearts, and to get their voices right he counts backward from 10 — he’s himself at the top but the accent and affectations gather with each digit until he is a vampire at zero.

Costar Jackie Earle Haley, who plays caretaker Willie Loomis, said whatever tricks Depp uses, they are good ones.

“He was using those long fingers in one scene where he has to hypnotize me,” the “Watchmen” star said. “So I’m watching them and his eyes and listening to his voice and it kind of started to work a little bit. I was like, ‘Wow, this guy could be the real thing.’”

“Dark Shadows” is built around the comedic timing of Depp and the immersive world of Burton, the Edward Gorey of Hollywood. Just as he’s assembled many of his usual team in front of the camera, he’s relying on previous collaborators behind the scenes, including costume designer Colleen Atwood and composer Danny Elfman. Production designer Rick Heinrichs, who won an Oscar for his work with Burton on “Sleepy Hollow,” may be in the running again with his “Dark Shadows” sets. Yes, those were real boats in the water of the fake Maine harbor that was built on an elevated platform and covered a wide plain of the Pinewood lot — it was cheaper and logistically more practical to construct a fake port than use one in Maine, and the counterpart fishing harbors in England are constructed differently.

“A few months ago there was just string here to show where the road would be and the canneries and the pier,” Heinrichs said as he strolled past. “It’ll be a little sad when we tear it all down. These buildings say a lot about the families. Once there was a competition, but now the Collins Cannery is derelict — as is much of the town — but the AngelBay Cannery is thriving, and you get the feeling it’s sucking the life out of the town.”

Heinrichs smiles when asked if he was part of the “Dark Shadows” cult during the original run.

“I was in school when ‘Dark Shadows’ was on, but I didn’t particularly run home to watch it every day, but I know a lot of girls did. It was the ‘Twilight’ of its time, really…. What Tim and Johnny like is that there’s a slightly overwrought soap-opera feel to the families and the town and this gothic horror story beneath it all. There’s the innate humor in it too, the layering and juxtaposition of putting the courtly, 200-year-old Barnabas in that decadent post-hippie, pre-disco era.”

Burton’s previous movie, “Alice,” made more than a billion dollars worldwide, but the quirks of “Dark Shadows” has Hollywood wondering if this will be an overly eccentric misfire like his 1996 sci-fi spoof, “Mars Attacks!” (which, interestingly, was the last Burton film without Depp, Bonham Carter or both in the cast). Of course, many also doubted 2005′s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which made roughly $475 million.

All of Burton’s films since 2001 have been produced by Richard D. Zanuck, now 77. He has been making movies since the 1950s, but that understates his experience. As the son of Hollywood mogul Darryl Zanuck and silent-film beauty Virginia Fox, he grew up in the business and may be the only working producer today who can say he’s visited a movie set in nine decades.

“I’ve never seen a movie like this one; it’s like no other,” Zanuck said of the film, penned by Seth Grahame-Smith, a writer perhaps most famous for his literary mash-up novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” “It’s like five movies in one. It’s a comedy, it’s a romance, it’s got special effects, it’s got action, it’s got some horror elements of a kind. I think it’s got a lot of great things going for it. We just have to find a way to let people know what it is and what it offers.”

There have been dark shadows under Burton’s eyes every day of 2012 and with good reason. In addition to the exhuming of Barnabas Collins, he’s got two other films that reach theaters this year (he’s the director of October’s “Frankenweenie” and producer of June’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) and long-range projects (such as the just-announced “Alice in Wonderland” Broadway musical) always nibble at the corners of his mind and the edges of his schedule.

In late February, his exhaustion was clear even across international phone lines. “I forget how hard it is at the end, just to get the movie done, but that’s probably a good thing,” the 53-year-old said. The filmmaker knows that soon he will have to put his strange creation in front of the world and hope that it survives the searing judgments and bottom-line numbers.

“I can’t think about all that right now,” Burton said. “The thing with this one was trying to get it done right. And I think we have but, well, that’s what I think.”

– Geoff Boucher

Photos: Burton, Depp on "Dark Shadows" Set

Two new images have surfaced of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton on the set of Dark Shadows, including a very high-resolution image of Depp as Baranabas Collins. Click on the pictures below to see them in their full size:

Click here to see the full scale of this picture.

(Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Video: New Version of "Dark Shadows" Trailer Features Alice Cooper

A new version of the first Dark Shadows trailer has surfaced. This cut is almost identical to the original, except it has the addition of a brief glimpse of Alice Cooper's cameo at the very end:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

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

The Washington Post's Speakeasy caught up with actor Benjamin Walker at WonderCon this weekend. In this interview, Walker discussed his leading performance in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, directed by Timur Bekmambetov:

Speakeasy: What did you first think of the project when you saw that outrageous title?

Benjamin Walker: Look at history and the past events of the last 100 years. There’s plenty of outrageous things out there. Of course, my first thought was who is directing it. They said Timur and I said great, I’m in. It could have been toilet paper and I would have been interested.

What were the producers looking for in a physical type and how did they fit you into that mold?

He has to be tall and it depended on who the prosthetics are going to work on. Greg Cannom and Will Huff creating a Lincoln sculpture that moved and became my face. You get to see Lincoln age from a young boy to an old man. They’re not doing computer generated stuff. It’s proper mask work.

Is it difficult to act through all of that makeup?

You do have to recalibrate what you think you’re exuding. I went to Julliard and we did a lot of mask work there, and I remember thinking in class, when am I ever going to use this? And now here we are.

How long did it take to apply your Lincoln face?

Six hours.

How did you fill those six hours in the chair? Language tapes?

Actually, sort of. We put up a little flat-screen TV and we just watched movies. I got to watch all of the great movies that I never got to see like all of [Japanese director Akira] Kurosawa, which was great for me. Not so great for the makeup people because they can’t read the subtitles so don’t know what’s going on. They just hear some Asian man crying for four hours.

Did you do much historical research to get into the role?

We did a lot of research and a lot of training. But the most interesting part was reading up on Lincoln. Doris Kearns has a great book, though it mostly covered his politics. “Lincoln’s Melancholy” fit right into what we’re doing. It’s about his depressive nature, his poetry, his relationship with death.

How did you merge that melancholy side of Lincoln with the action hero?

We’re playing Abraham from 19 to his death. You have to take into account the things that are affecting him through life to really affect him physically. The war must have been crippling. Just look at old photos that show him to be gaunt and translucent. Add the vampire storyline and you have a lot of material to work with.

What kind of physical training did you do?

Timur wanted the fighting style to be unique to Lincoln, so we did a lot of wushu and stuff they made up–a combination of ballet and violence. They also drew on bo staff, for example, this continuous motion that incorporates the entire length of your body.

Was the action pretty tightly choreographed? Or could you add your own flourishes?

As I got good at it, they let me have some freedom with it. Timur was very insistent on me doing it. Timur didn’t want to cut away to the back of some guy’s head. They wanted Lincoln’s face and ax killing a lot of people. So I did everything they let me do.

The ax work looks amazing.

Thanks, it’s the symbol of honesty and now it’s loping off the head of vampires. It’s a different way of looking at an icon and Lincoln.

Photo credit: Dennis Nishi

Video: Seth Grahame-Smith Plans to Write "Beetlejuice 2" This Year

Collider spoke to writer Seth Grahame-Smith this weekend at WonderCon. The screenwriter and novelist is keeping very busy, but stated that he plans on writing the first draft of a sequel to Beetlejuice this year. Here's a video:

Beetlejuice is hopefully the third thing I’m gonna write this year. I’ve met with Tim about it, I’ve met with Michael Keaton about it. There’s a lot of goodwill to want to do it from both of those guys; Tim from a producing aspect and Michael from returning to the character. Again, it’s on me. It’s whether or not I can come up with a script that’s worthy of them jumping back in.”

He continued: “I have a rough idea of what it’s gonna be. However—I should stress this—it’s not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it is a true sequel with Michael Keaton as the title character Beetlejuice. The thing that Tim and Michael and I all agree on, and is most important for me is, I don’t wanna be the guy that destroys the legacy and the memory of the first film; I would rather die. I would rather just not make it, I’d rather just throw the whole thing away than make something that pays no respect and doesn’t live up even close to the legacy of the first film.”

Grahame-Smith elaborated on applying a real-time time-frame to the sequel: “This will be a true 26 or 27 years later sequel. What’s great is that for Beetlejuice, time means nothing in the afterlife, but the world outside is a different story.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ashford to Direct "Alice" Stage Musical

Variety reports that Rob Ashford has been tapped by Disney Theatrical Prods. to direct and choreograph the stage musical version of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

A timeline has not be set for the production, but there is talk of the musical having its premiere in London, before it eventually appears on Broadway.

Also on board for the project are Linda Woolverton, who wrote the screenplay for the film and will be writing the book, and Richard D. Zanuck, one of the producers of the film and an exec producer of the legit tuner.

"Dark Shadows" Poster

Here is the official poster for Dark Shadows, coinciding with the release of the theatrical trailer:

Thursday, March 15, 2012