Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith talked about the difficulties of adapting the original television soap opera Dark Shadows with over 1,200 episodes into a single feature-length film:
"When I came into it, there had been materials that were given to me, DVDs of compilations that actual Dark Shadows experts had put together, like, these are the seminal moments. I was given book of characters and plot lines and just studied them. And then, I remember we had our first meeting — Tim [Burton] and Johnny [Depp] and I — [and] just sat around a table and started talking about the things that they loved about the show and talking about moments that would be fun to explore."
Grahame-Smith also said that Depp already had a certain style in mind for his performance of the vampire Barnabas Collins:
"I remember, that first meeting, Johnny was already getting up from the table, sort of pantomiming the rigidity of Barnabas and Tim was already talking about, 'Well what if your fingers were a joint longer,' and Johnny started to then mime touching things... So a lot actually was born in those early meetings early on and what I needed to know about the tone I relied on them because they were there watching the show as kids and loving the show and they still had that knowledge of it and that love for it."