Elfman and Burton reunited for Mars Attacks! (1996). Based on a popular science fiction trading card series, the film was a hybrid of 1950s science fiction and 1970s all-star disaster films. The film boasted an all-star cast, and although great fun, was a relative failure at the box-office.
Sleepy Hollow, released in late 1999, had a supernatural setting and another offbeat performance by Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, now a detective with an interest in forensic science rather than the schoolteacher of Washington Irving’s original tale. With Hollow, Burton paid homage to the horror films of the English company Hammer Films, Christopher Lee, was given a cameo role. Mostly well received by critics, and with a special mention to Elfman’s Gothic score, the film won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as two BAFTA’s for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. A box office success, Sleepy Hollow was also a turning point for Burton, he changed radically in style for his next project, leaving the haunted forests and colorful outcasts behind to go on to directing Planet of the Apes which, as Burton had repeatedly noted, was “not a remake” of the earlier film.
Planet of the Apes was a commercial success, grossing $68 million in its opening weekend. The film has received mixed reviews and is widely considered inferior to the first adaptation of the novel. In 2003, Burton directed Big Fish, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. The film is about a father telling the story of his life to his son using exaggeration and color.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, the film generally took a more faithful approach to the source material than the 1971 adaptation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, although some liberties were taken, such as adding Wonka’s issue with his father (played by Burton favourite Christopher Lee). The film made over $207 million domestically. Filming proved difficult as Burton and Danny Elfman had to work on this and Burton’s Corpse Bride at the same time.
Corpse Bride (2005) was Burton’s first full-length stop-motion film as a director, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (for whom the project was specifically created) as Emily in the lead roles. In this film, Burton was able again to use his familiar styles and trademarks, such as the complex interaction between light and darkness, and of being caught between two irreconcilable worlds.
The DreamWorks/Warner Bros. production was released on December 21, 2007. Burton’s work on Sweeney Todd won the National Board of Review Award for Best Director, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film blends explicit gore and Broadway tunes, and was well received by critics.
In 2005, filmmaker Shane Acker released his short film 9, a story about a sentient rag doll living in a post-apocalyptic world who tries to stop machines from destroying the rest of his eight fellow rag dolls. After seeing the short film, Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, director of Wanted, showed interest in producing a feature-length adaptation of the film.
Burton turned his hand to Alice in Wonderland, in his version, the story is set 13 years after the original Lewis Carroll tales. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Burton’s film Dark Shadows once again starred Johnny Depp, in the leading role. The film was based on the original Dark Shadows gothic soap opera, which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. It has received mixed to negative reviews from critics, some of whom think it is a tongue-in-cheek gothic comedy, visually appealing and fitting as an adaptation of the melodramatic soap opera, whereas others think the film has a very loose plot, is not particularly humorous, and that Burton and Depp’s collaborative efforts have worn thin.
In 2012, Shane Acker confirmed that Burton will be working with Valve to create his next animated feature film, Deep. Like 9, the film will be in a post-apocalyptic world, although it has no relation to the former film and is set in a different universe. Currently there is no set release date, although the film is rumoured to be released around 2014.
He also wrote and illustrated the poetry book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, published in 1997, and a compilation of his drawings, sketches and other artwork, entitled The Art of Tim Burton, was released in 2009. Numerous figurines, books and various memorabilia of his distinctive works are available.
Burton’s ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives, and he received his first big budget film, Batman. The production was plagued with problems and Burton repeatedly clashed with the film’s producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, but the most notable debacle involved casting. For the title role, Burton chose to cast Michael Keaton as Batman following their previous collaboration in Beetlejuice. Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a “bulked-up” ultra-masculine man as Batman, insisting that the Caped Crusader should be an ordinary (albeit fabulously wealthy) man. Burton also cast Jack Nicholson as The Joker in a move that helped assuage fans’ fears, as well as attracting older audiences not as interested in a superhero film.
When the film opened in June 1989, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing well over $400 million worldwide (numbers not adjusted for inflation) and earning critical acclaim for the performances of both Keaton and Nicholson. The success of the film helped establish Burton as a profitable director.
In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. His friend Johnny Depp was cast in the title role of Edward, who was the creation of an eccentric and old-fashioned inventor (played by Vincent Price in one of his last screen appearances). Edward looked human, but was left with scissors in the place of hands due to the untimely death of his creator. Set in suburbia, the film is largely seen as Burton’s autobiography of his childhood in Burbank. Price at one point is said to have remarked, “Tim is Edward.” Depp wrote a similar comment in the foreword to Mark Salisbury’s book, Burton on Burton, regarding his first meeting with Burton over the casting of the film. Edward is considered one of Burton’s best movies by some critics.
Burton agreed to direct the sequel for Warner Brothers on the condition that he would be granted total control. The result was Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton returning as the Dark Knight, and a new triad of villains: Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, an evil corporate tycoon and original character created for the film. Darker and considerably more personal than its predecessor, concerns were raised that the film was too scary for children. Audiences were even more uncomfortable at the film’s overt sexuality, personified by the sleek, fetish-inspired styling of Catwoman’s costume. Burton made many changes to the Penguin which would be applied to the Penguin in both comics and television. While in the comics, he was an ordinary man, Burton created a freak of nature resembling a penguin with webbed, flipper-like fingers, a hooked, beak-like nose, and a penguin-like body (resulting in a rotund, obese man). Released in 1992, Batman Returns grossed $282.8 million worldwide, making it another financial success, though not to the extent of its predecessor.
Next, Burton wrote and produced but did not direct, due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) for Disney, originally meant to be a children’s book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick, based on Burton’s original story, world and characters. The film received positive reviews for the film’s stop motion animation, musical score and original storyline and was a box office success, grossing $50 million. A deleted scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas features a group of vampires playing hockey on the frozen pond with the decapitated head of Burton. The head was replaced by a jack-o’-lantern in the final version.
In 1994, Burton and frequent co-producer Denise Di Novi produced the 1994 fantasy-comedy Cabin Boy. His next film, and I believe his best, Ed Wood (1994), was of a much smaller scale, depicting the life of Ed Wood, a filmmaker sometimes called “the worst director of all time”. Starring Johnny Depp in the title role, the film is an homage to the low-budget science fiction and horror films of Burton’s childhood, and handles its comical protagonist and his motley band of collaborators with surprising fondness and sensitivity. Owing to creative squabbles during the making of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman declined to score Ed Wood, and the assignment went to Howard Shore. While a commercial failure at the time of its release, Ed Wood was well received by critics. Martin Landau received an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi, as well as the Academy Award for Best make-up.
Having been overlooked for Batman Forever by the Warner Bros. heirachy, Burton reunited with Henry Selick for the musical fantasy James and the Giant Peach, based on the book by Roald Dahl. The film, a combination of live action and stop motion footage was mostly praised by critics, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (by Disney regular Randy Newman).
Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American film director, producer, writer and artist. He is famous for his dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Dark Shadows, and blockbusters such as Batman, Batman Returns, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.
Burton was born in 1958, in the city of Burbank, California, to Jean and Bill Burton. As a child, Burton would make short films in his backyard using crude stop motion animation techniques or shoot them on 8 mm film without sound. His future work would be heavily influenced by the works of such childhood heroes as Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, as well as Edgar Allan Poe and horror and science fiction, such as Godzilla, and films made by Hammer Productions, the works of Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price.
After graduating from Burbank High School, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts to study character animation. Some of his now-famous classmates were John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker and Henry Selick. As a student in CalArts, Burton made the shorts Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus. They remain only in fragments today.
Burton graduated from CalArts in 1979. The success of his short film Stalk of the Celery Monster attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions animation studio, who offered young Burton an animator’s apprenticeship. He worked as an animator, storyboard artist and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron.
While at Disney in 1982, Burton made his first short, Vincent, a six-minute black-and-white stop-motion film based on a poem written by the filmmaker, and depicting a young boy who fantasizes that he is his (and Burton’s) hero Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration. This was followed by Burton’s first live-action production Hansel and Gretel, a Japanese-themed adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, which climaxes in a kung fu fight between Hansel and Gretel and the witch. Having aired once at 10:30 pm on Halloween 1983 and promptly shelved, prints of the film are extremely difficult to locate, which contributes to the rumor that this project does not exist. (In 2009, the short went on display in the Museum of Modern Art, and in 2011 the short also played at the Tim Burton art exhibit at the LACMA).
Burton’s next live-action short, Frankenweenie, was released in 1984. It tells the story of a young boy who tries to revive his dog after it is run over by a car. Filmed in black-and-white, it stars Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern. After Frankenweenie was completed, Disney fired Burton, under the pretext of him spending the company’s resources on doing a film that would be too dark and scary for children to see.
Pursuing then an opportunity to make a full-length film, he was approached by Griffin Dunne to direct the black comedy film After Hours, however, after Martin Scorsese’s project The Last Temptation of Christ was cancelled (although it would later be completed and released in 1988), he stepped in to direct it. Not long after, actor Paul Reubens saw Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-Wee Herman. The film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), was made on a budget of $8 million and grossed more than $40 million at the box office. Burton, a fan of the eccentric musical group Oingo Boingo, asked songwriter Danny Elfman to provide the music for the film. Since then, Elfman has provided the score for all but five of the films Burton has directed and/or produced.
After directing episodes for the revitalised version of TV series of ’50s/’60s anthology horror series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Burton received his next big project: Beetlejuice (1988), a supernatural comedy horror about a young couple forced to cope with life after death, as well as a family of pretentious yuppies invading their treasured New England home including their teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) whose obsession with death allows her to see them. Featuring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, the film grossed $80 million on a relatively low budget and won an Academy Award for Best Make-up. It would be converted into a cartoon of the same name, with Burton playing a role as executive producer, that ran on ABC and later Fox.
In addition to doing films in the United Kingdom, Lee did movies in Mainland Europe: he appeared in Count Dracula, where he again played the vampire count, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, Castle of the Living Dead and Horror Express.
Since the mid 1970s, Lee has eschewed horror roles almost entirely. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond spy novels and Lee’s stepcousin, had offered him the role of Dr No in the first official Bond film. Lee accepted, but the producers had already cast the role. In 1974, Lee finally got to play a James Bond villain when he was cast as the deadly assassin Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.
In 1982, Lee appeared in The Return of Captain Invincible. In this film, Lee plays a fascist who plans to rid America (and afterwards, the world) of all non-whites. Lee sings on two tracks in the film (“Name Your Poison” and “Mister Midnight”), written by Richard O’Brien (who had written The Rocky Horror Picture Show seven years previously) and Richard Hartley.
In 1985, he appeared in Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch. In 1998, Lee starred in the role of Muhammad Al Jinnah, founder of modern Pakistan, in the film Jinnah. While talking about his favourite role in film at a press conference, he declared that his role in Jinnah was by far his best performance.
Lee played Saruman in the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. In the commentary, he states he had a decades-long dream to play Gandalf but that he was now too old and his physical limitations prevented his being considered. The role of Saruman, by contrast, required no horseback riding and much less fighting. Lee had met Tolkien once (making him the only person inThe Lord of the Rings film trilogy to have done so) and makes a habit of reading the novels at least once a year. Lee’s appearance in the third film was cut from the theatrical release. However, the scene was reinstated in the extended edition.
The Lord of the Rings marked the beginning of a major career revival that continued in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which he played Count Dooku. His autobiography states that he did much of the swordplay himself, though a double was required for the more vigorous footwork.
Lee has also become a regular in many of Tim Burton’s films, five times since 1999. He had a small role as the Burgomaster in the film Sleepy Hollow (1999), Lee then went on to voice the character of Pastor Galswells in Corpse Bride (2005), and play a small role in the Burton’s reimagining of the Roald Dahl tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). His part was cut from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). He voiced the Jabberwocky in Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic book Alice in Wonderland (2010). In 2012, Lee marked his fifth collaboration with Tim Burton by appearing in his film adaptation of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.
In 2011, Lee appeared in The Resident and the critically acclaimed Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese. Lee will be reprising the role of Saruman for the Lord of the Rings prequel film The Hobbit.
In 2001, Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2009. In 2011, Lee was awarded the BAFTA Academy Fellowship by Tim Burton.