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Tim Burton and John August Developing Dark Shadows

by
June 2, 2008
Source: IESB

Dark Shadows

Although legendary filmmaker Tim Burton has both Frankenweenie and Alice in Wonderland in the works, it seems he's also got his eyes set on a revamp of Dark Shadows. The project is an updated remake of the 60's daytime supernatural soap opera that starred Jonathan Frid as a 175-year-old vampire named Barnabas Collins. Johnny Depp has been rumored to be involved not only as a producer but actually as Barnabas, but not much else was known about the project until today. IESB discovered this past weekend that Tim Burton is likely going to direct and John August is working on patching up the script. What a powerful trifecta: Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and John August - the same three who brought us both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride previously.

While none of this has actually been officially announced, IESB picked up their scoop straight from Peter Segal, who is working with John August on the Shazam! script. An adaptation of Dark Shadows has been in the works for quite a while, but seems to be stuck in development hell for the time being. Maybe Burton and August will finally whip it into shape and get it greenlit. I'm sure if Get Smart is successful at the box office this summer, Dark Shadows will be pushed into production, because Hollywood will think that remakes of old 1960's TV shows are guaranteed hits. But are they really?

Dark Shadows first aired in 1966 and ran for an incredible 1225 episodes until 1971. The show was a highly atmospheric, spooky soap that featured gothic horror staples like vampires, monsters, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies. I've actually never heard of this show, so someone please tell me that it has the makings of a dark thriller. As much as I trust Burton, Depp, and August, the original show sounds far too campy to actually be remade into something with value. However, I could be completely wrong this time. Maybe it could blossom into something great?

I'm curious if people are still enjoying Tim Burton's dark, atmospheric films, like Sweeney Todd. I know Ken loved Sweeney Todd and those who saw it generally enjoyed it, but I'm just curious whether he's starting to burn out. I'm not saying he's a bad director, in fact I think he's one of the best, I'm just wondering whether this project actually has the makings of a hit or will be just another dull dark thriller. For once I have absolutely no interest in a project and I'm asking if someone can tell me why this could be good. Does Dark Shadows have the makings of a great Tim Burton movie?

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  • Nettle
    I've never even heard of Dark Shadows until now, so I think I'll have to wait for a trailer. I don't think he's burned out though. Alice in Wonderland+Tim Burton=win.
  • Melissa
    A) Have I been under a rock? How do I not know about Burton & Wonderland? The only Alice I keep hearing about is the one based on the video game. But yay! and 2)If Johnny Depp really does play Barnabus, I might actually die. (sorry to spread the fangirl around, but holy cow!) I loved both the original and the remake of Dark Shadows- I think Burton could manage to really make a good movie out of Dark Shadows. I hope.
  • Shauna
    I think that's freaking awesome. I used to watch that as a kid....my dad watched it I guess, and it went back on the air one summer, so I watched it to. I think it will be interesting to see Burton's take on it. I'm rather excited for this. :) Who's going to be scoring for Dark Shadows? And Alice In Wonderland seems like it's in good hands.
  • John
    Tim Burton is genius. I have never been disappointing by a movie of his yet. I have high expectations for all of his films.
  • Mike Avallone
    I also watched Dark Shadows when I was about 10 years old. It was a great show. I think Tim Burton would definitely make a great movie. There was also a movie made called House of dark Shadows that was great too. Scared me as a kid. I loved it.
  • Kendra
    My mother was a huge Dark Shadows fan when she was younger. She rarely follows movies but has pestered me to no end for news about Dark Shadows. I'm glad to finally be able to tell her something and, as a Tim Burton fan, be able to watch it with her.
  • Rob
    This is great news. Tim Burton is probably my favorite director. "Planet of the Apes" and "Mars Attacks" aside, I've loved all of his films. He is a true visionary. And no, I don't think he's burning out at all. I like Tim like I like my coffee. DARK! Well, I'm a tea drinker. I just couldn't resist a bad joke.
  • Sounds cool.
  • Reading the Wiki page it said Burton, Depp and Madonna(???) were a;; fans of the series so it makes sense.
  • IHateChildren
    Interesting...Depp's involved, so I'm already half-interested. Well, I hope he pulls an American McGee and makes a creepy-ass Alice in Wonderland. Too many damn colors in the original. My eyes still burn from watching it.
  • Candy Castle
    sounds promising!!!
  • Roxy
    I'm a devotee of The Shads (Dark Shadows), and I think the elements are there for a terrific movie, however, I am ambivalent about Tim Burton. I love his early work (Pee-Wee through Ed Wood), but found James and the Giant Peach and Mars Attacks! to be absolutely dire. Got some enjoyment from Sleepy Hollow, but still, it seems to me he sometimes is too focused on the look of a production and doesn't give enough attention to the narrative. Reasons it could be great: -DS has a great creepy, gothic vibe that could be incredible done on an epic scale. -With more than 1200+ episodes they wound up using pretty much every supernatural being for a storyline, so the filmmakers have a LOT to choose from in terms of storylines and secondary characters for the film. -The Barnabas-Josette-Angelique love triangle is a classic situation that again, could be terrific for film. Angelique is a particularly fantastic character, as she's a witch who's driven by jealousy and revenge to make Barnabas's life a living hell. Since he's a vampire, that basically means she makes him suffer for all eternity. I would be VERY surprised if this triangle is not the focus of the film. Reasons it could suck -Part of the charm of Dark Shadows is the ramshackle nature of it. It's an old soap opera, and they were all done "live on tape," meaning they didn't have time to edit and therefore basically put on a play in front of cameras every day. Therefore, people will forget lines, mis-read the teleprompter, bump into "stone" walls that shake under a gentle bump, revealing themselves to be cardboard, etc. Also, the special effects are blue-screen effects, skeletons held up by a string, etc. Devotees of DS love this, but obviously it won't be part of the film, which might put off some DS fans. -Burton can be brilliant or lousy as a director. It's a coin toss. -Great casting is crucial. I, for one, don't want to see Helena Bonham-Carter as either Angelique or Josette. Depp could be a kick-ass Barnabas, but who knows whether Burton will cast the rest of the film well. Again, a coin toss. Summary: I think it's an interesting idea, and will be following development of this project to see if it seems to be shaping up well. Depending on how things go, this could be the first Burton film I've seen in the theater since Sleepy Hollow!
  • RStewie
    Lol, this is going to make my mom's day! She loved the Dark Shadows series, AND she loves Depp (mainly for his Capt. Sparrow glorious-ness), so I'm excited to tell her about this new development. Please keep us posted on this one.
  • karl
    man, does anyone else wish this wouldn't happen? why not just make a new movie eh tim? his last few have been adaptations or just sucked ass plus.. dark shadows was funny, but has no no no no no good reason to come back its just burton being gimmicky.... again
  • Hector
    Tim Burton's last film "Sweeney Todd" was great!, and I'm not fan of the musicals. I hope he can finish some of his projects soon! he seems to have so much on the waiting line.
  • Jonathan
    Dark Shadows was remade in 1991 (by the original series' creator, the late Dan Curtis). It made 12 episodes for NBC and was a darker, more atmospheric gothic romance. The show was cancelled for various reasons (a change in NBC management and decreased ratings often attributed to the news coverage of the first Gulf War). Another version of the series was prepped by Dan Curtis a few years ago for WB, but only a pilot was made. The original show retains a strong cult following complete with annual conventions, memorabilia, and the occasional novel. In short, the show has remake potential (with or without the success of Get Smart, devotees have wanted a new Shadows for years). And, given the track record of Depp and Burton, a campy Shadows would be as fitting as a dark and serious one.
  • pamelas
    wow I can not believe it my fav. actor playing my fav. vampire I love it I am so excited. I would run home after school to watch Dark Shadows watch this 50 year old run to the movies after work to see this movie
  • Judi
    Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp + Tim Burton = Awesome Fun and Dark Sexiness. I hope that go throw with this!!!!
  • Judi
    spelling error with the "throw" I meant "through" sorry (hehe)
  • Roy M. Giles
    All I have to say is . Everyone was crazy about Dark Shadows. Also, everyone was crazy about Charmed. Why not make a series or movie where the chamed one have to visit Collinwood. Now!!! There would be one HELL!!! Of a series or movie. I've already started on thr beginning of this. If you want to miss out on the profits go ahead!!! Sincerely, Akiemano A. Shontock
  • The thing people don't seem to get about the original 1960's show is that they were not making it to be campy. They were serious about what they were doing and they had assembled primarily stage actors who play their roles much differently than film or TV actors tend to. Unfortunately, a lot of people can't get past the low budget production values. When I saw the show as a child in the 1960's, I saw it one way, but when I saw it again on video as an adult, I saw the show operating on so many more levels than simply just scaring people. Barnabas was essentially a man who just wanted to go home. Why he could not makes for one of the greatest tragic love stories ever televised. I said a lot more about Barnabas here: http://beautifulpast.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-heart-cries-aloud-for-thee-portrait.html Dark Shadows pioneered use of the blue screen special effects on daytime television along with using orchestral music instead of a cheesy organ. They borrowed heavily from 19th Century literature as well as H.P. Lovecraft. They were ahead of their time with quantum physics with Quentin's stairway into Time and also the parallel Collinwood stories. When you consider what the typical 1960's soap opera was like, Dark Shadows really pushed the limits of storytelling. No soap has ever successfully duplicated it. A lot of vampire storytellers including Anne Rice owe Dan Curtis and his old soap a huge debt. I hope that Depp and Burton get this. Use the original theme music and some of Robert Cobert's original music cues and tell a good honest story about how Barnabas became a vampire, tell it seriously, tragically and romantically and you'll have all of us middle aged DS fans buying repeat movie tickets and DVDs and bring aboard a whole new generation of fans.
  • Jen
    Getting tired of Burton. Getting tired of the whole Burton, his god awful wife and Depp (nothing against Depp) triangle. Burton has no creativity left, its all the same. I loved Dark Shadows and like Willy Wonka remake (terrible!!!!) he will ruin that too.

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