List of unproduced Tim Burton projects

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The following is a list of unproduced Tim Burton projects, in roughly chronological order. During a career that has spanned over 30 years, Tim Burton has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction.

1980s[edit]

After the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), and before his hiring of Beetlejuice (1988), Warner Bros. sent Burton various scripts. He was disheartened by their lack of imagination and originality, one of them being Hot to Trot (1988).[1]

1990s[edit]

Conversations with Vincent[edit]

Burton held a fascination with Vincent Price films since his childhood. He first worked with the actor on the 1982 short film, Vincent. During the production of Edward Scissorhands (1990), in which Price portrayed the Inventor, Burton conceived the idea of making an independent documentary film on the actor,[2] using the working title Conversations with Vincent.[3] With self-financing from his own production company, Burton shot the film in black-and-white over a three-day period at the Vincent Price Gallery in East Los Angeles College in April 1991. In addition to Price, Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff were interviewed. Conversations with Vincent was stalled when Burton went to work on Batman Returns (1992),[2] and after Price's death in October 1993.[3] In December 1994 it was announced that Burton was returning to the hour-long documentary, now titled A Visit with Vincent. Lucy Chase Williams, author of The Complete Films of Vincent Price, was working as a consultant. The film likely would have been released in the direct-to-video market,[4] but the project was ultimately abandoned and remains unfinished.[2]

Tim Burton's Lost in Oz[edit]

Tim Burton's Lost in Oz would be a television series based on L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz book series. Burton would be its executive producer. A pilot episode was scripted, but the series became unproduced due to budget constraints.

Mai, the Psychic Girl[edit]

Beginning in the late-1980s, New Wave rock band Sparks attempted to make the Japanese manga Mai, the Psychic Girl into a musical, with interest from Burton[5] and Carolco Pictures,[6] who purchased the film rights in August 1991. Carolco hoped Burton would start production in 1992, but he chose to work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and Ed Wood for Disney.[7] The option on the film rights eventually expired, and Burton dropped out.[5] Francis Ford Coppola later developed the property in the 1990s. In June 2000, Sony Pictures Entertainment started on a new different project with Kirk Wong attached to direct.[8] By February 2001, a script had been written by Lisa Addario and Joey Syracuse for Sony's Columbia Pictures.[9] The release of The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, a radio musical by Sparks, in August 2009, was informed by the six years the band spent trying to get their Mai the Psychic Girl produced. The album generated new interest, and gained a "second wind", vocalist Russell Mael explained. "The music is all ready and we are hoping that this still might see the light of day.”[5]

Jurassic Park[edit]

Before Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park was published, Hollywood studios were highly interested in purchasing the film rights. This included Warner Bros. and Burton, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Richard Donner, and 20th Century Fox and Joe Dante.[10] Universal Pictures acquired the rights in May 1990 for Steven Spielberg, resulting in the 1993 film adaptation.[11]

Mary Reilly[edit]

Producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber acquired the film rights to Mary Reilly in 1989, and optioned them for Warner Bros. with Roman Polanski as director.[12] When Guber became CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment later that year, he moved Mary Reilly to Sony's sister company, TriStar Pictures, where Burton was approached to direct with Denise Di Novi to produce in 1991.[13] Christopher Hampton was hired to write the screenplay, and Burton signed on as director in January 1993, after he approved over Hampton's rewrite.[12] He intended to start filming in January 1994, after he completed Ed Wood,[14] but Burton dropped out in May 1993 over his anger against Guber for putting Ed Wood in turnaround. Stephen Frears was TriStar's first choice to replace Burton, and Di Novi was fired and replaced with Ned Tanen.[13] The film ended up becoming the critically and commercially unsuccessful Mary Reilly in 1996, starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich.

Catwoman[edit]

"After the traumas of the Batman Returns she has amnesia, and she doesn't really remember why she has all these bullet holes in her body, so she goes to relax in Oasisburg. What Gotham City is to New York, Oasisburg is to Las Vegas-Los Angeles-Palm Springs. [It's a] resort area in the middle of the desert. It's run by superheroes, and the movie has great fun at making fun at the whole male superhero mythos. Then they end up being not very good at all deep down, and she's got to go back to that whole Catwoman thing."

—Daniel Waters on his script for Catwoman[15]

Batman Returns would be the last film in the Warner Bros. Batman film series that featured Burton and Michael Keaton as director and leading actor. With Batman Forever, Warner Bros. decided to go in a "lighter" direction to be more mainstream in the process of a family film. Burton had no interest in returning to direct a sequel, but was credited as a producer.[16] With Warner Bros. moving on development for Batman Forever in June 1993, a Catwoman spin-off was announced. Michelle Pfeiffer was to reprise her role, with the character not to appear in Forever because of her own spin-off.[17]

Burton became attached as director, while producer Denise Di Novi and writer Daniel Waters also returned.[18] In January 1994, Burton was unsure of his plans to direct Catwoman or an adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher.[19] On June 6, 1995, Waters turned in his Catwoman script to Warner Bros., the same day Batman Forever was released. Burton was still being courted to direct. Waters joked, "turning it in the day Batman Forever opened may not have been my best logistical move, in that it's the celebration of the fun-for-the-whole-family Batman. Catwoman is definitely not a fun-for-the-whole-family script."[15] In an August 1995 interview, Pfeiffer re-iterated her interest in the spin-off, but explained her priorities would be challenged as a mother and commitments to other projects.[20] The film labored in development hell for years, with Pfeiffer replaced by Ashley Judd. The film ended up becoming the critically panned Catwoman (2004), starring Halle Berry.[21][22]

Superman Lives[edit]

After Kevin Smith had been hired to write a new Superman film, he suggested Burton to direct.[23] Burton came on and Warner Bros. set a theatrical release date for the summer of 1998, the 60th anniversary of the character's debut in Action Comics.[24] Nicolas Cage was signed on to play Superman, Burton hired Wesley Strick to rewrite Smith's script and the film entered pre-production in June 1997. For budgetary reasons, Warner Bros. ordered another rewrite from Dan Gilroy, delayed the film and ultimately put it on hold in April 1998. Burton then left to direct Sleepy Hollow.[24] Burton has depicted the experience as a difficult one, citing differences with producer Jon Peters and the studio, stating, "I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don't really want to be working with."[25]

2010s[edit]

Addams Family Stop-motion animated film[edit]

In 2010, it was announced that Illumination Entertainment, in partnership with Universal Pictures, had acquired the underlying rights to the Addams Family drawings.[26] The film was planned to be a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams's original drawings. Tim Burton was set to co-write and co-produce the film, with a possibility to direct.[27] In July 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled.[28]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Salisbury, Burton, pp. 54
  2. ^ a b c Hanke, pp. 116, 187
  3. ^ a b Salisbury, Burton, pp. 98
  4. ^ Staff (1994-12-09). "Upcoming Projects for Tim Burton and Keanu Reeves". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Joseph Galliano (2009-10-30). "Striking Sparks with Bergman". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  6. ^ Jay Carr (1991-03-03). "Batman to battle DeVito's Penguin". The Boston Globe. 
  7. ^ Jeff Yang (2009-08-06). "The Pokemon generation grows up". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  8. ^ Dana Harris (2000-06-11). "Wong to helm SPE's 'Psychic'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  9. ^ Claude Brodesser; Cathy Dunkley (2001-02-18). "U opens its heart to Addario, Syracuse spec". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  10. ^ Joseph McBride (1997). Steven Spielberg: A Biography. Faber and Faber, 416–9. ISBN 0-571-19177-0
  11. ^ Jurassic Park DVD production notes
  12. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-01-11). "Fox mulls playing 'Pat' hand; TriStar woos Woo". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  13. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-05-03). "Burton's off 'Reilly'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  14. ^ Staff (1993-02-04). "TriStar Pictures slate for 1993". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  15. ^ a b Judy Sloane (August 1995). "Daniel Waters on Writing", Film Review, pp. 67-69
  16. ^ Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, Joel Schumacher, The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight: Reinventing a Hero, 2005, Warner Home Video
  17. ^ Michael Fleming (1993-06-17). "Dish". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  18. ^ Michael Fleming (1993-07-22). "Another life at WB for Catwoman and Burton?". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  19. ^ Michael Fleming (1994-01-13). "Seagal on the pulpit may be too much for WB". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  20. ^ Tim Egan (1995-08-06). "Michelle Pfeiffer, Sensuous to Sensible". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ Michael Fleming (2001-04-02). "WB: Judd purr-fect as Cat". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  22. ^ "Catwoman". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  23. ^ Edward Gross (May 12, 2000). "SUPERMAN LIVES, Part 2: Writer Kevin Smith". Mania Movies. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  24. ^ a b Ken Hanke (1999). Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker. Renaissance Books. pp. 213–8. ISBN 1-58063-162-2. 
  25. ^ Paul A. Woods (2007). Tim Burton: A Child's Garden of Nightmares. Plexus Publishing. p. 150. ISBN 0-85965-401-X. 
  26. ^ Mike Fleming (2010-03-18). "Tim Burton's Next 3D Animated Film? Da Da Da Da, Snap Snap: 'The Addams Family'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  27. ^ Fleming, Mike (2010-08-19). "Tim Burton Reunites With 'Ed Wood' Scribes For 'Addams Family' And 'Big Eyes'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  28. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. "At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. “Waldo” and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion “The Addams Family” are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn’t crack “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”"