Tim Burton's unrealized 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.


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]


Conversations with Vincent[edit]

Burton held a fascination with Vincent Price films since his childhood. He first worked with the actor on the 1982 television film Hansel and Gretel, and a second collaboration 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]

Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian[edit]

In 1990, Burton hired writer Jonathan Gems for write a sequel to Beetlejuice, entitled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian.[5] However, nothing came of this project. In early 1991, Burton was still interested in directing the sequel, and hired Daniel Waters to rewrite the script, but the two decided to focus on Batman Returns. In 1996, Warner Bros. decided to hire Kevin Smith to write another script, but he turned down the offer to write the script of the unmade Superman Lives.[6]

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[7] and Carolco Pictures,[8] 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 Touchstone Pictures.[9] The option on the film rights eventually expired, and Burton dropped out.[7] 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.[10] By February 2001, a script had been written by Lisa Addario and Joey Syracuse for Sony's Columbia Pictures.[11] 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."[7]

Stay Tuned[edit]

Morgan Creek Productions originally wanted Burton to direct Stay Tuned because of his work on Beetlejuice and his art style, but Burton left the project to direct Batman Returns, the sequel to his 1989 Batman film, and was replaced by Peter Hyams while having some of the art styles paying tribute to Burton.

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.[12] Universal Pictures acquired the rights in May 1990 for Steven Spielberg, resulting in the 1993 film adaptation.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] Christopher Hampton was hired to write the screenplay, and Burton signed on as director in January 1993, after he approved over Hampton's rewrite.[14] He intended to start filming in January 1994, after he completed Ed Wood,[16] 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.[15] The film ended up becoming the critically and commercially unsuccessful Mary Reilly in 1996, starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich.


"After the traumas of 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 City, 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[17]

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 producer.[18] 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.[19]

Burton became attached as director, while producer Denise Di Novi and writer Daniel Waters also returned.[20] In January 1994, Burton was unsure of his plans to direct Catwoman or an adaptation of "The Fall of the House of Usher".[21] 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."[17] 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.[22] 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.[23][24]

Batman 3[edit]

During the early development of the cancelled Catwoman spin-off, Burton expressed his interest in directing the third installment of the Batman film series that began with Batman in 1989.[25] The Monkees lead drummer Micky Dolenz was attached to star as the Riddler, the film's main antagonist.[26] Also, Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face was supposed to occur in the film, with Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Dent from the first film,[27] after turning down the offer of appear in Batman Returns.[28] Along with these, Michelle Pfeiffer was attached to return as Catwoman,[29] Marlon Wayans was attached to star as Robin,[30] and Rene Russo was attached to star as Dr. Chase Meridian.[31] However, when Warner Bros. observed that the script was just as gloomy as the previous film, they decided to put Joel Schumacher as the director of the third installment, leading to the release of Batman Forever, in which Burton served as producer,[32] without being able to contribute ideas.

The Fall of the House of Usher[edit]

In 1994, Burton was close to directing an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" with a screenplay by Jonathan Gems;[33] he chose to direct Mars Attacks! instead.[33]

The Hawkline Monster[edit]

Burton was to direct The Hawkline Monster, a western/monster film that was to star Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, with a screenplay by Jonathan Gems; he chose to direct Mars Attacks! instead.

Go Baby Go[edit]

Burton considered directing Go Baby Go, a beach film in the style of filmmaker Russ Meyer, with a screenplay by Jonathan Gems; he chose to direct Mars Attacks! instead.

Dinosaurs Attack![edit]

Around 1995, writer Jonathan Gmes wrote a screenplay for a film adaptation of Dinosaurs Attack!, with Burton as director. However, both Burton and Gems came to the conclusion that the project was too similar to Jurassic Park.[34]

Superman Lives[edit]

After Kevin Smith had been hired to write a new Superman film, he suggested Burton to direct.[35] 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.[36] 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.[36] 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."[37]


When the Goosebumps film was in early production and was going to be made by 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks, Burton was originally going to produce it in 1998 and was attached to it.[38] However, the project fell through and was later sold to Sony Pictures Entertainment.

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes[edit]

Burton developed a script for a remake of the 1963 science fiction B-film X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes with writer Bryan Goluboff, but it went unproduced.[citation needed]

Black Sunday[edit]

Around this time, Burton considered directing a remake of the 1960 Italian horror film Black Sunday.[citation needed]


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 filmed in 2000, but the series became unproduced due to budget constraints.[39]

Ripley's Believe It or Not![edit]

During the early 2000s, Burton was scheduled to direct a film based on the famous Ripley's Believe It or Not! franchise, with Jim Carrey portraying Robert Ripley and a script by Ed Wood scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; the film ran over budget however, and was shelved by Paramount Pictures. Burton moved on to direct Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. On January 12, 2011, it was reported that Paramount had revived development of the film with screenwriter Eric Roth, with Carrey still attached.[40]

The Nightmare Before Christmas sequel[edit]

In 2001, The Walt Disney Company began to consider producing a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas, but rather than using stop motion, Disney wanted to use computer animation.[41] Burton convinced Disney to drop the idea. "I was always very protective of Nightmare not to do sequels or things of that kind," Burton explained. "You know, 'Jack visits Thanksgiving world' or other kinds of things just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it... Because it's a mass-market kind of thing, it was important to kind of keep that purity of it."[42]

Planets of the Apes sequel[edit]

After the financial success of Planet of the Apes, Burton supposed that 20th Century Fox would hire him to make a sequel, that was planned to explain the cliffhanger ending of the first film;[43] but without reason, the studio decided to reboot the franchise and in 2011, released Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator[edit]

On July 11, 2005, Burton stated that he and Johnny Depp didn't have intentions of making a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on the Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator novel.[44] Despite this, some elements of Great Glass Elevator were seen at the end of Burton's film.


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.[45] The film was planned to be a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams's original drawings. Burton was set to co-write and co-produce the film, with a possibility to direct.[46] In July 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled.[47]


In May 2010, DreamWorks announced that it had acquired the rights to a film adaptation of Monsterpocalypse, a Kaiju-themed collectible miniatures game.[48] The studio had approached Burton for the project.[49] On July 19, 2010, it was confirmed that Burton was attached to direct,[50] but the film went unproduced.

The Hunckback of Notre-Dame[edit]

In March 2011, it was announced that Burton was attached to direct a film of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which was supposed to feature and be co-produced by Josh Brolin but the film has been scrapped.[51][52]

Pirates of the Caribbean 5[edit]

In June 2011, it was reported that Burton was being considered to be selected as the director for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series,[53] but he chose to direct Frankenweenie.


Burton was briefly attached to direct Maleficent for Walt Disney Pictures in 2011, but chose to pursue Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie instead.[54]


Robert Downey Jr. enlisted Burton to direct a Warner Bros. retelling of The Adventures of Pinocchio in 2012. Burton pursued Big Eyes and Ben Stiller was attached to direct.[55]

Dark Shadows sequel[edit]

On May 18, 2012, Collider.com mentioned that the ending of Dark Shadows lends itself to a possible sequel.[56] When Burton was asked if he thought that this could be a possible start to a franchise, he replied, "No. Because of the nature of it being like a soap opera, that was the structure. It wasn't a conscious decision. First of all, it's a bit presumptuous to think that. If something works out, that's one thing, but you can't ever predict that. [The ending] had more to do with the soap opera structure of it."[57]


  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. ^ "6 Insane Sequels That Almost Ruined Classic Movies". 
  6. ^ An Evening With Kevin Smith (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2002. 
  7. ^ a b c Joseph Galliano (2009-10-30). "Striking Sparks with Bergman". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  8. ^ Jay Carr (1991-03-03). "Batman to battle DeVito's Penguin". The Boston Globe. 
  9. ^ Jeff Yang (2009-08-06). "The Pokemon generation grows up". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  10. ^ Dana Harris (2000-06-11). "Wong to helm SPE's 'Psychic'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  11. ^ Claude Brodesser; Cathy Dunkley (2001-02-18). "U opens its heart to Addario, Syracuse spec". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  12. ^ Joseph McBride (1997). Steven Spielberg: A Biography. Faber and Faber, 416–9. ISBN 0-571-19177-0
  13. ^ Jurassic Park DVD production notes
  14. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-01-11). "Fox mulls playing 'Pat' hand; TriStar woos Woo". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  15. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-05-03). "Burton's off 'Reilly'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  16. ^ Staff (1993-02-04). "TriStar Pictures slate for 1993". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  17. ^ a b Judy Sloane (August 1995). "Daniel Waters on Writing", Film Review, pp. 67-69
  18. ^ Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, Joel Schumacher, The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight: Reinventing a Hero, 2005, Warner Home Video
  19. ^ Michael Fleming (1993-06-17). "Dish". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  20. ^ Michael Fleming (1993-07-22). "Another life at WB for Catwoman and Burton?". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  21. ^ Michael Fleming (1994-01-13). "Seagal on the pulpit may be too much for WB". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  22. ^ Tim Egan (1995-08-06). "Michelle Pfeiffer, Sensuous to Sensible". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Michael Fleming (2001-04-02). "WB: Judd purr-fect as Cat". Variety. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  24. ^ "Catwoman". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  25. ^ Kamdan (21 June 2014). "Tim Burton's Biography & The Directors Batman Segments" – via YouTube. 
  26. ^ ngedit@niagara-gazette.com, Thom Jennings. "Micky Dolenz embraces his Monkees past". 
  27. ^ "Billy Dee Williams Talks Two-Face, Did Not Get Paid For Batman Forever". 
  28. ^ About_faceswrote, 2012-11-14 04:24:00 About_faces About_faces 2012-11-14 04:24:00. "Stories That Never Were: the Harvey Dent we DIDN'T see in Tim Burton's "Batman" movies". 
  29. ^ "Whatever Happened to the Tim Burton Catwoman Movie?". 
  30. ^ "Marlon Wayans - - A.V. Club". 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. 
  31. ^ "Val Kilmer takes over Batman Forever". 15 July 1994. 
  32. ^ "Batman-Online - Interview with Batman Forever's Janet Scott Batchler". 
  33. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (13 January 1994). "Seagal on the pulpit may be too much for WB". 
  34. ^ Dvorsky, George. "These terrifying Dinosaurs Attack! trading cards from the 1980s traumatized an entire generation". 
  35. ^ Edward Gross (May 12, 2000). "SUPERMAN LIVES, Part 2: Writer Kevin Smith". Mania Movies. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  36. ^ a b Ken Hanke (1999). Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker. Renaissance Books. pp. 213–8. ISBN 1-58063-162-2. 
  37. ^ Paul A. Woods (2007). Tim Burton: A Child's Garden of Nightmares. Plexus Publishing. p. 150. ISBN 0-85965-401-X. 
  38. ^ "New Simon & Schuster lands DiMaggio bio, 'Goosebumps' headed to big screen". 9 January 1998. 
  39. ^ Tim Burton's unrealized projects at MobyGames - The Wizard of Oz at the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History - Telarium Corporation at Adventureland
  40. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (13 January 2011). "Paramount Reviving 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not' With Eric Roth". Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  41. ^ Fred Topel (August 25, 2008). "Director Henry Selick Interview – The Nightmare Before Christmas". About.com. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  42. ^ "News - Entertainment, Music, Movies, Celebrity". 
  43. ^ "What Really Happened At The End Of Planet Of The Apes? Tim Roth Finally Explains - CINEMABLEND". 29 December 2014. 
  44. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Willy Wonka's everlasting film plot". 
  45. ^ 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. 
  46. ^ Fleming, Mike (2010-08-19). "Tim Burton Reunites With 'Ed Wood' Scribes For 'Addams Family' And 'Big Eyes'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  47. ^ 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.” 
  48. ^ "Tim Burton and John August Reteam to Bring Us a Monsterpocalypse?". DreadCentral. 
  49. ^ "Tim Burton and John August Reteaming for 'Monsterpocalypse'? - Bloody Disgusting!". 10 June 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  50. ^ Peter Sciretta (2010-07-19) " Exclusive: Tim Burton Developing Monsterpocalypse, Full Details Revealed".
  51. ^ Josh Brolin Excited To Play 'Funky' Hunchback Of Notre Dame. MTV. May 11, 2015
  52. ^ How ugly will Josh Brolin's Hunchback of Notre Dame be? Entertainment Weekly. March 1 2011.
  53. ^ "Sam Raimi, Shawn Levy And Others Being Considered For Pirates 5 Directing Job - CINEMABLEND". 1 June 2011. 
  54. ^ "Tim Burton Won't Direct Disney's 'Maleficent' (Exclusive)". 
  55. ^ "Robert Downey Jr. to Play Both Pinocchio and Geppetto in Ben Stiller's 'Pinocchio'". 15 July 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  56. ^ McNary, Dave (May 8, 2012). "'Dark Shadows' sharp enough for franchise?". Variety. 
  57. ^ "Johnny Depp and Tim Burton Talk DARK SHADOWS, Pulling from the TV Series, Deleted Scenes, a Sequel and More". 8 May 2012.