Tim Burton, April 2009
|Born||Timothy Walter Burton
August 25, 1958
Burbank, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, writer, artist|
|Spouse(s)||Lena Gieseke (1989–1991)
|Domestic partner(s)||Lisa Marie (1993–2001)
Helena Bonham Carter (2001–present)
Timothy Walter "Tim" Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American film director who specializes in dark and quirky-themed films such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, but has also produced cinema blockbusters, including Batman, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He frequently works with close friend Johnny Depp, musician Danny Elfman and partner Helena Bonham Carter. Burton's film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. His latest film, Alice in Wonderland, was released on March 5, 2010. Tim Burton is to be the President of the Jury for the 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival, scheduled to be held from May 12 to May 23, 2010 in Cannes, France.
Burton was born in Burbank, California, the son of Jean, who ran a gift shop, and Will Burton, a former baseball player who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. Burbank was typical of 1950s American suburbia; shy, artistic Burton was not quite in step with the happy, popular people surrounding him. He was not particularly good in school. Instead, he found his pleasure in painting, drawing, and watching movies. He loved monster movies like Godzilla, the horror films from Productions, the work of Ray Harryhausen. One of his heroes was actor Vincent Price. Burton would make short films in his back yard using crude stop-motion animation techniques, or shoot them on 8 mm film without sound. After graduating from Burbank High School, he attended the California Institute of the Arts.
In 1982, Burton made his first short, Vincent, a six minute black and white stop motion film based around a poem written by the film maker, and depicting a young boy who fantasizes that he is his (and Burton's) hero Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration. The film was produced by Rick Heinrichs, whom Burton had befriended while working in the concept art department at Disney Studios. The film was shown at the Chicago Film Festival and released, alongside the teen drama Tex, for two weeks in one Los Angeles cinema. This was followed by Burton's first live-action production Hansel and Gretel, a Japanese themed adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale for The Disney Channel, which climaxes in a kung-fu fight between Hansel and Gretel and the witch. Having aired once at 10:30pm 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. Next was the live-action short Frankenweenie, starring Barret Oliver, Daniel Stern and Shelley Duvall (an early supporter of Burton's work). (Both "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie" are on the 2-disc deluxe edition of the DVD "The Nightmare Before Christmas")
Although Burton's work had yet to see wide release, he began to attract the attention of the film industry. Producer Griffin Dunne approached Burton to direct After Hours (1985), a comedy about a bored word processor who survives a crazy night in SoHo, which had been passed over by Martin Scorsese. However, when financing for The Last Temptation of Christ fell through, Burton bowed out of the project out of respect for Scorsese.
Not long after actor Paul Reubens saw Frankenweenie, he chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee Herman gained mainstream popularity with a successful stage show at the Roxy which was later turned into an HBO special. 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 four of Burton's films (Cabin Boy, Ed Wood, James and the Giant Peach and Sweeney Todd).
After directing episodes for the revitalized TV 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. Starring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, and featuring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, the film grossed $80 million on a relatively low budget and won a Best Makeup Design Oscar. It would be converted into a cartoon of the same name, with Burton playing a role as executive producer, that would run for four seasons on ABC and later Fox.
Burton's ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives and he received his first big budget film Batman (1989). The production was plagued with problems. 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, despite Keaton's average physique, inexperience with action films, and reputation as a comic actor. Although Burton won in the end, the furor over the casting provoked enormous fan animosity, to the extent that Warner Brothers' share price slumped. Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a bulked-up he-man as Batman, insisting that the Caped Crusader should be an ordinary (albeit fabulously wealthy) man who dressed up in an elaborate bat costume to frighten criminals. Burton cast Jack Nicholson as the Joker (Tim Curry being his second choice) 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, it was backed by the biggest marketing and merchandising campaign in film history at the time, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing well over $250 million in the U.S. alone and $400 million worldwide (numbers not adjusted for inflation) and earning critical acclaim for the performances of both Keaton and Nicholson as well as the film's production aspects, which won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the film helped establish Burton as a major director and it also proved to be a huge influence on future superhero films, which eschewed the bright, all-American heroism of Richard Donner's Superman for a grimmer, more realistic look and characters with more psychological depth. It also became a major inspiration for the successful 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series.
Burton claimed that The Killing Joke was a major influence on his film adaptation of Batman:
"I was never a giant comic book fan, but I've always loved the image of Batman and The Joker. The reason I've never been a comic book fan—and I think it started when I was a child—is because I could never tell which box I was supposed to read. I don't know if it was dyslexia or whatever, but that's why I loved The Killing Joke, because for the first time I could tell which one to read. It's my favorite. It's the first comic I've ever loved. And the success of those graphic novels made our ideas more acceptable."
In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. Her friend Johnny Depp, a teen idol at the end of the 1980s due primarily to his work on the hit TV series 21 Jump Street, 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 was shot in Lutz, Florida), the film is largely seen as Burton's autobiography of his own childhood in the suburb of 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 Burton's best movie by many critics. Following this collaboration with Burton, Depp starred in Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland.
In 2004, Matthew Bourne came to Burton with the idea to turn the story of Edward into a ballet. In 2005, the ballet first aired. It has now toured the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.
The day Warner Brothers had declined to make the more personal Scissorhands even after the success of Batman, Burton finally 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 (similar to Superman III's Ross Webster). 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. One critic remarked, "too many villains spoiled the Batman", highlighting Burton's decision to focus the storyline more on the villains instead of Batman. The film also polarized the fanbase, with some loving the darkness and quirkiness, while others felt it was not true to the core aspects of the source material. 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. 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), originally meant to be a children's book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick and written by Michael McDowell and Caroline Thompson, 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. Burton collaborated with Selick again for James and the Giant Peach (1996), which Burton co-produced. The movie helped to generate a renewed interest in stop-motion animation.
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, starring comedian Chris Elliott and directed/written by Adam Resnick. Burton was originally supposed to direct the film after seeing Elliott perform on Get A Life, but handed the directing responsibility to Resnick once he was offered Ed Wood. The film was almost entirely panned by critics, even earning Chris Elliott a 1995 Razzie Award for "Worst New Star". The film also has a 45% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
His next film, Ed Wood (1994), was of a much smaller scale, depicting the life of Edward D. Wood, Jr., 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 sci-fi and horror films of Burton's childhood, and handles its comical protagonist and his motley band of collaborators with surprising fondness and sensitivity. Due 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 Béla Lugosi.
In 1996, Burton and Selick reunited for the musical fantasy James and the Giant Peach, based on the book by Roald Dahl. The film starred Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis, Simon Callow and Jane Leeves among others, with Burton producing and Selick directing. The film was mostly praised by critics, and was nominated for the Academy Award Best Music, Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (by Randy Newman).
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. Coincidence made it an inadvertent spoof of the blockbuster, Independence Day, made around the same time and released five months earlier. Although the film boasted an all-star cast, including Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Lukas Haas, Glenn Close, Martin Short and Rod Steiger, the film received mixed reviews by American critics and was mostly ignored by American audiences. It was more successful abroad.
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 movies of the English company Hammer Films. Christopher Lee, one of Hammer's stars, was given a cameo role. A host of Burton regulars appeared in supporting roles (Michael Gough, Jeffrey Jones and Christopher Walken, among others) and Christina Ricci was cast as Katrina van Tassel. 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 BAFTAs for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. A box office success, Sleepy Hollow was also a turning point for Burton. Along with change in his personal life (separation from actress Lisa Marie), Burton 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 widely considered inferior to the first adaptation of the novel. One criticism was that the movie went for a more watered down "popcorn" feel than the dark, cerebral and nihilistic tone of the 1968 film. The film was a significant departure from Burton's usual style, and there was much subsequent debate about whether the film was really Burton's, or if he was just a "hired gun" who did what he was asked. Burton reportedly clashed with the studio during the whole making of the film, once going as far as abruptly leaving the set for the day. There were also many reports about last minute changes in the movie. Despite the commercial success of the movie and an ending that clearly suggested the possibility of a sequel, there are no intentions from the studio or Burton to make another Apes movie. During the making of the film, Burton met actress Helena Bonham Carter, who would later become his partner.
In 2003, Burton directed Big Fish, based loosely on the novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace. The film is about a father telling the story of his life to his son using exaggeration and color. Starring Ewan McGregor as young Edward Bloom and Albert Finney as an older Edward Bloom, the film also stars Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Alison Lohman and Marion Cotillard. Big Fish received four Golden Globe nominations as well as an Academy Award nomination for the musical score by Danny Elfman. Big Fish was also the second collaboration with Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, who played the characters of Jenny and the Witch.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is an adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl. Starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket and Helena Bonham Carter as Charlie's mum, 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 Christopher Lee). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was later nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The film made over $207 million domestically. The film had critical praise.
Corpse Bride (2005) was Burton's first full-length stop-motion film as a director, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp as Victor and Helena Bonham Carter (for whom the project was specifically created) as Emily in the lead roles. In this movie, Burton was able to again use his familiar styles and trademarks, such as the complex interaction between light and darkness, and of being caught between two irreconcilable worlds. Corpse Bride received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.
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 and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Art Direction. Helena Bonham Carter won an Evening Standard British Film Award for her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett, as well as a Golden Globe nomination. The film is a devastating blend of explicit gore and Broadway tunes. Johnny Depp was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for the role of Sweeney Todd. Depp won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy, as well as the award for Best Villain as Todd in the 2008 MTV Awards.
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. The film won numerous awards and was nominated for an Academy Award. After seeing the short film, Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, director of Wanted, showed interest in producing a feature-length adaptation of the film. Also directed by Acker, the film was written by Pamela Pettler (co-writer of Corpse Bride) and starred Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Christopher Plummer, among others. This was Burton's first animated movie aside from his stop-motion films.
In Burton's version, the story is set 13 years after the original Lewis Carroll tale. Mia Wasikowska, the 19-year-old featured in the HBO series In Treatment and Defiance, was cast as Alice. The original start date was May 2008. Torpoint and Plymouth were the locations used for filming from September 1—October 14, and the film remains set in the Victorian era. During this time, filming took place in Antony House in Torpoint. 250 local extras were chosen in early August. Other production work took place in London. The film was originally to be released in 2009, but was pushed to March 5, 2010. Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter, Matt Lucas, star of Little Britain, is both Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Helena Bonham Carter portrays Red Queen, Stephen Fry is the Cheshire Cat, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar and Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts.
Tim Burton appeared at the 2009 Comic-Con in San Diego, California, to promote both 9 and Alice in Wonderland. When asked about the filmmaking process by an attendee, he mentioned his "imaginary friend" who helps him out, prompting Johnny Depp to walk on stage to the applause of the audience.
From November 22, 2009 to April 26, 2010, Burton has a retrospective at the MoMA in New York with over 700 "drawings, paintings, photographs, storyboards, moving-image works, puppets, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera," including many from the filmmaker's personal collection. The show also includes amateur and student films, music videos, commercials, and digital slide shows, as well as a complete set of features and shorts.
From MoMA, the "Tim Burton" exhibition will travel directly to ACMI in Melbourne. Running from June 24 to October 10, 2010, the ACMI exhibition will incorporate additional material from Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which was released in March.
Burton plans to remake his 1984 short film Frankenweenie as a feature length stop motion film, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. He is also set to direct a film adaptation based on the television series Dark Shadows. Johnny Depp will portray Barnabas Collins as well as co-produce the film, and John August is currently writing the script. However, Dark Shadows will be pushed back due to Depp and Burton's commitments to other projects. During Comic-Con 2009, Burton confirmed that Dark Shadows will be his next film.
On January 19, 2010, it was announced that after Dark Shadows that Burton's next project would be a 'Wicked'-style adaption featuring the origin story and the past of the Sleeping Beauty character and antagonist Maleficent, though it has yet to be confirmed. In an interview with Fandango published February 23, 2010, however, he denied he was directing any upcoming Sleeping Beauty movie. He will lead the jury of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. He has also stated that there is a chance he will co-produce [with Timur Bekmambetov, who he also co-produced 9 with] the movie " Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" which is based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, also author of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". It has also been reported that Burton would be directing a 3-D Stop-motion animation adaptation of 'The Addams Family'
Burton was married to a German-born artist for two years, whom he left to live with model and actress Lisa Marie; she acted in the films he made during their relationship from 1992 to 2001, most notably in Ed Wood and Mars Attacks! Burton then developed a romantic liaison with Helena Bonham Carter, whom he met while filming Planet of the Apes. Marie responded in 2005 by holding an auction of personal belongings that Burton had left behind, much to his dismay. Burton and Bonham Carter have a son, Billy Ray Burton, born October 4, 2003, and a daughter, Nell Burton, born December 15, 2007. Burton and Bonham Carter divide their time together in Los Angeles and London.
Close friend Johnny Depp is a godfather of Burton's son. In Burton on Burton, Depp wrote the introduction, stating, "What more can I say about him? He is a brother, a friend, my godson's father. He is a unique and brave soul, someone that I would go to the ends of the earth for, and I know, full and well, he would do the same for me."
Danny Elfman has scored all of Burton's films, except for "Cabin Boy", "James and the Giant Peach", Ed Wood (scored by Howard Shore), which was filmed during a period of personal conflict between the two, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which was scored by the original play's creator, Stephen Sondheim. Elfman also starred in Nightmare Before Christmas as Jack Skellington when singing, the singing skeletons in Corpse Bride, and the voice of the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Denise Di Novi once served as head of Tim Burton Productions, and co-produced six films with him (most notably Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas).
Colleen Atwood served as costume designer for nine of Burton's projects, her latest being Alice in Wonderland.
John August has written screenplays for three of Burton's films: Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride (co-written by Pamela Pettler and Caroline Thompson). He is currently in the process of writing the screenplays for Burton's upcoming films Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie.
Caroline Thompson has also written screenplays for three of Burton's films: Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride.
Pamela Pettler has written screenplays for two of Burton's projects: Corpse Bride and 9.
Bo Welch served as production designer for Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Batman Returns.
Philippe Rousselot has worked as director of photography for Planet of the Apes, Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Chris Lebenzon has served as Burton's editor for every one of his films since Batman Returns, even earning the role of executive producer on Alice in Wonderland.
Susie Figgis served as casting director for Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland.
|Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)||Beetlejuice (1988)||Batman (1989)||Edward Scissorhands (1990)||Batman Returns (1992)||The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)||Ed Wood (1994)||Mars Attacks! (1996)||Sleepy Hollow (1999)||Planet of the Apes (2001)||Big Fish (2003)||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)||Corpse Bride (2005)||Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)||Alice in Wonderland (2010)||Dark Shadows
|Helena Bonham Carter|
|Sarah Jessica Parker|
|Year||Film||Oscar nominations||Oscar wins||Notes|
|1985||Pee-wee's Big Adventure|
|2001||Planet of the Apes|
|2005||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||1|
|2007||Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street||3||1||Golden Globe Award for Best Director|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland|
|2012||The Addams Family|
|Awards and achievements|
|National Board of Review|
for The Departed
for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
for The Curious case of Benjamin Button
Leslie H. Martinson
|Batman film director
Tim Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American artist and film maker. He got his start as an animator for Walt Disney, but soon moved on making his own kinds of films and projects. He has an individual style; the films that he makes are creative and often based on events that would not happen in real life. For example the main character in "Edward Scissorhands" is a young man who has scissors instead of hands. HIs films attract an audience usually that fits his unique tastes. His films include: