Sunday, May 13, 2012

Talking the Remake

Tim Burton discusses breathing new life into an old property:

On Corpse Bride, our puppets were so sophisticated that people thought they were [animated] in the computer. It sort of undermined the beauty of the stop-motion technique. So, with Frankenweenie, we have a smaller budget and decided that the puppets are going to have to be a bit cruder. But that’s okay, because that’s part of the charm of stop-motion. I wouldn’t go back to the original King Kong and smooth down the fur. ...

I remember when Tim was making the original FW back in the early eighties.

He was generally seen as a big talent by the younger artists inside Disney's feature animation department, but a frustrated talent. He did some very Burtonesque designs for The Black Cauldron. The Cauldron's producer raved about them ... and then didn't use them, as many of the Disney old guard through they were way further out than the studio should go.

Tom Wilhite, the head of production before Ron Miller was overthrown and Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, and Jeffrey Katzenberg rode into town, championed Tim's work, but there was a lot of bureaucratic opposition inside the animation department. Tim made Vincent, some low-budget films for the brand-new Disney Channel, and lastly Frankenweenie. When it was completed, Disney didn't know what to do with it and Mr. Burton moved on to bigger, more satisfying projects.

Tim has always been smart ... and talented. But I always thought the "weird kid on the block" persona that he liked to display was a bit of a pose. He had an office across from mine for a few months, and weird he was not. Focused and smart was more like it.

But Hollywood's about marketing first, last, and always. Tim was a good marketer.

(Rick Heinrichs, the production designer of "Frankenweenie" talks about the pic's art direction here.)


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