Tim Burton Skipping 3D For ‘Dark Shadows’

Tim Burton recently started production on Dark Shadows, his new big-screen version of the ’60s soap opera that is well-known for indulging a good many supernatural characters and storylines. We know the basic plot of the film and we know the cast — Johnny Depp leads the roster as Barnabas Collins, with Chloe Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Thomas McDonell, and Bella Heathcote — but that’s just the beginning.

With the art show ‘Tim Burton!’ hitting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this coming week, he sat down for an interview, part of which turned to the ‘etheral’ tone of Dark Shadows, and the decision not to shoot it in 3D. Read More »

‘Dark Shadows’ Storyline Revealed

Tim Burton started shooting Dark Shadows this week, and along with an announcement of that fact, Warner Bros. has released the first comprehensive account of the film’s story. The basic concept behind the film is to remake the ’60s soap opera that was famous for its supernatural aspects, and one central character in particular: the vampire Barnabas Collins.

The ensemble cast includes Johnny Depp as Barnabas, and also features Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller (a new announcement for the cast), Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz, and Gulliver McGrath. Read the full synopsis after the break. Read More »

After years of talk, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are finally making a film version of the ’60s supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, and Warner Bros. has just given the film a plum date: it will open on May 11 2012. So one year from now, you’ll be able to join the argument over whether the film is the latest step for one of the most significant director/actor teams of the past two decades, or only another predictable product of Tim Burton’s well-documented idiosyncrasies. I have no idea what to expect out of the film, but the cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earle Haley, which should be a lineup strong enough to convince even the Burton-averse to take a look.

After the break, info on releases for The Rock’s next movie, and a Will Ferrell/Zack Galifianakis pairing. Read More »

Tim Burton may have found his Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. The director is quickly assembling the cast for a big-screen version of the ’60s supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, with Johnny Depp leading the cast as Barnabas Collins. Now he’s got Michelle Pfeiffer — famous for many roles, but not least for playing Catwoman in Batman Returns — in talks to play Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the family around which the soap was based. Read More »

We’ll keep this one quick because, well, it’s another casting report about New Year’s Eve, the sorta-spinoff romcom from Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall. The film already has Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Sofia Vergara, Halle Berry, Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Abigail Breslin, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jon Bon Jovi, Seth Meyers, Til Schweiger and Sienna Miller set to appear.

Now The Wrap says that Josh Duhamel has signed on, but doesn’t specify his role. I know you’re on pins and needles. But wait! THR comes to the rescue, verifying that report and adding that he’ll be one of the leads, “a hopeless romantic who spends the day trying to get to New York in the hope of getting to a party in order to re-meet a mystery girl from the previous year.” Meanwhile Ice ‘Fuck tha Police’ Cube is in talks to play a NYPD cop who is working in some capacity with Hilary Swank’s character, the director of the Times Square celebration. And Ryan Seacrest has the best role of all: himself.

The multi-thread romcom New Year’s Eve (a sorta spin-off from last year’s Valentine’s Day) has quite the cast. So far Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Biel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry, Zac Efron, Lea Michele and more
are all set to get paid for doing a couple weeks of work on the film.

Now Jon Bon Jovi, SNL Weekend Updater Seth Meyers and Inglorious Basterd Til Schweiger are all signing on for a check, too. Read More »

Briefly: Add one more to the increasingly intriguing cast of Alex Kurtzman‘s directorial debut Welcome to People. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks lead the cast in a story where “a young man (Pine) is directed by his father’s will to deliver $150,000 to a sister (Banks) he didn’t know he had.” That’s actually more detail than we’d previously known, and it still isn’t a lot. Now actor/writer/director Mark Duplass will play a neighbor who is interested in Elizabeth Banks’ character. Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer are in the cast as well.

Alex Kurtzman has made a career out of big budget, high-concept stuff so far, but when I spoke to his co-writer Roberto Orci on the set of Cowboys & Aliens (which they wrote and produced) Mr. Orci said they were looking to do something a bit different when one or the other segued into directing. This picture was no doubt already in the works, but I’m glad to see the pair (who both wrote this script along with Jody Lambert) making good on their intent to develop their own cinematic vocabulary. [Variety]

Briefly: I’m really starting to look forward to Welcome to People, the film that will be both the directorial debut for Alex Kurtzman, and possibly a turning point in the screenwriting career of he and his partner Roberto Orci. (The two have previously written Star Trek, Transformers, Cowboys & Aliens, etc. They wrote this script with Jody Lambert.) The plot centers on a character played by Chris Pine, who “returns home after his estranged father’s sudden death, only to uncover a devastating family secret, which sends him on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.” Sounds like a more drama-oriented change from the high-concept stuff the guys have been known for so far.

The cast of the film includes Elizabeth Banks and Olivia Wilde. Now Michelle Pfeiffer has signed on to play the mother of Chris Pine’s character. It’s a big part, and it’s good to see the actress, making one of her rare appearances these days, in a bit that might give her a chance to really play. The film begins shooting next week. [Deadline]

Within the next six weeks, someone you like a lot is virtually guaranteed to be cast in New Year’s Eve, the ensemble romantic comedy that is a sorta-spin-off from Valentine’s Day. I apologize in advance. For me, it has already happened, as Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer are negotiating for roles in the film. So are Hilary Swank and Ashton Kutcher.

THR lays out the structure: the film “tells intertwining stories of a group of New Yorkers as they navigate their way through romance over the course of New Year’s Eve.” Robert De Niro would be a bitter, dying man, while Michelle Pfeiffer would be “a frustrated executive secretary who decides to tackle her unfulfilled resolutions.” Hilary Swank would be a producer of the big Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, while Ashton Kutcher would be cast well against type as a man who hates New Year’s Eve.

This quartet would join Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin, and there will be more to come before the film shoots in mid-December. Garry Marshall is directing.

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Hairspray PosterLast night I was lucky enough to be invited to a very special presentation of Adam Shankman’s Hairspray at Dolby Laboratories. I must admit, I’m not a fan of musicals, or at least I haven’t been in the past. Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge! was my first positive experience in the genre. And Dreamgirls became one of my favorite films of last year (although not in my top 10). I’m very critical of the genre, and I sometimes wonder it’s value in contemporary times. That said, New Line has definitely created something magical with the New Hairspray. Read on.

The screening room in the Dolby Labs is a wooden modernized art deco design, with a small stage, curtain, and stadium seating. While I sat in my seat waiting for the presentation I looked around wondering where the speakers were. I didn’t see a single speaker, ANYWHERE. And you would expect a place like Dolby would have a jacked up sound system. And you would be correct. I later discovered while exiting the screening room that the entire wall is a speaker. What seems to be wallpaper is actually that mesh speaker material. The sound was quite incredible.

Hairspray director Adam Shankman came out and introduced himself. He claimed that this film was “the best experience” he’ll ever have. He talked about how everyone in the cast signed on because they really wanted to do this movie. Adam said that Michelle Pfeiffer supposedly calls herself Dr. No, because she never says yes to movie offers anymore. He talked briefly about the original John Waters film, and how Waters told him “You have to do your own thing.”

“Which is a very sweet thing to say to the guy who made Cheaper By The Dozen 2,” joked Shankman. “Which I did completely as a favor.”

Shankman is an incredible speaker. He talks and you listen as the stories pour out of his mouth and fill the room.

The lights then went down and we saw a 20 plus minute preview of the film which Shankman called a “Franken Trailer.” It consisted of pieces of songs, pieces of scenes, montage segments that seem like they should be part of a theeatrical trailer, and more. We were warned that parts of the cut were not completely finished, although you wouldn’t have noticed at all from the footage.

The footage began with newcomer Nikki Blonsky, who plays the lead character – Tracy Turnblad in the film, waking up to get to school. She misses the bus and is forced to hitch a ride. The whole thing is done in this wonderfully music number which is perfectly cut. You can see the love and time that must have gone into the story-boarding and choreography of this sequence.

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The next segment followed Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton, played by Amanda Bynes, as they rushed home to catch the Corny Collins show on television. Tracy tries to convince her mother, played by John Travolta in a female fat suit, into letting her audition for the tv show. She of course says no, but her father, played by Christopher Walken says yes. If there is one trepidation I have about the footage I viewed, it would be the over the top performance of Travolta. His part seemed so out of place, and more like a gimmick than anything else. Walken is, well, Walken. You can never go wrong with him, even in the worst film.

harispray3.jpgWe then see Tracy at the tryout, where she blows away Corney Collins, played by James Marsden. There is so much going on in this film. It’s so colorful, and over the top. The dance numbers are what you would expect from an old Hollywood musical. For example, the next one they showed involved Tracy and her mother leaving a thrift store. I’m not exactly sure about the context but the pair start dancing and singing in the street where 30 or so random people join in for a big dance number.

We also got a glimpse of Queen Latifah (who plays Motormouth Maybelle) at a record store party. Tracy’s mom shows up an embarrasses her but is quickly appeased by the offer of food. The preview ended with a montage of slips from throughout the film, in trailer fashion.

When the footage ended, the whole screening room broke out in applause. I can’t stress to you how great some of this footage was. Shankman really went for it, with confidence, and without holding back.

The director again thanked the crowd and thanked New Line for green-lighting the film when other musicals weren’t doing so well. I can only assume he meant Rent.

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A reception was held in the lobby with food and wine. I was able to speak with the producer Neil Meron, who actually admitted that he wasn’t completely happy with the 20+ minute preview reel. He claims that the preview footage doesn’t do the film justice, and he wished that New Line would have let them show the whole thing. Usually such a statement could be dismissed as hype, but I got the feeling that Meron’s feelings were authentic. He seemed really pleased with the result.
harispray5.jpgI also discovered that the film’s lead, Nikki Blonsky, was a complete newcomer. She has done nothing before this. The casting director discovered Nikki on MySpace. So expect to hear a lot about that leading up to the movie’s release. If it weren’t for the recent Jennifer Hudson/Dreamgirls performance I’d probably be praising Nikki, who seems to be perfect for the role of Tracy.

I also learned that Marissa Jaret Winokur (from the musical cast), Rikki Lake (from the John Waters film), and newcomer Nikki Blonsky (from the Shankman film) had just recorded a version of “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” for the soundtrack release.

I asked Shankman if John Waters had seen any of the footage yet, and he told me that not only had Waters seen the movie, but he loved it. So take that for what it’s worth.

One thing is for sure, Hairspray is one to watch this Summer, let’s just hope if doesn’t get buried between all the Threequels being released. Hairspray hits theaters on July 20th 2007.