Tim Burton Once Pitched A House Of Wax Musical Starring Michael Jackson

As prolific as Tim Burton is, the filmmaker has a sizeable list of unrealized projects that sound strange yet fascinating even for his off-kilter style. His abandoned works include an adaptation of the Richard Brautigan horror Western novel "The Hawkline Monster," the apocalyptic disaster film about giant dinosaurs aptly called "Dinosaurs Attack!," and, of course, the legendary and infamous Nicolas Cage-led, Kevin Smith-penned "Superman Lives." However, none of these match up to the levels of surreality as Burton's proposed musical adaptation of the 1953 3D mystery-horror classic "House of Wax," which would have starred none other than Michael Jackson.

This wasn't the first time someone tried re-visiting the story about a murderous museum sculptor, nor would it be the last. In fact, the 1953 version was a remake of a 1933 film called "Mystery of the Wax Museum," starring Lionel Atwill, who would later appear in "Son of Frankenstein," as well as Fay Wray, who also starred in "King Kong" that same year. Warner Bros. brought yet another version to screens in 2005, this time more influenced by the slasher films of the modern era and most known for casting and killing off Paris Hilton. These don't even count the low-budget 1979 film "Tourist Trap," produced by cult horror movie producer Charles Band, which bears a strong resemblance to the plot of "House of Wax." 

Despite all of these interpretations (and Vincent Price's signature blackly comedic performance), Burton's pitch for his own take on the film sounded especially campy and gonzo.

For the love of a wax glove

After receiving the Lumiere Award at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon, France, Burton revealed (via Deadline) that he had sincerely tried to make a "House of Wax" musical starring the King of Pop, but the studio he was in talks with ultimately rejected the concept. "They said 'no.' Can you believe that?" Burton incredulously (but humorously) stated. Burton said that Michael Jackson was the only one who supported his idea, which is unsurprising considering the pop star's long-documented appreciation for horror. In fact, Jackson has a history of film projects that he could have starred in but never came to fruition, including "Labyrinth" and "Spider-Man."

This detail came about in a larger discussion about the state of filmmaking in a post-streaming, post-pandemic world, in which Burton lamented that it's now more difficult to get the business-oriented studio heads to greenlight a project. However, the vast libraries of streaming platforms have proven that there's a niche audience for just about anything, and that production companies can occasionally take higher risks for straight-to-streaming films. While it's true that Michael Jackson has passed away, the original concept still remains. It should be noted that The Weeknd has shown that he, too, has a love of horror movies, so perhaps that means a musical "House of Wax" can still see the light of day.