Exclusive: Tim Burton Developing Monsterpocalypse, Full Details Revealed

Last month, it was reported that John August was in talks with Dreamworks to pen a big screen adaptation of the Monsterpocalypse board game which has been described as "part strategy, part Kaiju Big Battel, and part Rampage!, all played out with miniatures on a tabletop." At the time, it was speculated that the involvement of Burton's regular collaborator might mean that Tim Burton was developing the project to direct. We now have a confirmation and more information on the project.

Over the weekend, I was able to get producer Roy Lee (The Departed, The Ring, How to Train Your Dragon) on the phone and was able to confirm the speculation and get a bunch of information on the developing project. You can read the cliffnotes below or skip to the full transcript which contains a lot more information on the project.

Cliff Notes:

  • John August is writing the screenplay right now, consulting with the game's creator Matt Wilson (who is also a co-producer)
  • Tim Burton is developing the project to direct
  • Being developed as a 3D movie
  • It could hit theaters by the end of 2012
  • Will not feature other properties like Voltron
  • The plot involves giant monsters who attack earth. After the humans fight back, the monsters retreat, but it is quickly discovered that they didn't leave, but instead burrowed underground and are sending some sort of signal into space. The humans prepare for a possible future attach and developed giant robots that will fight the monsters if and when they return.
  • Most of the movie is going to be during that battle between the giant robots and the giant monsters.
  • Tim Burton is developing the look for the monsters with Ken Ralston, four time Academy Award winner who has been involved with the visual effects on films such as Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, Back to the Future series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cocoon, Dragonslayer, Star Wars trilogy
  • The monsters and robots are each the size of a very tall building.
  • The robots are controlled by a crew inside of each one of these robots, and we'll be seeing the battles from the inside of the bridge and the outside
  • Human-controlled robots the size of tall buildings fighting giant alien monsters who are destroying cities on Earth... and in 3D? How cool is that for a popcorn tentpole movie? Really?

    Full Transcript:Peter: Hey Roy.Roy: Hey Peter. How are you?Peter: Good. So we've been hearing rumors that there is a film version of MONSTERPOCALYPSE with John August writing it and many have speculated that Tim Burton might direct? I wanted to see if you could confirm those rumors.Roy: I can confirm that Tim Burton is developing it to direct. He's working closely with John August on story. And this is the first time that Ken Ralston was brought in this early to do conceptual drawings and the visuals for the movie itself. I don't know if you know Ken, but he's won several Oscars for, I guess, maybe "Cocoon", "Roger Rabbit", "Back to the Future", "Forest Gump", all those, as well as working with Tim on "Alice in Wonderland".Peter: This is a board game, so what is the take on the film adaptation?Roy: The general take on the film that I can give you is that the giant monsters come to earth and start wreaking havoc. The humans, at this point, fight back. And they feel like they've destroyed them, but they quickly learn that the monsters that come had actually not died and just sort of burrowed underground and are sending some sort of signal into space. Apparently, it is probably going to be a distress signal. So the humans know that something is going to be coming, they just don't know what yet. And they know how big these monsters can be. Then it cuts to many years later when nothing has come back, but the humans have prepared for possible monsters coming back. And by this time, they have developed these giant robots that will fight the monsters when they come. That is what is going to take place. But most of the movie is going to be during that battle between the giant robots and the giant monsters.Peter: So that part where the monsters return, is that just like the first 30 minutes of the movie?Roy: Yes. The opening is just the basic present day, and then we go years into the future.Peter: Wow. The MONSTERPOCALYPSE universe also encompasses other properties, like Voltron. Will those properties also be a part of the movie?Roy: Not Voltron... The company that owns Voltron approached us, Matt Wilson, to be able to utilize the robots for the world of MONSTERPOCALYPSE. But we are not using anything from there to the movie, because a lot of the robots and monsters will be created by Tim himself and the cast.Peter: OK, cool. So John August is...it sounds like you have a script, or you have a treatment right now?Roy: He's writing the script right now.Peter: He's writing the script right now. If this happens, when does this look like this happens in the schedule? This would definitely be after Dark Shadows, I assume?Roy: That is something that we are not clear on, just because Tim has several opportunities that will be placed in front of him whenever these scripts are done, because both scripts of Dark Shadows and MONSTERPOCALYPSE are being written as we speak. So I can't say what would happen if "Dark Shadows" comes in great and ours doesn't, or the opposite. So it's really just up in the air.Peter: how big are these robots?Roy: These robots would be the size of a very tall building, where the crew that is inside of each one of these robots...we're not sure how many people are manning it. It's almost as if, like, the robots are spaceships, but they are actually shaped like robots and walk around the Earth, where you have a crew inside them, like, with a captain, controlling different parts of the robot to fight these monsters.Peter: Do we see that? Are we inside the bridge like Star Trek, or is it mostly outside seeing them fight the monsters?Roy: Nope. You'll be inside the robots and watching from outside.Peter: Oh, really cool. And how big are the monsters, may I ask?Roy: They will be just as big. Have you seen anything about the board game?Peter: Yes, I've seen many photos of the board game, but I've never actually played it myself.Roy: Well, yeah. Conceptually, the pieces are...you have like these buildings, and then the players are fighting against each other playing either the monsters or the robots. And those monsters and robots are the same size as the buildings.Peter: Well, very cool. And is Tim doing any of the designs himself?Roy: Oh, yes. Ken Ralston and Tim are working on the design. Tim has a very distinct style in the way he handles a lot of his creatures and the images that he uses in his movies that will be, I'm sure, reflected in our movie as well.Peter: Well, very cool. Thank you for your time Roy. I know you are probably a very busy guy. I really appreciate it.Roy: Sure. And a couple things. Tarik Heitmann, Gerald Moon, and Doug Davison are the exec producers.Peter: And Matt Wilson, the creator of the game is...Roy: Co-producer.Peter: How involved is he?Roy: He is very involved in the sense that the writer, John August, is consulting him and talking to him about just what choice he made in the game. He's been very helpful in just explaining some of the mythology behind some of the creatures. Because we are using some of his creatures, as well as his robots. I mean it's going to be sort of sub-everything.Peter: And I assume that this is probably being developed as a 3D film?Roy: That would be correct. I mean that's where Ken is saying there is no reason why we shouldn't, because seeing major cities destroyed and monsters fighting with robots would naturally lend itself to a 3D movie.Peter: It sounds like it's going to be lots of fun, so hopefully it gets made sooner rather than later.Roy: I'd say there is a good chance that we would be in theaters by the end of 2012.Peter: OK. Well, very cool Roy. Thank you very much. And again, I appreciate your time.Roy: You are welcome. Sure thing.