Warner Brothers’ new release Dark Shadows hits theaters at the end of the week. Johnny Depp, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote, Cloe Moretz, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Thomas McDonell, Gulliver McGrath and Jonny Lee Miller all star. The film is of course directed by Tim Burton.
Earlier in the week I had the chance to sit down with the film’s screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith to talk about working with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to distill this soap opera from the 1970′s into something more attuned to today’s big screen experience. We also touched on future projects Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Beetlejuice 2. As for Unholy Night and Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, we only had so much time so I had to drop those from the conversation.
In theaters May 11, “The story focuses on Barnabas Collins (Depp), who was transformed into a vampire by a jilted lover (Eva Green’s witch Angelique) way back in the 1700s and buried. He’s just been dug up, and attempts to reintegrate with his descendants, led by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elizabeth and Jonny Lee Miller’s Roger – despite the fact that Angelique is still around and still not in a forgiving mood.”
Head inside for the interview. READ MORE
I met up with writer Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Pride, Prejudice And Zombies) today at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about Dark Shadows. While he’s made a name for himself with his novels and has several high-profile screenplay credits on the horizon, it’s his first major release as a screenwriter. We had a nice long chat about the film, the bulk of which will be hitting later this week. But I figured I’d go ahead and share his update on Beetlejuice 2 with you guys. It’s not too much different than updates he’s offered in the past, though things seem to be progressing – and he’s acknowledging that some other favorite characters may return.
I have to ask, what’s that status of Beetlejuice 2?
The status is everyone’s waiting for me to get off my ass. I’ve met with Michael Keaton about it, I’ve met with Tim [Burton] about it. Warner Brothers is obviously eager. But right now the ball’s in my court to sort of crack the story that will make it worth of doing this again. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it to you. I don’t want to have to look fans in the face and apologize for making a bad Beetlejuice movie, because it’s one of my favorite movies. And I don’t want to make anything just because I can. I don’t think Tim would participate [with those motives in mind] and I certainly know Michael wouldn’t. If we get something worthy…
Any chance of Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis or Winona Ryder’s characters returning?
It’s all possible. In terms of the story, however many years that are between the two films will be the amount of years that are between the two story lines. It’s not a reboot or a remake, it’s a straight sequel with Michael Keaton returning as Beetlejuice.
Check back later in the week for the rest of the interview. Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Chloe Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter. It opens this Friday, May 8th.
Seth Grahame-Smith is, to say the least, a busy guy. His revision of the birth of Jesus and the three wise men, “Unholy Night”, is published tomorrow. He also wrote Dark Shadows for Tim Burton and adapted his book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for Timur Bekmambetov. But that doesn’t mean we won’t write the screenplays for Unholy Night, Beetlejuice 2 and a new project called Night Of The Living in quick succession.
He told the Hollywood Reporter, “‘Night of the Living’ is an idea I have had around for years that I’m doing with Tim Burton. When we were shooting ‘Dark Shadows’ last year I worked up the nerve to tell Tim about it because I always thought it would make a good movie. When I saw what he had done with ‘Frankweenie and Corpse Bride’, it always struck me as a great idea for that form. I’m writing it at Warner’s Bros. for him (as a stop-motion monster movie). As soon I’m done with that draft, I’ll move into ‘Unholy Night’, probably in a matter of weeks. Once we have a script and we’ll get together with David Heyman and the studio, we’ll go looking for a director. The ‘Beetlejuice’ sequel will come after ‘Unholy Night’ in my schedule. The first opportunity to tackle that will probably be later this year.”
Smith is actually down the road a bit with Beetlejuice 2, he’s been discussing the project with both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton for a while now so it’s not necessarily a pipe dream. It could happen. While I’m not necessarily fond of the mashups he’s done with “Lincoln” or “Pride, Prejudice And Zombies”, he’s still an unknown quantity as a screenwriter to me. People seem to like working with him, maybe he’s better suited to the screenwriting trade than he is to gimmicky novels.
Last fall it was announced that Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg were attached to develop a new Beetlejuice. MTV caught up with original director Tim Burton who reveals that he’s actually considering returning to the so-to-be franchise that starred Michael Keaton as the title character.
“Yes,” Burton boldly stated when asked if he’d consider doing another Beetlejuice. “I love that character, and Michael [Keaton] is so great in it. I always think about how great and fun that character was, so I just said to ["Vampire Hunter" writer] Seth [Grahame-Smith], “If you have some idea about it, go for it, and then I’ll look at it freshly.” In the past, I tried some things, but that was way back when. He seemed really excited about it.” In speaking of running his ideas by Burton, he explained, “No. I told him to try some stuff, but he hasn’t come back to me yet. Michael was so great in it. I’m sure he’d strangely tap right back into it.”
The 1988 Tim Burton-directed hit starred Michael Keaton as a ghoul hired by a recently deceased couple to drive the new owners out of their house. Burton and Keaton made the movie while they were working on the studio’s first Batman film, which was released the following year. READ MORE
KatzSmith Productions, headed by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith (writer of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), has a few genre projects up their sleeves.
The most prominent, of course, is Beetlejuice II, which has been talked about ever since the first film was a big hit for Warner Bros. The duo wants to make sure everyone knows that this won’t end up becoming a remake under their watch, and Grahame-Smith said it won’t happen without Keaton.
“When Warner Bros. came to us about it, we said the only way we’d do it if we got Tim [Burton’s] blessing and involvement, and we got that, and the star of the movie has to be Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, and it’s a true continuation 26 years later. Not just throwing him in as a cameo going, ‘Hey, it’s me. I endorse this movie.’ We’re not there yet [with Keaton] because we don’t have a film to present to him.”
In addition to reviving the ghost with the most, they’ve got Alive in Necropolis – based on a supernatural crime novel by Doug Dorst about the real-life city of Colma,Calif., which has 1,600 living citizens, and 1.6 million bodies buried in its surrounding cemeteries – in the works, as well as Extra Curricular, a live-action TV series which is being described as “the supernatural Breakfast Club.” READ MORE