Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dark Shadows

So I just caught a fairly lengthy trailer for the upcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie. Those who peruse my filmography may know that I wrote and produced a Dark Shadows pilot for Warner Brothers television back in 2004, working with E.R./Southland producer John Wells and series creator Dan Curtis. The pilot had an amazing cast, including Jessica Chastain, Martin Donovan, Blair Brown, Jenna Dewan and many others, but for a variety of unfortunate reasons WB decided not to go ahead with the series.

Even then Dan Curtis, who was in his 70's at the time (and has since passed away) was talking about Johnny Depp's interest in playing Barnabas Collins. Working with Dan on the pilot was quite an experience, one that would require more time to explain than I'm currently willing to invest, but suffice to say that he was a man of... great passion. And I wonder what he would have thought of Burton's clearly comic take on the material. Curtis was very possessive of the franchise (justifiably) with many definitive ideas on how a series should proceed. And I suspect none of those ideas would have involved disco music, a mirror ball gag, 70's music, and comedic moments like Baranbas tooth-brushing his fangs.

That said, I think the new movie looks pretty hilarious, a return to the Burton Beetlejuice era, so I'll be there. But I don't want to be around if there really is an afterlife and Dan C.'s there catching a matinee showing. I'm not sure the universe could take the sundering intensity of his reaction... (Or maybe he'd love it! What do I know?)


Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I too was quite surprised by the trailer.

You said Dan Curtis was already talking about Johnny Depp's interest in playing Barnabas in 2004. What was Dan's take on that? Was he in favor of it?

Mark Verheiden said...

Dan's comments were mostly about how Depp was interested and that would help get a feature off the ground. I don't know if there was a take (comedic or otherwise) at that time, probably not since we were trying to do the show.

Obviously there are still umpteen episodes of the original show and a season's worth of the 1990 show readily available, so fans can revisit those if they prefer a more somber take...