Movie Fact #59 - October 15th, 2020

 

While director Tim Burton ended up making an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1979 stage musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, in 2007, he'd wanted to do the film since he saw the original show in London in 1980 while was a CalArts student. Burton recalled his experience of seeing the show.

"I was still a student, I didn't know if I would be making movies or working in a restaurant, I had no idea what I would be doing. I just wandered into the theatre and it just blew me away because I'd never really seen anything that had the mixture of all those elements. I actually went three nights in a row because I loved it so much."

Burton was not actually a fan of the musical genre, but he was struck by how cinematic the production was, and repeatedly attended subsequent performances. He described it as a silent film with music, adding that he was "dazzled both by the music and its sense of the macabre." When Burton's career took off in the late 1980's, Burton approached Sondheim to pitch the idea of making a cinematic adaptation, but nothing came of it at the time. In Sondheim's words, "[Burton] went off and did other things." However, when Sam Mendes left the adaptation he planned to do so he could direct 2005's Jarhead, Burton then jumped at the chance when his current project, a film based on the show Ripley's Believe It or Not!, fell apart due to its excessive budget. Stay tuned!

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