Johnny Depp’s word is his bond. In June 2009, the three-time Oscar nominee promised us that “Dark Shadows” — the Tim Burton-directed, Depp-starring adaptation of the 1960s-era soap opera — was going to shift into production, despite years of delay.
Depp wouldn’t steer us wrong. “Dark Shadows” now has an official start date courtesy of Warner Bros., a development first reported by Deadline Hollywood. Burton and Depp will begin production in April 2011.
That’s almost four years since the project was first announced. Depp has long spoken of his childhood obsession with the ABC soap and said he always fostered the hope of becoming Barnabas Collins, the vampire at the center of the series. Running from 1966 to 1971, “Dark Shadows” spun supernatural tales of ghosts, zombies, vamps and time travel over its 1,225 episodes. In December 2008, Richard D. Zanuck, a producer on the film, said that shooting would begin in London in the summer of ’09, but that seemed ambitious given Depp’s schedule and the task of adapting the series.
“It was a soap opera — it was a daily show,” Sam Sarkar, Depp’s producing partner, told MTV News in March ’09. “That’s something people forget. It’s one thing to adapt a weekly television series into a movie — it’s another thing to take a soap opera that’s been serialized daily and try to boil it down to two hours.”
Still, Sarkar assured us the project was still on track, and when we asked him about rumors that Burton would direct, he said coyly, “I can neither confirm nor deny that. But I know it’s out there in the ether.”
Burton himself offered MTV News the confirmation a few months later, when he said that “Dark Shadows” would shoot in 2010.
“One of the biggest challenges on [’Dark Shadows’] is to just capture that weird tone of the show,” he said.
By the end of 2009, though, that rumored production start had shifted back to late 2010. This was hardly encouraging, and months passed without any news. Then this past July, Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” came aboard to pen the script. This, of course, was very encouraging.
“Part of the energy of it was the tone and weirdness of it,” Burton told us. “That’s our challenge, to try to capture that vibe. … It’s always a fine line. That remains to be seen. That’s a question and a challenge we talk about a lot. I haven’t arrived at the answer. That’s definitely a main issue, the tone and the vibe of it because as we all know melodrama can cross over. It’s one of the more interesting things about it.”
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