Tim Burton adores coming to Comic-Con. In fact, he recalls when it was in its infancy. “I remember coming to this in the late 1970s when it was at the Holiday Inn,” Burton said at the annual celebration of all things pop culture. “It’s amazing what it’s turned into. There’s something very magical about this place.”
What it has grown into is a chance for Hollywood to meet the press and talk about upcoming films. Burton is here talking about a passion project like no other, Frankenweenie.
“It’s always meant something to me. To be honest with you, stop motion, black and white with 3D advancement, it seemed like the right time for the project. Even though it’s something I did a long time ago, it feels new and special,” Burton said.
The filmmaker made the short decades ago. In terms of turning one of his first films into a full-length feature, one thing remained congruent. “The heart of the story is the same,” Burton said.
The people and creatures from the initial effort have remained ingrained in his mind and kept making the feature from feeling somehow disjointed from his initial intent.
“It’s just having some of these other characters that were rattling around in my head. It didn’t make it seem like it was a different thing. It doesn’t feel like it was a short that was drawn into a longer thing. We can go deeper into the other kids and things, it just felt theatrical,” Burton said.
“These were characters that I just sort of have. I just never know what they’ll fit into. There were always some characters that I was playing around with. This goes back to school and I remembered some of the kids I went to school with and the teachers. Growing up with those Universal horror films, like House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein -- a lot of it had to do with things I wanted to work with that I love.”
Although animation technology has shot to the moon and back in terms of advances, Burton adores the stop motion animation that he used on the short long ago, utilized on Nightmare Before Christmas, and is once again revisiting the medium as can so beautifully be seen in the Frankenweenie trailer. “That’s what we love about it. Technology may have improved, but it’s still the same. It goes back to the beginning of cinema. It’s a technique that is still an animator moving a puppet at 24 frames per second,” he said.
“As much as technology will do anything, there is something about the simplicity, excitement of that, seeing something come to life. It’s magical.”
One thing that is often seen throughout Burton’s family film work is the inescapable attachment at least one of his characters has to their dog. As seen on the Frankenweenie poster, with its title character front and center, his latest is no different.
“When you’re young, it’s the first pure relationship that you have. I was lucky enough to have a pet -- it is something that goes right to your heart. It seemed like a natural connection,” Burton said.
Before we let him go, given the arrival of The Dark Knight Rises soon, Burton is asked about his Batman and details how much of a risk it seemed at the time.
“I remember when I was doing Batman, how worried they were that it was too dark. Now, it looks like a light-hearted romp. Batman on ice, you know?” he said and laughed.
Because of films such as Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and dozens more, Burton is a filmmaker who it is easy to see the love thrown towards him in Hall H at Comic-Con. This year would be no different as moments after he left us, another standing "O" would greet him. “It’s amazing. Wish my family would treat me that way,” Burton said and laughed.
“When I come through the door when I get home, nobody says anything."