Tim Burton

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Tim Burton
Tim Burton (7587109150).jpg
Burton in 2012
Timothy Walter Burton

(1958-08-25) August 25, 1958 (age 65)
Alma mater California Institute of the Arts
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
  • animator
  • artist
Years active1971–present
Notable work Full list
Lena Gieseke
(m. 1987;div. 1991)
Partner(s) Lisa Marie (1993–2001)
Helena Bonham Carter (2001–2014)
Website timburton.com
Tim Burton signature.svg

Timothy Walter Burton [lower-alpha 1] (born August 25, 1958) is an American filmmaker, animator, and artist. Known for pioneering goth culture in the American film industry, Burton is revered for his gothic horror and fantasy films. These include Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016), as well as the television series Wednesday (2022). Burton also directed the superhero films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), the sci-fi film Planet of the Apes (2001), the fantasy-drama Big Fish (2003), the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and the fantasy films Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016).


Burton has often worked with actors Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Johnny Depp, Lisa Marie (his former girlfriend), Helena Bonham Carter (his former domestic partner) and composer Danny Elfman, who scored all but three of Burton's films. Burton also wrote and illustrated the poetry book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories , published in 1997 by British publishing house Faber and Faber, and a compilation of his drawings, sketches, and other artwork, entitled The Art of Tim Burton, was released in 2009. A follow-up to that book, entitled The Napkin Art of Tim Burton: Things You Think About in a Bar, containing sketches made by Burton on napkins at bars and restaurants he visited, was released in 2015. His accolades include nominations for two Academy Awards and three BAFTA Awards, and wins for an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

Early life

Burton was born on August 25, 1958, in Burbank, California, the son of Jean Burton (née Erickson, 1933–2002), later the owner of a cat-themed gift shop, and William "Bill" Burton (1930–2000), a former minor league baseball player who was working for the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department. [4] [5] As a preteen,[ citation needed ] Burton would[ citation needed ] make short films in his backyard at 2101 North Evergreen Street using crude stop motion animation techniques or shooting on 8 mm film without sound (one of his oldest known juvenile films is The Island of Doctor Agor , which he made when he was 13 years old). Burton attended Burbank High School but was not a particularly good student. He played on the water polo team at Burbank High. Burton was an introspective person and found pleasure in artwork, painting, drawing, and watching movies. His future work would be heavily influenced by the works of such childhood heroes as Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. [6] After graduating from Burbank High School, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Santa Clarita, to study character animation. [7] As a student at CalArts, Burton made the shorts Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus. [8]



Stalk of the Celery Monster attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions, which offered Burton an animator's apprenticeship at its animation division. [7] He worked as an animator, storyboard artist, graphic designer, art director, and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound (1981), Tron (1982), and The Black Cauldron (1985). His concept art never made it into the finished films.

While at Disney in 1982, Burton made his first short, Vincent , a six-minute black-and-white stop motion film based on a poem written by Burton, which depicts a young boy who fantasizes that he is his hero Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration. The film was produced by Rick Heinrichs, whom Burton had befriended while working in the concept art department at Disney. The film was shown at the Chicago Film Festival and released, alongside the teen drama Tex , for two weeks in one Los Angeles cinema. This was followed by Burton's first live-action production, Hansel and Gretel , a Japanese-themed adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale for the Disney Channel, which climaxes in a kung fu fight between Hansel and Gretel and the witch. Having aired once in 1983 at 10:30 pm on Halloween and promptly shelved, prints of the film are extremely difficult to locate, fueling rumors that the project did not exist. The short would finally go on public display in 2009 at the Museum of Modern Art, and again in 2011 as part of the Tim Burton art exhibit at LACMA. [9] [10] It was again shown at the Seoul Museum of Art in 2012. [11]

Burton's next live-action short film, Frankenweenie , was released in 1984. It tells the story of a young boy who tries to revive his dog after it is run over by a car. Filmed in black-and-white, it stars Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall (with whom he would work again in 1986, directing an episode of her television series Faerie Tale Theatre ), and Daniel Stern. After Frankenweenie was completed, Disney fired Burton, under the pretext of him spending the company's resources on a film that would be too dark and scary for children to see. [12]

Actor Paul Reubens saw Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-wee Herman, stating on the audio commentary of 2000 DVD release of Pee-wee's Big Adventure that as soon as the short began, he was sold on Burton's style. Pee-wee Herman gained mainstream popularity with a successful stage show at The Groundlings and the Roxy which was later turned into an HBO special. The film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure , was made on a budget of $8 million and grossed more than $40 million at the North American box office. Burton, a fan of the eccentric musical group Oingo Boingo, asked songwriter Danny Elfman to provide the music for the film. Since then, Elfman has scored every film that Tim Burton has directed, except for Ed Wood , [13] Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street , and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children .

After directing episodes for the revitalized version of '50s/'60s anthology horror series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre , Burton directed his next big project: Beetlejuice (1988), a supernatural comedy horror about a young couple forced to cope with life after death and the family of pretentious yuppies who invade their treasured New England home. Their teenage daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder), has an obsession with death which allows her to see the deceased couple. Starring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, and featuring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, the film grossed $80 million on a relatively low budget and won an Academy Award for Best Makeup. It would be converted into a cartoon of the same name, with Burton playing a role as executive producer, that ran on ABC and later Fox.

Burton's ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives, and he received his first big-budget film, Batman . The production was plagued with problems. Burton repeatedly clashed with the film's producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, but the most notable debacle involved casting. For the title role, Burton chose to cast Michael Keaton as Batman following their previous collaboration in Beetlejuice, despite Keaton's average physique, inexperience with action films, and reputation as a comic actor. Although Burton won in the end, the furor over the casting provoked enormous fan animosity, to the extent that Warner Brothers' share price slumped.[ citation needed ] Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a "bulked-up" ultra-masculine man as Batman, insisting that Batman should be an ordinary man who dressed up in an elaborate bat costume to frighten criminals. Burton cast Jack Nicholson as The Joker (Tim Curry being his second choice) in a move that helped assuage fans' fears, as well as attracting older audiences not as interested in a superhero film. When the film opened in June 1989, it was backed by the biggest marketing and merchandising campaign in film history at the time, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing over $250 million in the U.S. and $400 million worldwide (numbers not adjusted for inflation) and earning critical acclaim for the performances of both Keaton and Nicholson, as well as the film's production aspects, which won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the film helped establish Burton as a profitable director, and it proved to be a huge influence on future superhero films, which eschewed the bright, all-American heroism of Richard Donner's Superman for a grimmer, more realistic look and characters with more psychological depth. It also became a major inspiration for the successful 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series , as the darkness of Burton's film and its sequel allowed for a darker Batman on television.

Burton claimed that the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke was a major influence on his film adaptation of Batman:

I was never a giant comic book fan, but I've always loved the image of Batman and the Joker. The reason I've never been a comic book fan – and I think it started when I was a child – is because I could never tell which box I was supposed to read. I don't know if it was dyslexia or whatever, but that's why I loved The Killing Joke, because, for the first time, I could tell which one to read. It's my favorite. It's the first comic I've ever loved. And the success of those graphic novels made our ideas more acceptable. [14] :71


In 1990, Burton created a unique drawing which gave screenwriter Caroline Thompson inspiration to write the script for Edward Scissorhands which Burton directed, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. His friend Johnny Depp, a teen idol at the end of the 1980s due primarily to his work on the hit TV series 21 Jump Street , was cast in the title role of Edward, who was the creation of an eccentric and old-fashioned inventor (played by Vincent Price in one of his last screen appearances). Edward looked human, but was left with scissors in the place of hands due to the untimely death of his creator. Set in suburbia (and shot in Land o' Lakes, Florida), the film is largely seen as Burton's autobiography of his childhood in Burbank. Burton's idea [15] for the character of Edward Scissorhands came from a drawing he created in high school. Depp wrote a similar comment in the foreword to Mark Salisbury's book, Burton on Burton, regarding his first meeting with Burton over the casting of the film. Edward Scissorhands is considered one of Burton's best movies by some critics. [16] Burton has stated that this is his most personal and meaningful film because it is a representation of him not being able to communicate effectively with others as a teenager.

After the success of Batman, Burton agreed to direct the sequel for Warner Bros. on the condition that he would be granted total control. The result was Batman Returns , which featured Michael Keaton returning as Batman, and a new triad of villains: Danny DeVito (as the Penguin), Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman) and Christopher Walken (as Max Shreck, an evil corporate tycoon and original character created for the film). Darker and considerably more personal than its predecessor, concerns were raised that the film was too scary for children. Audiences were more uncomfortable at the film's overt sexuality, personified by the sleek, fetish-inspired styling of Catwoman's costume. Burton made many changes to the Penguin which would subsequently be applied to the character in both comics and television. While in the comics, he was an ordinary man, Burton created a freak of nature resembling a penguin with webbed, flipper-like fingers, a hooked, beak-like nose, and a penguin-like body (resulting in a rotund, man). Released in 1992, Batman Returns grossed $282.8 million worldwide, making it a financial success, though not to the extent of its predecessor.

Due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns, Burton produced, but did not direct, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) for Disney, originally meant to be a children's book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick and written by Caroline Thompson, based on Burton's original story, world, and characters. The film received positive reviews for the stop motion animation, musical score, and original storyline. It was a modest box office success, grossing $50 million. Because of the nature of the film, it was not produced under Disney's name, but rather Disney-owned Touchstone Pictures. Disney wanted the protagonist to have eyes, [17] but the final iteration did not. Over 100 people worked on this motion picture just to create the characters, and it took three years of work to produce the film. [17] Burton collaborated with Selick again for James and the Giant Peach (1996), which Burton co-produced.

In 1994, Burton and frequent co-producer Denise Di Novi produced the 1994 fantasy-comedy Cabin Boy , starring comedian Chris Elliott and directed/written by Adam Resnick. Burton was originally supposed to direct the film after seeing Elliott perform on Get a Life , but he handed the directing responsibility to Resnick once he was offered Ed Wood . Burton's next film, Ed Wood (1994), was of a much smaller scale, depicting the life of the infamous director Ed Wood. Starring Johnny Depp in the title role, the film is an homage to the low-budget science fiction and horror films of Burton's childhood and handles its comical protagonist and his motley band of collaborators with surprising fondness and sensitivity. Owing to creative squabbles during the making of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman declined to score Ed Wood, and the assignment went to Howard Shore. While a commercial failure at the time of its release, Ed Wood became a cult classic and was well-received by critics. Martin Landau received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi, and the film received the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

Despite Burton's intention to still lead the Batman franchise, Warner Bros. considered Batman Returns too dark and unsafe for children. To attract the young audience, it was decided that Joel Schumacher, who had directed films like The Client , would lead the third film, while Burton would only produce it in conjunction with Peter MacGregor-Scott. Following this change and the changes made by the new director, Michael Keaton resigned from the lead role and was replaced by Val Kilmer. Filming for Batman Forever began in late 1994 with new actors: Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin and Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma/The Riddler; the only two actors who returned after Batman Returns were Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon and Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth. The film, a combination of the darkness that characterized the saga and colors and neon signs proposed by Schumacher, was a huge box office success, earning $336 million. Warner Bros. demanded that Schumacher delete some scenes so the film did not have the same tone as its predecessor, Batman Returns (later they were added as deleted scenes on the 2005 DVD release).

In 1996, Burton and Selick reunited for the musical fantasy James and the Giant Peach , based on the book by Roald Dahl. Burton, once again, served only as a producer due to his contributions to making Mars Attacks! (1996). The film, a combination of live action and stop motion footage, starred Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis, Simon Callow and Jane Leeves among others, with Selick's animation direction. While a box office disappointment for Disney, the film was received well by critics for its story and visual aspects and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (by Randy Newman).

Elfman and Burton reunited for Mars Attacks. Based on a popular science-fiction trading card series, the film was a hybrid of 1950s science fiction and 1970s all-star disaster films. The coincidence made it an inadvertent spoof of the blockbuster Independence Day , which had been released five months earlier. The film boasted an all-star cast, including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Lukas Haas, Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Christina Applegate, and Jack Black.

Sleepy Hollow , released in late 1999, had a supernatural setting and starred Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, a detective with an interest in forensic science rather than the schoolteacher of Washington Irving's original tale. With Sleepy Hollow, Burton paid homage to the horror films of the English company Hammer Films. Christopher Lee, one of Hammer's stars, was given a cameo role. A host of Burton regulars appeared in supporting roles (Michael Gough, Jeffrey Jones, and Christopher Walken, among others), and Christina Ricci was cast as Katrina van Tassel. A well-regarded supporting cast was headed by Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths and Ian McDiarmid. Mostly well received by critics, and with a special mention to Elfman's gothic score, the film has grossed $207 million worldwide and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as two BAFTAs for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. A box office success, Sleepy Hollow was also a turning point for Burton. Along with the change in his personal life (separation from actress Lisa Marie), Burton changed radically in style for his next project, leaving the haunted forests and colorful outcasts behind to go on to directing Planet of the Apes which, as Burton had repeatedly noted, was "not a remake" of the earlier film.


Burton (right) and Pedro Almodovar at the premiere of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Madrid, in 2007 Pedro Almodovar and Tim Burton 01 (cropped).jpg
Burton (right) and Pedro Almodóvar at the première of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Madrid, in 2007

Planet of the Apes was a commercial success, grossing $68 million in its opening weekend and eventually it earned $180 million in North America and $362 million worldwide. The film however has received mixed reviews and is widely considered inferior to the first adaptation of the novel. In 2003, Burton directed Big Fish , based on the novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace. The film is about a father telling the story of his life to his son using exaggeration and color. Starring Ewan McGregor as young Edward Bloom and Albert Finney as an older Edward Bloom, the film also stars Jessica Lange, Billy Crudup, Danny DeVito, Alison Lohman and Marion Cotillard. Big Fish received four Golden Globe nominations as well as an Academy Award nomination for Elfman's score. The film was also the second collaboration between Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, who played the characters of Jenny and the Witch, and Burton and Danny DeVito, who played Amos Calloway the circus ringleader.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, and Deep Roy as the Oompa-Loompas, the film generally took a more faithful approach to the source material than the 1971 adaptation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory , although some liberties were taken, such as adding Wonka's issue with his father (played by Christopher Lee). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was later nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The film made over $207 million domestically. Filming proved difficult as Burton, Depp, and Danny Elfman had to work on this and Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) at the same time, which was Burton's first full-length stop motion film as a director, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp as Victor and Helena Bonham Carter as Emily.

Burton directed his first music video, "Bones", in 2006. "Bones" is the sixth overall single by American indie rock band The Killers and the second released from their second studio album, Sam's Town . Starring in this video were actors Michael Steger and Devon Aoki. Burton went on to direct a second music video for The Killers, "Here with Me", starring Winona Ryder, released in 2012. [18]

The DreamWorks/Warner Bros. production Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street , based on the 1979 Broadway musical, was released on December 21, 2007 to critical acclaim and grossed $153 million worldwide. Burton's work on Sweeney Todd won the National Board of Review Award for Best Director, [19] received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director, [20] and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film blends explicit gore and Broadway tunes and was well-received by critics. Johnny Depp's performance as Sweeney Todd was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

In 2005, filmmaker Shane Acker released his short film 9 , a story about a sentient rag doll living in a post-apocalyptic world who tries to stop machines from destroying the rest of his eight fellow rag dolls. The film won numerous awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. After seeing the short film, Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, director of Wanted , showed interest in producing a feature-length adaptation of the film. Directed by Acker, the full-length film was produced by Burton, written by Acker (story) and Pamela Pettler (screenplay, co-writer of Corpse Bride ), and featured the voice work of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and Crispin Glover, among others.


Burton speaking about 9 at Comic-Con, 2009 Tim Burton at ComicCon 2009.jpg
Burton speaking about 9 at Comic-Con, 2009

Tim Burton appeared at the 2009 Comic-Con in San Diego, California, to promote both 9 and Alice in Wonderland ; the latter won two Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. In Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland, the story is set 13 years after the original Lewis Carroll tales. Mia Wasikowska was cast as Alice. The original start date for filming was May 2008. [21] Torpoint and Plymouth were the locations used for filming from September 1 – October 14, and the film remains set in the Victorian era. During this time, filming took place in Antony House in Torpoint. [22] 250 local extras were chosen in early August. [23] [24] Other production work took place in London. [25] The film was originally to be released in 2009, but was pushed to March 5, 2010. [26] The film starred Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter; Matt Lucas as both Tweedledee and Tweedledum; Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen; Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat; Anne Hathaway as the White Queen; Alan Rickman as Absolem the Caterpillar; Michael Sheen as McTwisp the White Rabbit; and Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts, with his face and voice added onto a CGI body. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a commercial success, grossing $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of Burton's career. Burton produced the film's sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), which was directed by James Bobin. [27]

Dark Shadows , in addition to starring Burton regulars Depp and Bonham Carter, saw Burton reunite with Batman Returns star Michelle Pfeiffer, while Burton once again collaborated with composer Danny Elfman and costume designer Colleen Atwood. The film was released on May 11, 2012. Burton co-produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with Timur Bekmambetov, who also served as director (they previously worked together in 9 ). The film, released on June 22, 2012, was based on the novel by screenwriter and novelist Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote the film's screenplay and also authored Pride and Prejudice and Zombies . The film starred Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln, Anthony Mackie as William H. Johnson, Joseph Mawle as Lincoln's father Thomas, Robin McLeavy as Lincoln's mother, Nancy, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lincoln's love interest (and later wife), Mary Ann Todd. The film received mixed reviews and performed poorly at the box office. [28] [29] He then remade his 1984 short film Frankenweenie as a feature-length stop motion film, distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. [30] Burton has said, "The film is based on a memory that I had when I was growing up and with my relationship with a dog that I had." [31] The film was released on October 5, 2012, and met with positive reviews. [32]

Burton directed the 2014 biographical drama film Big Eyes about American artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), whose work was fraudulently claimed in the 1950s and 1960s by her then-husband, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), and their heated divorce trial after Margaret accused Walter of stealing credit for her paintings. The script was written by the screenwriters behind Burton's Ed Wood, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Filming began in Vancouver, British Columbia, in mid-2013. The film was distributed by The Weinstein Company and released in U.S. theaters on December 25, 2014. It received generally positive reviews from critics. [33] [34]

Burton entered talks to direct a film adaptation of the fantasy novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children , written by Ransom Riggs, in November 2011. [35] The film, starring Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, and Samuel L. Jackson, was released in theatres by 20th Century Fox on September 30, 2016. [36] Burton also directed a live-action adaptation of the Disney animated film Dumbo , released on March 29, 2019, with Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, and Michael Keaton starring. The film grossed $353 million worldwide against a $170 million budget and combined production and advertising costs of $300 million, ultimately losing money. [37]


In February 2021, it was announced that Burton would be directing and producing Wednesday , a series for Netflix based on the titular character from The Addams Family starring Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci. [38] [39] This marked Burton's first foray into directing television since the 1980s. He helmed four episodes in the first season, which began production in September 2021 for a November 2022 release. The show was released to critical acclaim.

In October 2022, Burton announced that he will probably never work with Disney again after Dumbo , due to his distinctive style and working approach not matching with what Disney is currently looking for, with its focus on Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars . He stated that "It's gotten to be very homogenized, very consolidated. There's less room for different types of things". [40] [41]

Since 1990, Burton had been considering to make Beetlejuice 2 . [14] :145 [42] In July 2012, Burton was announced to be working with Seth Grahame-Smith on such project. Actor Michael Keaton has also expressed interest in reprising his role as the title character along with Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz. [43] [44] In October 2017, Deadline Hollywood reported that Mike Vukadinovich was hired to write a script in time for the film's 30th anniversary. [45] In April 2019, Warner Bros. stated the sequel had been shelved. [46] In February 2022, however, the sequel was announced again, this time produced by Brad Pitt's studio Plan B Entertainment, alongside Warner Bros. [47] Though Burton initially said that he wasn't involved, he later retracted himself, [41] and the sequel was officially confirmed to start shooting in London on May 10, 2023, for a release date on September 6, 2024, with Keaton and Ryder reprising their roles alongside Ortega and Justin Theroux joining the cast. [48]

Unrealized projects

After Kevin Smith had been hired to write a new Superman film, he suggested Burton to direct. [49] Burton came on and Warner Bros. set a theatrical release date for the summer of 1998, the 60th anniversary of the character's debut in Action Comics . [50] Nicolas Cage was signed on to play Superman, Burton hired Wesley Strick to rewrite Smith's script, and the film entered pre-production in June 1997. For budgetary reasons, Warner Bros. ordered another rewrite from Dan Gilroy, delayed the film, and ultimately put it on hold in April 1998. Burton then left to direct Sleepy Hollow . [50] Burton has depicted the experience as a difficult one, citing differences with producer Jon Peters and the studio, stating, "I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don't really want to be working with." [51]

In 2002, The Walt Disney Company began to consider producing a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas , but rather than using stop motion, Disney wanted to use computer animation. [52] Burton convinced Disney to drop the idea. "I was always very protective of ['Nightmare'], not to do sequels or things of that kind," Burton explained. "You know, 'Jack visits Thanksgiving world' or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it... Because it's a mass-market kind of thing, it was important to kind of keep that purity of it." [53] Regardless, in 2009, Henry Selick stated that he could make a sequel to Nightmare if he and Burton could create a good story for it. [54]

In 2012, Shane Acker confirmed that Burton would work with Valve to create his next animated feature film, Deep. Like 9 , the film would take place in a post-apocalyptic world (although set in a different universe). Deep would be another darker animated film, as Shane Acker has expressed his interest in creating more PG-13 animated films. [55] Since then, there have been no further mentions of Deep, with Acker focusing on another project announced in 2013 ( Beasts of Burden ). [56] [57]

On January 19, 2010, it was announced that after Dark Shadows, Burton's next project would be Maleficent , a Wicked -like film that showed the origin and the past of Sleeping Beauty 's antagonist Maleficent. In an interview with Fandango published February 23, 2010, however, Burton denied he was directing any upcoming Sleeping Beauty film. [58] However, on November 23, 2010, in an interview with MTV, Burton confirmed that he was indeed putting together a script for Maleficent. [59] It was announced by The Hollywood Reporter on May 16, 2011, that Burton was no longer attached to Maleficent. [60]

It was reported that Burton would direct a 3D stop motion animation adaptation of The Addams Family , which was confirmed by Christopher Meledandri, [61] but the project was scrapped on July 17, 2013. [62] On July 19, 2010, Burton was announced as the director of the upcoming film adaptation of Monsterpocalypse . [63]

In 2011, it was reported that Burton was working on a live-action adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame starring Josh Brolin, who would also be co-producing. The project did not move forward. [64] [65]

Frequent collaborators

Personal life

Burton was married to Lena Gieseke, a German-born artist. Their marriage ended in 1991 after four years. [66] He went on to live with model and actress Lisa Marie; she acted in the films he made during their relationship from 1992 to 2001, most notably in Sleepy Hollow , Ed Wood , and Mars Attacks! . Burton developed a romantic relationship with English actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he met while filming Planet of the Apes . Marie responded in 2005 by holding an auction of personal belongings that Burton had left behind, much to his dismay. [67]

Burton and Bonham Carter have two children: a son, born in 2003 and a daughter born in 2007. [68] Bonham Carter's representative said in December 2014 that she and Burton had broken up amicably earlier that year. [69] It is unclear whether or not they were married; Bonham Carter has used the word divorce when discussing the end of their relationship [70] while other news outlets state that they never married. [69] The Independent reported in September 2023 that Burton and Bonham Carter had indeed been married for years before their separation, in addition to confirming that Burton is an Anglophile. [71]

On March 15, 2010, Burton received the insignia of Chevalier of Arts and Letters from then-Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand. [72] The same year, Burton was the President of the Jury for the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, held from May 12 to 24 in Cannes, France. [73]

Burton's relationship with Italian actress and model Monica Bellucci was reported in February 2023. They met in October 2022 at the Lyon's Lumière Film Festival. [74] Bellucci first spoke publicly about their relationship in June 2023. [75]


From November 22, 2009, to April 26, 2010, Burton had a retrospective at the MoMA in New York with over 700 "drawings, paintings, photographs, storyboards, moving-image works, puppets, maquettes, costumes and cinematic ephemera", including many from the filmmaker's personal collection. [76]

From MoMA, the "Tim Burton" exhibition traveled directly to Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. Running from June 24 to October 10, 2010, the ACMI exhibition incorporated additional material from Burton's Alice in Wonderland , which was released in March 2010. [77]

"The Art of Tim Burton" was exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from May 29 to October 31, 2011, in the Museum's Resnick Pavilion. [78] LACMA also featured six films of Tim Burton's idol, Vincent Price. [79]

"Tim Burton, the exhibition/Tim Burton, l'exposition" was exhibited at the Cinémathèque Française from March 7 to August 5, 2012, in Paris, France. [80] All of Tim Burton's movies were shown during the exhibition.

"Tim Burton at Seoul Museum of Art" was exhibited as a promotion of Hyundai Card at Seoul Museum of Art from December 12, 2012, to April 15, 2013, in Seoul, South Korea. [81] This exhibition featured 862 of Burton's works including drawings, paintings, short films, sculptures, music, and costumes that have been used in the making of his feature-length movies. The exhibition was divided into three parts: the first part, "Surviving Burbank", covered his younger years, from 1958 to 1976. The second, "Beautifying Burbank", covers 1977 to 1984, including his time with CalArts and Walt Disney. The last segment, "Beyond Burbank", covers 1985 onward. [82]

"Tim Burton and His World" was exhibited at the Stone Bell House from March 3 to August 8, 2014, in Prague, Czech Republic. [83] The exhibition later premiered at the Museu da Imagem e do Som in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 4, 2016, and lasted until June 5. [84] The exhibition was later held in Artis Tree in Taikoo Place, Hong Kong, from November 5, 2016, to January 23, 2017. [85] The exhibition returned to Brazil from May 28 to August 11, 2019, being held at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Brasília. [86]

Burton's first exhibition in the United States in nearly a decade, Lost Vegas: Tim Burton , opened in October 2019 at The Neon Museum in Las Vegas. [87]


Directed features
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure Warner Bros.
1988 Beetlejuice
1989 Batman
1990 Edward Scissorhands 20th Century Fox
1992 Batman Returns Warner Bros.
1994 Ed Wood Buena Vista Pictures
1996 Mars Attacks! Warner Bros.
1999 Sleepy Hollow Paramount Pictures
2001 Planet of the Apes 20th Century Fox
2003 Big Fish Sony Pictures Releasing
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Warner Bros.
Corpse Bride
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros.
2010 Alice in Wonderland Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
2012 Dark Shadows Warner Bros.
Frankenweenie Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
2014 Big Eyes The Weinstein Company
2016 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 20th Century Fox
2019 Dumbo Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
2024 Beetlejuice 2 Warner Bros.


Academy Awards

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2006 Corpse Bride Best Animated Feature Nominated [88]
2013 Frankenweenie Nominated

BAFTA Awards

British Academy of Film Awards
YearNominated workCategoryResult
2004 Big Fish Best Direction Nominated
Best Film Nominated
2013 Frankenweenie Best Animated Film Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards
YearNominated workCategoryResult
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Best Feature Film Nominated

Daytime Emmy Award

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
1990 Beetlejuice: Season 1 Outstanding Animated Program Won [89]

Golden Globe Awards

YearNominated workCategoryResult
2008 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Best Director Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
2011 Alice in Wonderland Nominated
2013 Frankenweenie Best Animated Film Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

YearNominated workCategoryResultRef.
2023 Wednesday : "Wednesday's Child Is Full of Woe" Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Pending [90]
Wednesday: Season 1 Outstanding Comedy Series Pending

Saturn Awards

YearNominated workCategoryResult
1990 Beetlejuice Best Director Nominated
Edward Scissorhands Best Fantasy Film Won
1993 Batman Returns Nominated
Best DirectorNominated
1994 The Nightmare Before Christmas Best Fantasy FilmWon
1997 Mars Attacks! Best DirectorNominated
2000 Sleepy Hollow Nominated
2006 Corpse Bride Best Animated Film Won
2008 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Best DirectorNominated
2013 Frankenweenie Best Animated FilmWon

Other awards

Cannes Film Festival

National Board of Review Awards

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

Producers Guild of America Awards

64th Venice International Film Festival

Inkpot Award

Lacanian Psychoanalysis Prize

The Order of the Arts and Letters

Moscow International Film Festival

David di Donatello Awards

Lumière Film Festival

Awards received by Burton films

YearTitleAcademy AwardsBAFTA AwardsGolden Globe Awards
1988 Beetlejuice 112
1989 Batman 1161
1990 Edward Scissorhands 1411
1992 Batman Returns 22
1994 Ed Wood 22231
1999 Sleepy Hollow 3132
2001 Planet of the Apes 2
2003 Big Fish 174
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 141
Corpse Bride 1
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 31242
2010 Alice in Wonderland 32523
2012 Frankenweenie 111
2014 Big Eyes 231


Critical, public and commercial reception to films Burton has directed as of August 2023.

YearFilm Rotten Tomatoes [94] Metacritic [95] CinemaScore [96] BudgetBox office [97]
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure 88% (50 reviews)
47 (14 reviews)$7 million$40.9 million
1988 Beetlejuice 86% (63 reviews)
70 (18 reviews)B$15 million$84.6 million [98]
1989 Batman 76% (138 reviews)
69 (21 reviews)A$35 million [99] $411.5 million
1990 Edward Scissorhands 89% (65 reviews)
74 (19 reviews)A–$20 million$86 million
1992 Batman Returns 81% (90 reviews)
68 (23 reviews)B$80 million [100] $282.8 million
1994 Ed Wood 93% (68 reviews)
70 (19 reviews)B+$18 million [101] $5.9 million
1996 Mars Attacks! 56% (86 reviews)
52 (19 reviews)B$70 million$101.4 million
1999 Sleepy Hollow 70% (125 reviews)
65 (35 reviews)B–$100 million [102] $206.1 million
2001 Planet of the Apes 44% (160 reviews)
50 (34 reviews)B–$100 million [103] $362.2 million
2003 Big Fish 75% (220 reviews)
58 (42 reviews)B+$70 million [104] $122.9 million
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 83% (228 reviews)
72 (40 reviews)A–$150 million [105] $475 million
2005 Corpse Bride 84% (197 reviews)
83 (35 reviews)B+$40 million$118.1 million
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 86% (232 reviews)
83 (39 reviews)$50 million [106] $153.4 million
2010 Alice in Wonderland 51% (279 reviews)
53 (38 reviews)A–$200 million [107] $1.02 billion
2012 Dark Shadows 35% (263 reviews)
55 (42 reviews)B–$150 million [108] $245.5 million
2012 Frankenweenie 88% (225 reviews)
74 (38 reviews)B+$39 million [109] $81.5 million
2014 Big Eyes 72% (198 reviews)
62 (40 reviews)$10 million$29.3 million
2016 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 64% (259 reviews)
57 (43 reviews)B+$110 million [110] $296.5 million
2019 Dumbo 46% (371 reviews)
51 (54 reviews)A–$170 million [111] $353.2 million [112]
Total71.3%64$1.434 billion$4.473 billion



  1. Tim Burton's middle name is cited as Walter by the Museum of Modern Art on its web appearance for a 2009 exhibition on Burton's artwork [1] and a book [2] covering Burton's career as an artist and filmmaker, though it is cited as William by other sources, such as the Tim Burton Collective. [3]

Related Research Articles

<i>Batman</i> (1989 film) Superhero film by Tim Burton

Batman is a 1989 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Directed by Tim Burton, it is the first installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film was produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber and stars Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance. The film takes place early in the title character's war on crime and depicts his conflict with his archenemy The Joker.

<i>Batman Returns</i> 1992 film directed by Tim Burton

Batman Returns is a 1992 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and written by Daniel Waters. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, it is the sequel to Batman (1989) and the second installment in the 1989–1997 Batman series. In the film, the superhero vigilante Batman comes into conflict with wealthy industrialist Max Shreck and deformed crime boss Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin, who seek power, influence, and respect regardless of the cost to Gotham City. Their plans are complicated by Selina Kyle, Shreck's formerly-meek secretary, who seeks vengeance against Shreck as Catwoman. The cast includes Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and Michael Murphy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danny Elfman</span> American composer (born 1953)

Daniel Robert Elfman is an American film composer, singer, songwriter, and musician. He came to prominence as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the new wave band Oingo Boingo in the early 1980s. Since scoring his first studio film in 1985, Elfman has garnered international recognition for composing over 100 feature film scores, as well as compositions for television, stage productions, and the concert hall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Keaton</span> American actor (born 1951)

Michael John Douglas, known professionally as Michael Keaton, is an American actor. He is known for his leading roles in a wide variety of genre films. He has received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards, in addition to nominations for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. In 2016, he was named Officer of Order of Arts and Letters in France.

<i>Beetlejuice</i> 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tim Burton

Beetlejuice is a 1988 American fantasy horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton, written by Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren, and Larry Wilson, produced by The Geffen Company, distributed by Warner Bros., and starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder, and Michael Keaton as the title character. The plot revolves around a recently deceased couple who, as ghosts haunting their former home, contact Beetlejuice, an obnoxious and devious "bio-exorcist" from the Netherworld, to scare the home's new inhabitants away.

<i>Edward Scissorhands</i> 1990 American gothic fantasy romance film by Tim Burton

Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American fantasy gothic romance film directed by Tim Burton. It was produced by Burton and Denise Di Novi, written by Caroline Thompson from a story by her and Burton, and starring Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, and Alan Arkin. It tells the story of an unfinished artificial humanoid who has scissor blades instead of hands that is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter.

<i>The Nightmare Before Christmas</i> 1993 stop-motion animated film by Henry Selick

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick in his feature directorial debut and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of "Halloween Town", who stumbles upon "Christmas Town" and schemes to take over the holiday. Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score and provided the singing voice of Jack. The principal voice cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.

<i>Pee-wees Big Adventure</i> 1985 film by Tim Burton

Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Tim Burton in his feature-film directing debut. It stars Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol, along with E.G. Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, and Judd Omen. Described as a "parody" or "farce version" of the 1948 Italian classic Bicycle Thieves, it tells the story of Pee-wee's nationwide search for his stolen bicycle.

<i>Ed Wood</i> (film) 1994 film by Tim Burton

Ed Wood is a 1994 American biographical comedy-drama film directed and produced by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Ed Wood, the eponymous cult filmmaker. The film concerns the period in Wood's life when he made his best-known films as well as his relationship with actor Bela Lugosi, played by Martin Landau. Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, Lisa Marie, and Bill Murray are among the supporting cast.

<i>Frankenweenie</i> (1984 film) 1984 film by Tim Burton

Frankenweenie is a 1984 American science fiction comedy horror featurette directed by Tim Burton and written by him and Leonard Ripps. It is both a parody and homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Burton later directed a feature-length stop-motion animated remake, released in 2012.

<i>Vincent</i> (1982 film) 1982 American film

Vincent is a 1982 American stop-motion animated short film written, designed and directed by Tim Burton, and produced by Rick Heinrichs. There is currently no individual release of the film except for a few bootleg releases. It can be found on the 2008 Special Edition and Collector's Edition DVDs of The Nightmare Before Christmas as a bonus feature and on the Cinema16 DVD American Short Films.

<i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i> (film) 2005 film by Tim Burton

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005 musical fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and written by John August, based on the 1964 British novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film stars Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, alongside David Kelly, Helena Bonham Carter, Noah Taylor, Missi Pyle, James Fox, Deep Roy, and Christopher Lee. The storyline follows Charlie as he wins a contest along with four other children and is led by Wonka on a tour of his chocolate factory.

<i>Corpse Bride</i> 2005 stop-motion animated film by Tim Burton

Corpse Bride is a 2005 stop-motion animated musical fantasy film directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton from a screenplay by John August, Caroline Thompson, and Pamela Pettler, based on characters created by Burton and Carlos Grangel. The plot is set in a fictional Victorian era village in England. Johnny Depp leads the cast as the voice of Victor, while Helena Bonham Carter voices Emily, the titular bride. An international co-production between the United States and United Kingdom and produced by Tim Burton Productions and Laika Entertainment, Corpse Bride is the third stop-motion feature film produced by Burton and the first directed by him. This is also the first stop-motion feature from Burton that was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

<i>Alice in Wonderland</i> (2010 film) Film directed by Tim Burton

Alice in Wonderland is a 2010 American period adventure fantasy film directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay written by Linda Woolverton and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars Mia Wasikowska in the title role, with Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, and Crispin Glover, while featuring the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, and Timothy Spall. A live-action adaptation and re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's works and Walt Disney's 1951 animated feature film of the same name, the film follows Alice Kingsleigh, a nineteen-year-old who accidentally falls down a rabbit hole, returns to Wonderland, and alongside the Mad Hatter helps restore the White Queen to her throne by fighting against the Red Queen and her Jabberwocky, a dragon that terrorizes Wonderland’s inhabitants.

<i>Frankenweenie</i> (2012 film) 2012 stop-motion animated film by Tim Burton

Frankenweenie is a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated science fiction horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton, written by John August, and starring Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, and Winona Ryder. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a feature-length remake of Burton's 1984 short film of the same name, and is also both a parody of and homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley's 1818 book Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Set in the 1960s, the film follows a boy named Victor Frankenstein who uses the power of electricity to resurrect his dead Bull Terrier, Sparky, but his peers discover what he has done and reanimate their own deceased pets and other creatures, resulting in mayhem.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tim Burton's unrealized projects</span>

The following is a list of unproduced Tim Burton projects, in roughly chronological order. During a career that has spanned over 30 years, Tim Burton has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction.

Frankenweenie: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the film score for the Disney film, Frankenweenie by Danny Elfman, was released September 25, 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tim Burton filmography</span>

Tim Burton is an American film director, producer, artist, writer, animator, puppeteer, and actor.

Beetlejuice 2 is an upcoming American fantasy comedy film directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by the writing team of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, based on a story by Seth Grahame-Smith. The film is the sequel to Beetlejuice (1988) and stars Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Jenna Ortega, Monica Bellucci, and Willem Dafoe.


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Further reading