Tim Burton is is an American film director, producer, artist, writer and animator. He is known for his dark, gothic and quirky fantasy films such as Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), the animated musical The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), the biographical film Ed Wood (1994), the horror fantasy Sleepy Hollow (1999), and later efforts such as Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012) and Frankenweenie (2012).
He is also known for blockbusters such as the adventure comedy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), the superhero films Batman (1989) and its first sequel Batman Returns (1992), the sci-fi film Planet of the Apes (2001), the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and the fantasy film Alice in Wonderland (2010), which garnered a worldwide gross of over $1 billion.
Let’s discover some additional facts about him!
1. Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton was born August 25 1958 in Burbank, California.
2. He is the son of Jean Burton, the owner of a cat-themed gift shop, and Bill Burton, a former minor league baseball player who would later work for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department.
3. As a preteen, Burton would make short films in his backyard on Evergreen Street using crude stop motion animation techniques or shoot them on 8 mm film without sound (one of his oldest known juvenile films is The Island of Doctor Agor, that he made when he was 13 years old).
4. Burton studied at Burbank High School, but he was not a particularly good student.
5. He was a very introspective person, and found his pleasure in painting, drawing and watching films.
6. His future work would be heavily influenced by the works of such childhood heroes as Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl.
7. After graduating from Burbank High School with Jeff Riekenberg, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, to study character animation.
8. As a student at CalArts, Burton made the shorts Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus.
9. Stalk of the Celery Monster attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions’ animation division, which offered Burton an animator’s apprenticeship at the studio.
10. He worked as an animator, storyboard artist and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron and Tron. His concept art never made it into the finished films.
11. 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 the filmmaker, and depicting a young boy who fantasizes that he is his hero Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration.
12. The film was shown at the Chicago Film Festival and released, alongside the teen drama Tex, for two weeks in one Los Angeles cinema.
13. 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.
14. Burton’s next live-action short, 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.
15. After Frankenweenie was completed, Disney fired Burton, under the pretext of him spending the company’s resources on doing a film that would be too dark and scary for children to see.
16. Pursuing then an opportunity to make a full-length film, he was approached by Griffin Dunne to direct the black comedy film After Hours. However, after Martin Scorsese’s project The Last Temptation of Christ was cancelled, Scorsese showed an interest in directing After Hours. Respectfully, Burton bowed out.
17. Not long after, actor Paul Reubens saw Vincent and Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-wee Herman.
18. 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.
19. After directing episodes for the revitalized version of ’50s/’60s anthology horror series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Burton received 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.
20. Burton’s ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives, and he received his first big budget film, Batman.
21. In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, 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.
22. In 2004, Matthew Bourne came to Burton with the idea to turn the story of Edward into a ballet. In 2005, the ballet first aired. It has now toured the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.
23. The day Warner Brothers declined to make the more personal Scissorhands even after the success of Batman, Burton finally agreed to direct the sequel for Warner Brothers on the condition that he would be granted total control.
24. The result was Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton returning as the Dark Knight, 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.
25. Next, Burton wrote and produced (but did not direct, due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) for Disney, originally meant to be a children’s book in rhyme.
26. The film received positive reviews for the film’s stop motion animation, musical score and original storyline and was a box office success, grossing $50 million.
Burton collaborated with Selick again for James and the Giant Peach (1996), which Burton co-produced. The film helped to generate a renewed interest in stop motion animation.
29. In 1996, he chose to make ‘Mars Attacks!,’ a movie based on a series of violent trading cards, over another series of violent trading cards. The idea for Burton’s manic alien invasion comedy came from a series of infamous and controversial Topps trading cards called ‘Mars Attacks!’, a series that turned 50-years-old this year and depicts the invasion of Earth by beings from Mars in a very violent and bloody fashion.
31. However, when the players are revealed to the camera, the audience learns they are apes. Instead, we got the confusing ending that Burton recently admitted to the NY Times that even he doesn’t understand.
39. Burton was the President of the Jury for the 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival, held from May 12 to 24, 2010 in Cannes, France.
40. On March 15, 2010, Burton received the insignia of Chevalier of Arts and Letters from then-Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand.
41. Burton has stated that his favorite films are Dracula A.D. 1972, The Wicker Man, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The War of the Gargantuas and The Omega Man.
42. Tim and his ex wife Helena Bonham Carter used to live in two different houses connected by a grand hallway.
43. In 2010 they purchased a third house for the nanny and their two kids.
44. Johnny Depp only says 169 words in Edward Scissorhands.
45. It took an entire week of shooting to create one minute of film for A Nightmare Before Christmas.
46. Jack Skellington first appeared in Beetlejuice. His head can be seen atop Beetlejuice’s carnival hat.
47. Despite being a major character, Michael Keaton, who played Betelgeuse, only filmed Beetlejuice for two weeks and is only on screen for 17 and a half minutes.
48. Every character in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland’s Wonderland has a proper name.
49. Tim frequently features a dinner scene in his films.
50. Deep Roy, the actor who was hired to play an Oompa-Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ended up playing ALL of the Oompa-Loompas.
51. The factory Charlie’s dad works at makes Smilex toothpaste. This is the same name of the product that the Joker was selling in Tim Burton’s Batman.
52. In Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume had to be vacuum sealed once she put it on.
53. Speaking of Batman Returns, according to Tim Burton’s book Burton on Burton the live penguins were the biggest divas on set.
54. Apparently, Johnny Depp adopted the horse that played Gunpowder in Sleepy Hollow when he heard it was going to be put down.
55. The sound used for the Martians in Mars Attacks! was reportedly created by reversing the sound of a duck’s quack.
56. He may be portrayed as an odd and reclusive figure by the media, but Burton insists that he is a misunderstood character. “I’ve always been misrepresented. You know, I could dress in a clown costume and laugh with the happy people but they’d still say I’m a dark personality,” he said.
57. When people were vaporized in Mars Attacks! the remains of their skeletons were either red or green because the movie was supposed to be released around Christmas.