Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ Comic-Con 2012 Panel and The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition
By: Michael Cantrell
When we think of Tim Burton and stop motion, most of us think of The Nightmare Before Christmas. NBC was a brain child of Burton, which most casual viewers of the film believe Burton directed. As most hardcore fans of the film know, Burton was a writer, producer and creative consultant on the film, but not the director. That honor goes to Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach and Coraline). Although, Burton did bring us Corpse Bride and showed us all that he has the talent to direct stop motion feature films. Corpse Bride was a box office disappointment. But, Burton’s roots are firmly grounded in animation. It is where he started with Disney. Burton now has another chance to gain the stop motion loving audience with Frankenweenie. So, he dragged himself to the geek mecha of Comic-Con and sat down in Hall H with 6500 fans to discuss the upcoming film with moderator Chris Hardwick (Nerdist).
The crowd went wild when Burton hit the stage. You could tell that Tim Burton was a little out of his element due to some of his wild hand movements while he was talking. Almost as if he was nervous while speaking. Perhaps interviews or being in front of live audiences is not his forte. That being said, he did give us all a treat by showing a trailer and two clips from his new film Frankenweenie. The trailer, which you can see below, was a throwback to the 50’s era horror trailers. It gave a lot more story detail and showcased a lot of the characters from the film. Something we haven’t seen in previous trailers or teaser trailers. It was also shown in 3D. Which I must say, Hall H at SDCC does a great job with the 3D on the screen, not to mention the sound is always phenomenal.
The next two clips that Burton brought were full scenes from the film. Unfortunately, I can’t find them online. The first clip introduces Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) , Victor’s teacher. Mr. Rzykruski gives the class a brief instruction on how lightning strikes people and the effects of a lightning strike. This was also a good introduction to the kids in Victor’s class. According to Burton, the kids in the class are based on actual classmates from his childhood.
The second clip involved Victor’s friend Igor who pressures (or blackmails) Victor into showing him how he brought Sparky back to life. Igor brings a dead fish from the pet store to Victor and they complete the experiment, lightening and all, on the fish. Unexpected results take place when the fish becomes reanimated, but invisible. The second clip gives more detail into what the plot of the story will be in Frankenweenie. From what I gather, once Victor’s invention is put to the test, the reanimated animals in the town cause havoc. A fish becoming invisible is one thing, but if other animals mutate into much scarier and life threatening beasts…Victor is going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do.
Burton was asked about the darker elements of the film. He admitted that when he first made the live action Frankenweenieshort film it was meant to be attached as a short to a Disney film. The people at Disney thought it was a little too dark and passed on releasing it to the public. Burton discussed how most Disney films have a dark side to them, giving Pinocchio as an example. Burton seemed genuinely excited about this film and the desire to expand on the ideas he put in the original live action short.
Moving on from the panel, I made my way to the exhibit floor later in the afternoon and decided to check out the Frankenweenie walk-through. This was a small enclosed booth that had a lot of the stop motion figures, sets and picture stills from the film. Below you can see some of the pictures I took of the characters and sets. I was particularly drawn to the classroom which had Mr. Rzykruski and the students. There’s also a set piece with Victor and Sparky in his attic/experiment room, as well as a set piece of the kitchen with Victor’s mother and father. The characters were no more than four inches tall and extremely detailed. I apologize if my pictures weren’t the best, I was feeling a little rushed and also geeking out a bit on all of the pieces around me.
Later in the evening I left the hustle and bustle of the exhibit floor in exchange for the hustle and bustle of the Gaslamp district across the street from the Convention Center. In a large grassy area of the Gaslamp, Disney had set up a New Holland (looking similar to the Hollywood sign) windmill, which represents the name of the town and a set piece in Frankenweenie, on top of a tented area. I figured I had to check this thing out. It was called the “Electrifying Gardens.” Turns out this was a small walk-through inside the tent that was set up like a grave site. It also had flat screen TV’s at some of the grave stones showing short clips from the film (with no sound). There was a soundtrack playing in the background, which I will assume is from the film (makes sense, right?). I decided to take a quick picture in front of dear ole Sparky’s grave stone. At the end of the walk-through you could take a picture in front of a green screen which placed a character and the name of the film in the picture. The line was long, and the day was dragging on so I decided to bypass this one.
Oh, did I mention I got some swag too? A little trick or treat bag that came with a glow stick and a Disney collectors pin (if you are familiar with Disney’s pin trading, then you know what I’m talking about) with Sparky on it. What happened to the glow stick you ask? Well, I brought two of the bags and glow sticks to my kids when I got back home. And if you have kids, you know that a glow stick will not last more than a few seconds if it’s within arm’s reach. So they got cracked and shaken in an instant, and of course were done glowing about an hour later. I kept the pin though.
Thus ends my journey through Frankenweenie, which I must say I am very excited to see when it hits theaters October 5th. Disney recently released nine character pictures for the film that you can see over at my blog Grab Bag Cinema. There are some interesting characters in this film. What more could you expect from Tim Burton?
Are you excited to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie? Did you see the live action short (which was on The Nightmare Before Christmas DVD and Blu-ray) of Frankenweenie