Tim Burton revealed his true feelings about his former employer, Disney, likening working with the company to being trapped in a “horrible big circus”.
Over the weekend, the “Edward Scissorhands” director was in Lyon, France attending the Lumière Film Festival where he received the honorary Prix Lumiére award. At a press conference, the filmmaker began to ruminate on his career and talked about his intermittent relationship with Disney.
Burton’s career started out with Disney where his work on “Stalk of the Celery Monster” earned him an animation apprenticeship, but now, he thinks his collaborative days with the Mouse House are over.
Lamenting, according to Deadline, how Disney mainly focuses on their flagship franchises, Star Wars, Marvel, and the Pixar studio, Burton suggested it’s difficult for a smaller, independent project to flourish there. “It’s gotten to be very homogenized, very consolidated. There’s less room for different types of things.” He added that he has no plans to work on a Marvel movie anytime soon. “I can only deal with one universe, l can’t deal with a multi-universe.”
Burton’s remarks on the Marvel universe echoed those of filmmaker Martin Scorsese a few years ago. The “Beetlejuice” director seemed to point to his 2019 live-action remake of “Dumbo” as the breaking point.
“My history is that I started out there. I was hired and fired like several times throughout my career there. The thing about ‘Dumbo,’ is that’s why I think my days with Disney are done, I realized that I was Dumbo, that I was working in this horrible big circus and I needed to escape. That movie is quite autobiographical at a certain level,” he said.
The 2019 “Dumbo” was underwhelming commercially and critically and certainly didn’t reach the heights of which Burton is highly capable. Its opening three-day weekend raked in a disappointing $45 million despite having a budget of $170 million and having an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, and Beetlejuice himself, Michael Keaton. Poignantly, it seemed as if Burton was aware of the parallels to his own career even then. The villain of the film, played by Keaton, is a circus mogul who owns an amusement park called Dreamland and absorbs a small, independent circus capitalizing on a flying elephant for his own profit.
Burton appears far from done, but he doesn’t see himself making an independent film anytime soon either. “Here’s the thing. Independent film, I don’t know. I’ve only worked mainly with studios so I never really understood what an independent film was,” he said.
Burton was asked about his opinion of the political turmoil of his adopted home, the United Kingdom, and whether it would inspire a new film.
“It might inspire me to leave,” he quipped. “Obviously, it’s crazy. You keep thinking you’ve seen it all, right, and it just keeps getting more surreal and more surreal.”
When speaking about his 1996 film “Mars Attacks!” he referenced that it was his confusion as to what was going on in America in the early 1990s that was the inspiration for the project.
“It was a strange period of my life where I was very confused about America at the time. It seemed very contradictory, what was real and wasn’t real,” he said. “That was my way of exploring it and dealing with it, looking at the weirdness and the contradictions of things in the guise of a disaster, science fiction movie.”
The U.K. has seen its third prime minister in seven weeks but even the master of strange doesn’t think he could turn it into a narrative plot. Burton joked that if he did try to make a film about the political exchange in the U.K. that “no one would believe it”.
Tim Burton’s new series “Wednesday,” a spinoff of the “Addams Family,” is set to debut on Netflix on November 23rd. Watch the teaser here.
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