Thursday, March 19, 2009

More news on Johnny Depp’s ‘Dark Shadows’

Supernatural gothic sagas are crazy hot right now: HBO’s “True Blood,” those “Twilight” flicks everyone keeps talking about, plus a host of upcoming films like Benicio Del Toro’s “The Wolfman” and Nicolas Cage’s “Season of the Witch.” Even “Spider-Man 4”’s rumored villain is a vampire. Another of these Zeitgeist-y projects is the Johnny Depp-starring adaptation of the 1960s soap opera, “Dark Shadows,” which had been in development even before this obsession with monsters, ghosts and witches took hold.

But since word of the planned film surfaced two years ago, reliable “Dark Shadows” news has been hard to come by. Now an executive in Depp’s production company, Infinitum-Nihil, which is developing the movie, confirmed some details for MTV News, left others up in the air, and hinted that we might be seeing the makings of a new supernatural franchise.

Most importantly, we wanted to know if Johnny Depp is still attached to star. “Indeed he is,” confirmed Sam Sarkar, Infinitum’s director of development.

When it came to those Internet rumors about Tim Burton signing on to direct, though, Sarkar was somewhat more circumspect. “I can neither confirm nor deny that,” he said. “But I know it’s out there in the ether.”

Sounds like a deal is not yet in place but that Burton, who’s currently busy with another Depp-staring movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” tops Infinitum’s list of prospective directors. Of course, Depp and Burton have a long creative history together, from “Edward Scissorhands” to “Ed Wood” to “Sweeney Todd.”

While all the pieces are not yet in place, “Dark Shadows” is still very much a go at Warner Bros. “All I can say is that one is very active,” Sarkar said. “The studio will be making some announcements regarding it pretty soon. Very soon, probably.”

“Dark Shadows” premiered on ABC in 1966. Gothic romance, ghost stories, plots involving vampires, zombies and time-travel—the daytime soap had it all, and it became a runaway hit for the network over 1,225 episodes. The task facing producers is simply finding a way to shape a movie around such abundant, wide-ranging material.

“It was a soap opera—it was a daily show,” said Sarkar. “That’s something people forget. It’s one thing to adapt a weekly television series into a movie—it’s another thing to take a soap opera that’s been serialized daily and try to boil it down to two hours.”

As much as they’ll be forced to change and excise, they’re also committed to honoring an adored show. “I think it will be very true to the spirit of ‘Dark Shadows,’” Sarkar told us. “I think there’s going to be an authenticity to it.”

Any modifications will be made with the blessing of the mind behind the original series. Said Sarkar, “When Dan Curtis, the creator, was still alive, I met with [producer] David Kennedy, who originally brought the project to us and Curtis, and David has always been very adamant that there are certain things you should definitely take liberties with.”

And if the “Dark Shadows” film turns out to be a success, there’s a good chance it will spawn a franchise. “Obviously, it’s a movie that can continue,” said Sarkar, “because there were so many things going on in ‘Dark Shadows.’”

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton together—enough already or gimmie more? Who else would you like to see cast in the film?