Tim Burton is a visionary artist, animator, producer, writer, and director who specializes in dark, gothic stories with a comedic twist. Some of his most iconic movies are Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Mars Attacks! and Sweeney Todd. He are 40 facts about the master of ambience.
Tim Burton Facts
40. Once Upon A Time…
Timothy Walter Burton was born on August 25th, 1958. He grew up in Burbank, California.
39. Triple Feature
Burton said that, as a kid, he used to go to the Cornell Theater, where they would group two to three movies together for 50 cents. There, Burton would watch B-horror films like Scream Blacula Scream, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, and Godzilla.
38. Raised on Horror
Burton grew up on horror movies at an earlier age than most kids, and he has no memory of ever being scared of them, only fascinated.
37. Childhood Hero
As a kid, Burton often watched Roger Corman’s seminal horror movies, and they inspired his love of the macabre.
36. Red Fish, Blue Fish
Some of Burton’s favorite stories as a kid were written by Dr. Seuss. He says that he loves Seuss’s simple, lyrical voice.
35. The Funny Pages
Despite his talent for visuals and his work on Batman, Burton has said that, “Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book.”
34. Practice Makes Perfect
When he was a child, Burton began practicing stop motion animation using a Super 8 camera. He was inspired by Ray Harryhausen, who did stop-motion animation for monster films. Burton claims that if it was not for Harryhausen’s work, he probably would have never gotten into the art form at such a young age.
33. Learning the Ropes
All through his time in school, Burton’s art teachers encouraged him to pursue illustration; when he graduated from high school, he studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts.
Burton scored a job as a Disney animator but only worked for about a year. As he puts it, “Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?”
31. Ghoulish Holiday
In the 1980s, when he was still working for Disney, Burton wrote the poem “The Nightmare Before Christmas” after watching retail employees taking down Halloween decorations and getting ready for Christmas. This poem became the basis for his film of the same name.
30. RIP Sparky
In 1984, Disney released Burton’s black and white film Frankenweenie, where a young boy named Victor brings his dead dog back to life. The film was remade in 2012 as a stop-motion movie.
29. Just The Beginning
Burton directed his first feature-length film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, in 1985.
28. Easter Egg
In 1988, Burton directed Beetlejuice. The film contains a scene with an early version of what would become The Nightmare Before Christmas‘s Jack Skellington.
27. The World’s Greatest Detective
After directing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, Burton went on to direct Batman, which was darker than his previous films. Batman grossed over $100 million in its first 10 days.
26. Appetite for Destruction
In 1992, Burton made Batman Returns; the film made $47.7 million after a mere three days.
25. It’s Not Canon
Comic book fans were not happy with Burton’s Batman, which took major liberties with the source material: he had the Joker kill Bruce Wayne’s parents and let Vicky Vale enter the Batcave.
Burton was engaged to the actress Lisa Marie from 1992-2001, who was the inspiration for Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas. While they were together, Burton cast Lisa Marie in films such as Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, and Ed Wood.
23. Stranger Than Fiction
Despite his active imagination, Burton claims he never dreams—or at least he never remembers them.
Tim Burton brings art supplies with him everywhere he goes because he is always drawing his fantastic ideas. He has a lot of sketch books, but if he doesn’t have access to one, he will use tissues, napkins, and even walls to draw on.
21. Let it All Out
Burton claims that making films is like “an expensive form of therapy” for him.
20. Besties with the Baddies
After working with him in Batman, Burton said that Jack Nicholson was a brilliant actor, and a great choice for the Joker. Burton has also said that actors who play villains are often nicer people than the ones who play heroes.
19. Diving Into Fantasy
While making The Nightmare Before Christmas, the studio often had a hard time seeing Burton’s vision. For example, the studio argued with Burton over how it was possible for Jack Skellington to see without any eyeballs.
18. In His Shadow
Although Burton wrote and produced The Nightmare Before Christmas, he was too busy to direct the movie; the directing credit went Henry Selick.
17. True Artist
Burton isn’t very keen on technology, and would often rather be drawing than spending his time on the internet.
16. Probably For the Best
In the 1990s, Burton almost came out with a Superman movie starring Nicolas Cage. It never happened.
15. Planet of the Apes
Even though Burton doesn’t get scared very easily, he does have at least one phobia: chimpanzees.
14. Out of this World
In the early 90s, Burton bought the rights to a Topps trading card series, but was torn between calling it Dinosaurs Attack! or Mars Attacks! until Jurassic Park came out. Not wanting to do another dinosaur movie, he settled on directing 1996’s Mars Attacks!
13. In Vogue
Burton likes to dress all in black. Although this chimes with his dark sense of humor, Burton claims it’s because it makes it easier to match clothing when he gets dressed in the morning.
12. Sliding Doors
Burton was supposed to direct A Series of Unfortunate Events, with Johnny Depp playing Count Olaf. However, Burton left the project, taking Depp with him. Helena Bonham Carter, Burton’s girlfriend at the time, still played the children’s mother, Beatrice Baudelaire, but was never given credit for the small cameo. The movie was directed by Brad Silberling instead.
11. Silent Partners
Burton and Depp have worked on multiple films since 1990’s Edward Scissorhands. According to Burton, both he and Depp don’t like talking, and use a lot of nonverbal communication. At this point, they understand one another so well that other members of the crew have to ask and clarify what is going on.
10. No Thank You
In 2001, Disney approached Burton about doing a CGI sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Burton declined.
9. Sweet Tooth
Burton directed the 2001 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which, in classic Burton style, relies mostly on physical special effects rather than CGI, even in the fantastical chocolate factory.
8. Hidden Crossover
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie’s dad works for a toothpaste company called Smilex. In Burton’s 1989 Batman, “Smylex” was the name of the gas that The Joker spread.
7. Vintage Artwork
Burton owns original Margaret Keane paintings, and directed Big Eyes, a film about Keane, in 2014.
6. The Odd Couple
When Burton was dating Helena Bonham Carter, they lived in conjoined but separate houses in London in order to each have their own space.
5. Sons and Daughters
Burton and Bonham Carter had two children together, Billy and Nell Burton. Johnny Depp is Billy’s godfather.
4. On Stage
Burton’s Batman almost became a musical, and was intended to premiere sometime after 2005; it never got off the ground.
3. Second Chances
In 2017, it was announced that Beetlejuice will become a Broadway musical.
2. Too Sexy For Apes
Tim Burton’s remake of the Planet of the Apes (2001) script was censored because it featured a scene too sexy for the big screen: a controversial intimate scene where Mark Wahlberg and an apeish Helena Bonham Carter make love. Burton pushed for the human-simian coupling, but all that was left in the film was a kiss. According to a Fox insider, “Fox thought American audiences would recoil and that the movie would get an NC-17 rating. That would kill the movie for kids.”
1. Big Bucks
Directing films can be a seriously lucrative career: Burton has an estimated net worth of $113.3 million.