Burton pic in turnaround as Col chairman balks

Columbia Pictures chairman Mark Canton has placed director Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” in turnaround, sources confirmed Wednesday. The pic was about a month away from filming.

Columbia’s decision to place the movie in turnaround comes after lengthy discussions over Burton’s assertion that the movie be shot in black-and-white.

Sources close to the project said Colpix agreed to shoot non-color if the filmmaker agreed to enter into a first-look arrangement with the studio. Burton rejected the option.

Studio sources at Paramount Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Universal Pictures confirmed that their studios are seriously considering taking over production.

A sticking point regarding black-and-white would be the film’s impact on ancillary rights. Studio output deals with cable companies often exclude black-and-white movies, and foreign television companies are equally reluctant to pony up the big bucks for such pictures.

“Ed Wood” is described as a quirky movie about the life of the cross-dressing , B-movie director Edward D. Wood Jr. (“Glenn or Glenda””Plan 9 From Outer Space”).

Reportedly budgeted at $ 18 million, film stars Johnny Depp, Christian Slater , Martin Landau, Bill Murray, Lisa Marie and Jeffrey Jones.

The decision to place “Ed Wood” in turnaround is one of Canton’s more surprising moves since taking the reins of the studio 18 months ago. Burton and Denise Di Novi are easily among the top director/producer teams in Hollywood, having previously delivered “Edward Scissorhands” and “Batman Returns.”

Some producers have criticized Canton for his reluctance to place projects in turnaround, which would free them up to take their projects elsewhere if the studio is not interested.

But his “Ed Wood” decision indicates that he may be loosening up as the potential franchise movies “Last Action Hero” and “In the Line of Fire” head toward a summer release.

In August, the studio announced a slate that featured two Burton projects: “Ed Wood” and “Mary Reily,” a dark, Gothic movie more reminiscent of Burton’s blockbuster “Batman.” Canton consistently favored the “Reily” script.

Canton’s “Ed Wood” decision will not affect on “Mary Reily,” according to Sony Pictures Entertainment sources. That’s because “Mary Reily” reverted from Columbia to sister studio TriStar and president of worldwide production Stacey Lassally, who has been involved with the project since its earliest days.

“Reily” is the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as told from the perspective of his young maid.

Di Novi and Burton had no comment, while attempts to reach Canton and president of worldwide production Michael Nathanson were unsuccessful. Columbia Pictures senior veepee of publicity Mark Gill had no comment.