Tim Burton held court Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, where he got a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement and unspooled an eight-minute sneak peek of his “Sweeney Todd” adaptation.
The clips, in sharp desaturated color, consisted largely of a key scene in the Stephen Sondheim musical in which Todd, played by Johnny Depp, is handed a razor case by Mrs. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter.
Singing “My Friends” Depp proved he can carry a tune, dueting delightfully with Bonham Carter, herself debuting as a chantoosie.
A white streak in his hair, a mad twinkle in his eye, Depp — in his sixth Burton pic — seemed in fine form in the quick sneak, which, while entertainingly eerie, displayed no violence. Pic is reportedly headed for an “R” rating.
“I am just trying to make an old-fashioned horror movie with music in it,” Burton said at the presser.
He added that pics with “people like Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre” are among vintage scary works he drew on for inspiration.
“It’s quite uncharted territory. I don’t think there are that many horror movie musicals out there these days,” Burton noted. “It will be interesting to see what happens with it.”
Paramount and DreamWorks have a lot riding on “Todd,” which they will rollout Stateside in December, just as Warner Bros. will be outing the pic worldwide.
As for his Lido prize — handed to him by Depp — Burton said it was “the best honor I’ve ever received.”
Asked about how the Venice Golden Lion compares to an Oscar — a nod that has eluded Burton so far — he joked: “It’s actually a lot better-looking than a bald naked man. It’s very special to me.”
Said Depp as he handed Burton the Lion: “Tim is a rare breed in today’s cinema: he is a true original, a true artist, a true auteur. He’s my favorite director and friend. So … let’s give him the thing, man.”
Concluding the gala evening was Disney’s 3-D version of “The Night Before Christmas,” which the studio is planning to re-release Stateside in October.