×

‘Dark Shadows’ ready for the light

Burton-directed pic stars Depp; newcomer Heathcote in talks

After years of trying to get “Dark Shadows” off the ground, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton are seeing their passion project finally near production.

Bella Heathcote, the up-and-coming Aussie thesp starring next year in David Chase’s first post- “Sopranos” feature “Twylight Zones,” is in early talks for the female lead opposite Depp in the Warner Bros. fantasy pic.

Dark Shadows” is based on the 1960s supernatural TV soap opera that followed the life of vampire Barnabas Collins, to be played by Depp. He’s forced to deal with all sorts of monsters, ghosts and other supernatural creatures. Heathcote would play a waitress whom Collins takes a shine to because of her resemblance to his long-lost love.

Seth Grahame-Smith has penned the script, and Depp, Graham King, Richard Zanuck, Christi Dembrowski and David Kennedy are producing. Production sked starts this spring for a 2012 release.

Warner Bros. acquired the rights from show creator Dan Curtis in 2007 and has been trying to get a movie going ever since.

Depp signed on early, but the writers strike derailed the project. Once it was resolved, Burton came on to direct and brought on John August to pen a first draft.

But August fell out, Burton and Depp’s busy schedules got in the way and the project continued to be pushed back. Then, last summer, “Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” author July Smith was brought aboard to rewrite the script.

If Heathcote gets locked in soon, a greenlight should follow, making a spring production start realistic.

Besides Chase’s “Twylight Zones,” Heathcote has also been cast opposite Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake in “Now.”

“Dark Shadows” has the potential to solve another problem for Warners: the need for a franchise to replace the “Harry Potter” series. Though “Green Lantern,” “Superman” and any number of DC Comics-centered pics are in the works, the studio is light on fantasy fare that can also appeal to female auds.

Though Burton and Depp haven’t talked of franchising “Dark Shadows,” there’s a trove of material for them to work with.

Besides her upcoming slate, Heathcote was most recently seen in the indie “Beneath Hill 60.”

She is repped by WME and Jackson-Medavoy Entertainment.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Spike Lee

    Spike Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Love Story 'Prince of Cats'

    Spike Lee will direct a big-screen version of the hip-hop love story “Prince of Cats,” based on Ron Wimberly’s graphic novel. Legendary has been developing the project with Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions. Lee, who won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” will also re-write the “Prince of Cats” script with [...]

  • DOLEMITE IS MY NAME!, 2019, DOL_Unit_06284.RAF

    'Dolemite Is My Name' Writer Larry Karaszewski Recalls 10-Year Journey to Make Rudy Ray Moore Biopic

    “Harriet” writer-director Kasi Lemmons was in a reflective mood at Tuesday night’s “Behind the Scene” event at the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America West. The biopic, starring Cynthia Erivo as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been receiving buzz since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s Lemmons’ [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Abrams Artists Agency Signs Writers Guild Deal

    In a major triumph for the Writers Guild of America, the Abrams Artists Agency has signed the WGA’s Code of Conduct, allowing the agency to return to representing WGA members again. Chairman Adam Bold made the announcement Wednesday, saying that the agency wants to put its clients back to work. He also noted WGA West [...]

  • Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

    Holocaust Experts Debate 'Jojo Rabbit' at Museum of Tolerance Screening

    With its comedic, cartoonish portrayal of Nazis, Taika Waititi’s satirical Hitler youth tale “Jojo Rabbit” has polarized critics and audiences alike. And that division continued to be stirred at Tuesday night’s screening of the film at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where Liebe Geft, director of the museum, moderated a heated panel discussion [...]

  • Mark Ruffalo stars as "Robert Bilott"

    Film Review: Todd Haynes' 'Dark Waters'

    What does a rabble-rousing, fight-the-power, ripped-from-the-headlines corporate-conspiracy whistleblower drama look like in the Trump era? It looks like Todd Haynes’ “Dark Waters” — which is to say, it looks very dark indeed. And also potent and gripping and necessary. The movie form I’m talking about is one we all know in our bones; you could [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content