Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ to open London fest

Animated pic premieres Oct. 10 as part of revamped fest

Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” will open the 56th BFI London Film Festival, the organizers are due to announce today.

The European premiere of the stop-motion animation film will take place Oct. 10 at the Odeon Leicester Square and will unspool simultaneously at the BFI London Imax and 30 screens across the U.K. in a first for the fest.

Burton, producer Allison Abbate, exec producer Don Hahn and English-language voice cast Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Landau are all expected to attend.

“‘Frankenweenie’ is a perfect choice of opener,” said fest director Clare Stewart. “It’s a film that revels in the magic of movies from one of cinema’s great visionaries. Tim Burton has chosen London as his home city and hundreds of talented British craftspeople have contributed to this production.”

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Fest will also host a free “Art of Frankenweenie” exhibition from Oct. 17-21, offering a glimpse into the stop-motion process, including Burton’s original sketches, props, sets and puppets.

“To present ‘The Art of Frankenweenie’ and to take our opening night out to 30 screens means we are making the festival even more accessible for film fans across the U.K.,” Stewart said.

It is the second time in recent years that the fest has chosen a stop-motion animation film for the opening gala slot after Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” in 2009.

The LFF sees a raft of changes this year under Stewart, who took over from Sandra Hebron who had been topper since 2003.

It will be shorter, running 12 days rather than 16, but it will increase the number of venues and screenings, especially primetime evening and weekend showings.

The fest’s awards are being re-worked by introducing three competitive sections: the official competition, first feature competition and documentary competition. Ten to 12 titles will be chosen for each section with a best film awarded in each.

The LFF program will group films into seven categories, such as love and debate, as opposed to British, world cinema etc., to encourage audience discovery.