Visionary director Tim Burton’s latest movie, Alice in Wonderland, made over $113 million in its opening weekend. The 3D film from Walt Disney Pictures, which had a reported budget of $200 million, stars long-time Burton collaborator Johnny Depp and takes a very different take on Through the Looking Glass than previous filmed or videogame versions. The director also worked with Disney Interactive Studios on the new Wii and Nintendo DS games based on the movie. Burton talked about his new movie and the role 3D will play in Hollywood moving forward.
What attracted you to Alice in Wonderland?
It’s the hardcore realistic setting. I decided they wanted to finally make a real film.
It was always just a girl wondering around passively with a lot of weird characters. We tried to weave it into a story that has emotion to it and makes sense.
What technology are you employing for your take on Alice?
Every technique we can find. With the technology, there are lots of different ways to do things. We mixed things together to find our own way to do this (film), including pure animation and using the actors in mysterious ways. It looks like a freakshow.
What did the success of Coraline in 3D say to you?
I don't know, I think 3D in general is no longer like a gimmick. It's just more…it can be part of the fabric of the story. And just like getting something in color or black-and-white for cinema, you try to pick the right thing for the material. I think it's just another tool, another medium really, to tell stories.
What role do you see 3D playing in Hollywood?
Well, it's no longer a sort of fad as it used to be. I think technology's gotten to a place where it's much more easy on the eye. It doesn't give you a headache like it used to give you. It's just a much more pleasurable experience. And I think that it just -- I don't know, it just felt like this material…you like to try to pick the right medium with the material and it just seemed like the Alice in Wonderland material, the (3D) medium seemed appropriate for it.
Were you familiar with American McGee’s Alice videogame?
No, I wasn’t. I try to beware of games because they're such a part of the culture. But I don't play them. Pac-Man and Pong were my heyday.
How were you involved in the Disney Interactive Studios Alice in Wonderland videogame?
I see the guys (at Disney). They're working on something. And they're trying to…the problem is that they take longer to make videogames than it takes us to make a movie. So they’re actually ahead of us with the game in a way. [LAUGHTER]
Do you see videogames as a storytelling medium you might be interested in exploring?
No, I think it's definitely a good medium. Some of the videogames are better than a lot of movies. So I mean, it's something that's very much in the culture and I think is important and people really love it. What I'm trying to do with the Alice game is try to at least make it as representative of the film as we can make it.
How do you go about choosing what you're going to do?
Just different ways. Sometimes you're offered a project sometimes you seek a project. It's like in this particular case, I was asked if I wanted to do Alice. And with the talk of 3-D it sounded very interesting. So it just happens differently. Sometimes there are projects that you have inside that you want to do for years or something comes along where it's just very intriguing and very exciting. So it's always different.