Tim Burton on Leaving Batman: “I Think I Upset McDonalds. ‘We Can’t Sell Happy Meals with That!’”

Tim Burton on Leaving Batman: “I Think I Upset McDonalds. ‘We Can’t Sell Happy Meals with That!’”

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Legendary American director Tim Burton reveals why he didn’t complete the ‘Batman’ trilogy

Legendary American director Tim Burton reveals why he didn’t complete the ‘Batman’ trilogy.

During a recent video interview with Yahoo Movies, director Tim Burton spoke about his long career and a few of his favorite projects, including his 1989 film, Batman. The film was a critical and box office success, and led to Batman Returns in 1992. However, though Burton was originally slated to direct the full trilogy, he served only as producer on the final film, Batman Forever, during which time Michael Keaton left the titular role and was replaced by Val Kilmer.

In this week’s interview, Burton reveals why he left the trilogy despite the success of the previous two films:

“I think I upset McDonalds. [They asked] ‘What’s that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth. We can’t sell Happy Meals with that!’ It was a weird reaction to Batman Returns, because half the people thought it was lighter than the first one and half the people thought it was darker. I think the studio just thought it was too weird — they wanted to go with something more child- or family-friendly. In other words, they didn’t want me to do another one.”

15 Things You Never Knew About Tim Burton's Failed Third Batman Movie

If Tim Burton hadn't been replaced by Joel Schumacher, he might've made his best Batman movie ever. See just how good the canceled film could've been.

It’s been over 25 years since Batman Returns landed in theaters. Though Tim Burton has gone on to direct some of the most unique (and often bizarre) movies in Hollywood, it’s hard to forget how close he came to visiting Gotham for a third time.

After his surefooted introduction of the Caped Crusader in Batman, to his utterly insane sequel in Batman Returns, Tim Burton was primed for greatness on his third go around. As fate would have it, of course, Warner Bros. decided that Batman needed a new creative direction. Less interested in artistic integrity and more fascinated by the merchandising potential of DC Comics’ most popular character, Warner Bros. eschewed Burton's dark approach for the campy, child-friendly, toy-ready vision imagined by Joel Schumacher.

Though the studio made a killing with Batman Forever, they also killed the franchise. Left in the wake of the brutally bad puns and strained performances was a nostalgia for Tim Burton’s magic touch. He had all of the ingredients for an incredible final act: Robin Williams as The Riddler, Brad Dourif as Scarecrow, and Michael Keaton at the top of his game. We can only guess at the greatness of what might have been.

Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Tim Burton’s Failed Third Batman Movie.

Review: Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ feels too paint-by-numbers

Whether leaving his mark with the bizarre yet sweet sentimentality of “Edward Scissorhands” and “Beetlejuice,” the brilliant Oscar-nominated stop-motion animation of “Frankenweenie” and “Corpse Bride,” or the brashness of his “Batman” reboots, Tim Burton has always been one of film’s boldest visionaries. Except when it comes to women.

Unless they are of the brazen, animated variety, Burton’s female characters are generally less compelling than one might expect from the director whose unconventional imagination has delighted in countless wonderfully weird tales.

With flesh-and-blood “shes” center stage, he hesitates. As if they are too fragile, as if his outlandish ideas might be too imposing. Please, Miss, excuse my eccentricities if you will.

Burton’s latest film, “Big Eyes,” seemed like an ideal opportunity to break the pattern. Starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz as a codependent husband and wife so outré it’s doubtful even Burton could have dreamed them up, this seemed like a chance to avoid the rabbit hole that swallowed up his re-imagined “Alice in Wonderland,” wildly theatrical except for Mia Wasikowska’s Alice, more polite than petulant.

This film takes us into the off-kilter world of Margaret Keane (Adams), the artist whose big-eyed waifs became a ‘60s-era pop culture phenomenon. Her controlling spouse, Walter (Waltz), was an artist of a very different stripe, conning his wife into letting him take credit for her work, and suckering the world into believing it. Everywhere in the film are those Keane eyes — hugely dark, impossibly sad — framed on walls, showing in galleries, emerging, as we watch, on canvas in Margaret’s studio, behind closed doors, so no other eyes could see.

But this portrait of a woman on the verge — of success, of suppression, of submission, of rebellion — is never fully realized. For all of the turmoil around her, Margaret is too often stationed in front of a canvas in silent concentration. As was the case in the artist’s real life, her huckster husband, Walter, is allowed to hog the spotlight. Her daughter is drawn in intermittently for dramatic effect.

Perhaps some of the tiptoeing around Margaret, who is still alive and painting in real life, is due to Burton’s inability to shake the sense that those eyes were watching him. Or his habit of becoming enchanted with the ancillary characters — Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen in “Alice” or Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992’s “Batman Returns,” claws out and scintillating as Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

The script, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who brought such quirky energy and affection to the director’s biopic about that infamous B-movie director, “Ed Wood,” is as much a sketch of a 1950s middle-class marriage as one of an artist.

“Big Eyes” begins with Margaret’s escape from her first marriage — teary-eyed, gripping her daughter with one hand, the wheel of the car with the other. Soon she’s beginning a new life in the Bay Area, falling into Walter’s arms and under his spell. Though he purports to be an artist too — Paris street scenes his specialty — he’s more con man than painter. Yet as devious as Walter is, the film leaves you wondering if the success of the work would have been as massive without him.

Margaret’s view of a woman’s place comes from a different age, just before the rising feminist tide of the 1960s would sweep the nation. The conflict is tied to her growing resentment at being dismissed — as a woman and as an artist. Dominated by men, driven by her art, as she and Walter fight about the paintings, you hear the echoes of other husbands and wives arguing about the idea of equality.

The push and pull between them — Walter increasingly controlling, Margaret fearful enough to consider fleeing — turns the story dark, while the house they live in is sun-washed light. Always such a visual director, Burton plays with the contrasting textures and tones in interesting ways.

In one of the film’s most Burton-esque scenes, the couple ends up in court with Walter playing a dandy defending himself, running back and forth between the defense table and the witness stand. The judge finally orders both of them to paint for the jury. What unfolds is a comedy within the competition, the director capturing the surreal scene exactly right.

But mostly “Big Eyes” unfolds like so many film biographies, a bit too literal and linear — then this happens, then this.

The movie does come with all of the filmmaker’s polish, the era beautifully dressed, designed and shot by a first-class crew led by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, production designer Rich Heinrichs and an inspired Colleen Atwood, like Heinrichs, a frequent collaborator on Burton projects.

Adams is affecting in playing subservient, eyes uncertain, lips quivering. But somehow it still feels too safe, without the same emotional risks that characterize her work, a wide range including last year’s sexy, smart moll in “American Hustle” and handling that hot stove in “Julie & Julia” with Meryl Streep.

In contrast, Waltz takes Walter to extremes, quite irritating in his demanding entitlement, the smile plastered on. The sly sensibility the actor has brought to other florid characters — a Nazi colonel in “Inglourious Basterds,” a brazen bounty hunter in “Django Unchained” — is shelved.

Both Adams and Waltz received Golden Globe nominations for their efforts, but were bypassed by the Screen Actors Guild.

Suburban America in the late 1950s and early ‘60s is a period Burton is fond of nosing around in. In teasing out all the nuances of Margaret’s situation, the director channels the conformity better than the ambition and need that drive her.

In that sense, “Big Eyes” is Burton’s most down-to-earth work yet, as conventional as the times. Not nearly as unorthodox as its subject, or the director himself.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language


On Dec. 25, Tim Burton will release Big Eyes, a period dramedy about the bizarre, true-life story of Walter and Margaret Keane, the couple behind those famously kitschy paintings of doe-eyed little kids that became a sensation in the 1960s.

The film — which stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz — will mark the 17th feature film that Burton has directed in a storied career that now stretches over 30 years.

Burton has always been an unusual filmmaker, a semi-eccentric visionary who makes films about outsiders from within the Hollywood studio system.

He spoke with Yahoo Movies about his career and some of his most famous films, including Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas'''.

Check out the highlights in the video above and some more thoughts from Burton below:

On why Michael Keaton seemed crazy enough for 1989’s Batman:
"It got a lot of criticism for being too dark, and there was a lot of criticism for casting Michael Keaton. They thought it was going to be a comedy or whatever, but it felt very special. We met these big tough guys, but what it came down was that, you look at someone like Michael and you think, ‘Here’s a guy you can see dressing up like a bat.’ He’s got the eyes and the kind of crazy quality and the kind of internal life, but he’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, here’s somebody who needed to create a persona to frighten people and intimidate people, and Michael just seemed like the perfect person to be that. The studio was quite supportive. Thank God, the Internet wasn’t as big then, because we would have been really murdered. But even without the Internet, there was a lot of negativity and alarm.”

On walking away from Gotham City following 1992’s sequel, Batman Returns:

”I think I upset McDonalds. [They asked] ‘What’s that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth. We can’t sell Happy Meals with that!’ It was a weird reaction to Batman Returns, because half the people thought it was lighter than the first one and half the people thought it was darker. I think the studio just thought it was too weird — they wanted to go with something more child- or family- friendly. In other words, they didn’t want me to do another one.”

On the difficulty of making Edward Scissorhands even after becoming an A-list director:

After Beetlejuice and Pee-wee and Batman [were] successful, I thought I could do whatever I wanted. That’s when I learned every movie is difficult to get made. Even after Batman, presenting a story about a guy with scissor hands — they weren’t the most enthusiastic.

But that was a special movie for me because it was feelings, not autobiographical, but the sense of feeling that way as a teenager. It was very representative and symbolic of a lot of feelings that I had.

On the “bizarre” production of the stop-motion animated The Nightmare Before Christmas, which Disney released under its more adult-oriented Touchstone banner to an eventual $75 million box office:

"It was weird because at the time, it was something I’d never heard in my life: They weren’t going to put a trailer up for it. Even horrible movies you have trailers for. That was a bizarre thing. They basically [made] it because I had designed it [at Disney] many years ago, and I said, ‘You guys don’t really want to do this, let me take it elsewhere.’ And rather than let it go elsewhere, they let it happen. It didn’t cost a lot. But as we were going on, they didn’t know what it was. It was a strange movie that got more successful later and later."

And how The Nightmare Before Christmas has become the unofficial movie of emo teenagers:

"I’ve seen people that have amazing tattoos. That to me is the most amazing thing, better than any review, better than any box office, better than anything, when it connects with people so deeply."

On whether he’s been to Hot Topic, where Nightmare Before Christmas gear is still the rage.

On whether he’d go back and change things in his movies:

"No, I know some people update the special effects in movies or whatever, but I always think it’s a bit of a time capsule. It’s like plastic surgery — I’d rather see people’s wrinkles and warts, than see something that’s been glossed over."

On his unproduced Superman movie that was to star Nicolas Cage:

"We were going the same route in terms of exploring [the Superman story] on a more human level and a more emotionally grounded level. And it’s quite devastating when you’re working on a project for that long period of time, and it doesn’t happen."

On computer-generated versus practical special effects:

"I try to use it as a tool to achieve whatever you need to achieve. As an animator, for instance, on Alice in Wonderland, at the time I wasn’t a big fan of motion capture, so a lot of that we went pure animation, just because I felt it had better timing. You use whatever medium for whatever the project is and try to treat it like a character. If it’s a practical effect, it’s always fun to do because it connects the actors and the crew to what you’re doing instead of being in this void of room with a green screen.”

On his public persona:
"I’m not a dark person. My films are quite light, I find. Especially the way they are now, mine look like a light-hearted romp."

Bye bye Batman: should Ben Affleck bow out as the caped crusader?

If there is a “Batman curse” affecting those who have pulled on the cape and cowl on the big screen, it is not always a lasting one. George Clooney recovered from portraying a detested version of Gotham’s dark knight for Joel Schumacher in 1997’s Batman & Robin to become one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors and film-makers. Christian Bale is rarely out of the awards season spotlight for long, and Michael Keaton is currently experiencing a gilded career revival that has even seen him return to superhero movies.

It would be fair to say, however, that the role can be something of a poisoned chalice. Clooney was perhaps fortunate to recover from the critical drubbing handed to Schumacher’s film (his co-star Chris O’Donnell never really did) and Val Kilmer’s career certainly hit the skids after he took the lead role in 1995’s Batman Forever. Both actors were unfortunate to have been cast as Batman while Warner Bros encouraged Schumacher to indulge his penchant for kitsch and camp as a reaction to Tim Burton’s gothic take on the caped crusader in 1989’s Batman and 1992 sequel Batman Returns.

Current dark knight Ben Affleck must also attract sympathy, having signed on the dotted line at a time when Warner seems confused as to how to portray Batman on the big screen. One minute, he is the angry gun-toting lead of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the next he’s both cracking smarts and showing remorse for his earlier mistakes in the current Justice League.

Watch the trailer for Justice League - video

Nobody quite knows which Batman will turn up in Matt Reeves’ upcoming solo outing for the caped crusader, The Batman, but it’s looking increasingly likely that it might be portrayed by somebody other than Affleck. Interviewed by USA Today in the run up to Justice League’s release, the Oscar-winner refused to confirm his commitment to the project he was once in line to direct, saying merely that it remains “something I’m contemplating”. Perhaps more worryingly for Warner, Affleck hinted that the film might represent an endgame for his brief sojourn in the cape and cowl, adding: “You don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of [the role].”

Appearing as Batman in three movies in two years (Dawn of Justice, that misjudged Suicide Squad cameo and Justice League) would once have been considered plenty. But we live in an era in which Robert Downey Jr has portrayed Iron Man a staggering eight times in the last nine years (including cameos) and has at least two more appearances to go in the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel. Moreover, if Affleck quits now, his stint as the caped crusader will be considered an abject failure, doomed to be remembered alongside Clooney’s single Batnippled turn in “worst Batman” lists from now until the end of time.

With Warner’s DCEU movies performing well at the box office, it always seemed likely that studio execs would persevere with Affleck until they stumbled on a formula designed to get the best out of him. Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, despite all the critical brickbats, did well enough financially to leave this latest superhero cinematic universe with the chance to fight another day. But Justice League, despite marginally more positive reviews than its predecessors, now looks likely to be the weakest-performing episode yet.

There are rumours that Jake Gyllenhaal, who was once considered by Warner for the film that eventually became Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, is being lined up to replace Affleck. This doesn’t quite solve the problem of how Reeves’ supposedly noir-tinged take on the caped crusader is supposed to sync with Justice League’s bombastic epic of CGI and Marvel-style inter-superhero wisecracking. But the move would give the War for the Planet of the Apes director the chance to kick off a new Batman era with a fresh face.

Part of the problem with the entire Batfleck fandango is that it is hard to imagine this new Batman as distinct from the famous actor who plays him. When Bruce Wayne makes sexist comments towards Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in Dawn of Justice, we are reminded of Affleck’s jockish display more than a decade ago during publicity for the movie Jersey Girl. When Batman spends most of his time saying sorry for his part in the death of Superman in Justice League, it feels like he is apologising for Dawn of Justice’s failure to pass muster. Audiences want to see Affleck fully invested in the role and knocking his performance out of the park reminding us why we love the caped crusader in the first place. Instead we get an actor who seems like he would rather be just about anywhere else.

Would Gyllenhaal be any better? Certainly, this is an actor who has proven time after time that he can disappear into roles, and he seems a better fit for Reeves’ mooted new trilogy, with its reported emphasis on Batman’s famous detective skills (as opposed to the colossally framed, gun-toting, ultra-violent Batfleck of Dawn of Justice).

The current incumbent might not get his wish to leave the DCEU on a high. But judging from his undercooked performance in Justice League, Affleck would be unlikely to complain too heavily about an enforced departure. It could well be in everyone’s interests to let this ham-fisted, bully boy dark knight finally do something in keeping with the superhero’s traditional penchant for shadowy understatement, and just slip off gently into the Gotham night, never to be seen again.

These Recent Superhero Moments Are So Sexist You Won't Believe They Were Made in the Last 5 Years

Minus literally everything Donald Trump has ever said, the past few years have arguably been great for feminism. And pop culture, at least for the most part, has responded by bringing us a new class of interesting, diverse female leads. But sexism isn't the Berlin Wall. You can't tear it down with sledgehammers and call it a day. Sexism can be sneaky. It can be subtle. It can creep into even the most awesome and well-meaning films. The superhero genre in particular is making great progress&mdashuh, hello, Wonder Woman!&mdashbut we've still got a ways to go. Here are six examples of Hollywood getting it all wrong.

The Period Reference in 'Batman: The Killing Joke'

The Scene: For those not in the know, The Killing Joke is one of the seminal Batman stories, in which The Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and paralyzes his daughter Barbara&mdashAKA Batgirl. When the animated film hit theaters in July 2016, a thirty-minute prologue was added to the story. The prologue follows Batgirl on an average night of crime-fighting, and&mdashas one of the criminals she's pursuing makes increasingly-sexist comments&mdashculminates in a quip about how it must be "that time of the month." Batgirl then beats said criminal to near-death.

Why It's Sexist: There's nothing wrong with trying to give the only female character in your story a bit more agency, but it's clear that the filmmakers don't care about any real challenges Batgirl has as a female crime-fighter. They're just poorly attempting to pander to women in the audience by showing a "strong" female character punching men. This is a very old, very stupid definition of "girl power" that was just as gross twenty years ago as it is today.

Catwoman's Framing in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

The Scene: In Christopher Nolan's wicked awesome Dark Knight Trilogy, Catwoman is a slinky, sexy woman living in near-poverty with another female. She teams up with Bane to take down Batman, before realizing that&mdashgasp!&mdashBatman is that insufferable yet attractive billionaire she robbed, Bruce Wayne!

Why It's Sexist: Admittedly, there are a few things the Nolan brothers got right when writing Catwoman. In one scene, she pretends to be in hysterics to evade the police because she knows the cops will ignore an emotional woman. She's aware of the sexism around her and uses it to her advantage&mdashand I like that. But at the end of the day, she's yet another female character fighting in ridiculous stilettos, contributing next-to-nothing to the plot, and filmed at angles that unnecessarily focus on her leather-clad butt. If you want to see a movie that balances Catwoman's complexity and sex appeal, go check out Tim Burton's Batman Returns.

The Hulk Saving Black Widow in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

The Scene: A lot of people take issue with the scene in which Black Widow tells The Hulk about her forced sterilization. But clumsy at it was, it was well-intentioned and expressed the complexity of Black Widow's emotions in that moment. The scene that really ruffled my feathers comes later in the film, when Black Widow is kidnapped out of nowhere, and quickly discovers a way to call for help so she can be rescued by her love interest, The Hulk.

Why It's Sexist: This cul-de-sac in the plot has no point&mdashremove it and nothing in the story changes. The only reason it's there is because Black Widow's the only woman on the team, and we're used to seeing women saved by men. Add to this the unnecessary love story (plus the fact that her character does nothing to further the plot), and we're left with a completely different character than the Black Widow who kicked so much butt in The Avengers Assemble.

Starlord Saving Gamora in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

The Scene: Gamora is the favorite daughter of Thanos, and one of the most intimidating beings in the Marvel universe. She's said to be a killing machine, and we even see some of her skills used while fighting Starlord. But then the gang gets arrested and sent to prison, and in the middle of the night, Starlord notices that some thugs have captured Gamora. He saves her life, and their witty banter/sexual chemistry begins in earnest.

Why It's Sexist: Let me say it again: Gamora is supposedly one of the most dangerous people in the galaxy. Why, then, is she suddenly unable to defend herself against some random space thugs? Because she's the one woman on the team, and so&mdashby Hollywood logic&mdashshe has to be in a relationship with the main character, and therefore be weaker than him. The best way to get her to fall in love with Starlord and establish his strength? Have him save her, even if it makes no sense. In that one scene, Gamora goes from holding her own on the team (and contributing to the plot) to becoming 'the chick' of the group for the rest of the film.

The Harley Quinn/Joker Romance in 'Suicide Squad'

The Scene: A significant portion of this film is devoted to Harley's backstory&mdashhow she was manipulated and seduced by her psychiatric patient The Joker. She has been his adoring and obedient henchwoman ever since.

Why It's Sexist: The Joker-Harley relationship has always been twisted and abusive, and that's why it's so heartbreaking and fascinating. In the comics, Harley's shown to have a lot of doubts about her relationship&mdashleaving and returning again and again. It's a realistic if disturbing look at why women stay with horrible partners. However, in the film Harley isn't shown to have any doubts&mdashshe loves The Joker no matter what he does. And that's just gross.

Mystique Becoming An Extremist Because a Boy Thinks She's Ugly in 'X-Men: First Class'

The Scene: Mystique's been dealing with body-image issues since childhood (who can blame her, she's blue!), but her feelings of alienation come to a head when a boy she likes (AKA Beast) tells her that all unusual-looking mutants are ugly. She then falls into the arms of Magneto, who loves the way she looks. With this positive affirmation, Mystique's suddenly more sympathetic to Magneto's political views, and joins his extremist group.

Why It's Sexist: You're kidding, right.

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FILM Look, Ma, No Hands, or Tim Burton's Latest Feat

''This is the most uncomfortable I've ever been in a movie,'' said the actor Johnny Depp between puffs on a cigarette proferred by an assistant on a makeshift roach clip. Mr. Depp was clad in skintight black leather from Adam's apple to toes. His hair was a mass of black tangles, and his face was made up like a mime's, except that it was covered with prosthetic scars. Most startling of all were the sets of lethal-looking blades where his hands should have been.

Mr. Depp was decked out as the title character in Tim Burton's new movie, '⟭ward Scissorhands,'' which was filmed this summer and is scheduled for a late fall release. ''I'm strapped and buckled into this,' he said of his clothing and the rig on his hands. ''I feel like I'm in an old sailor's trunk, no way to get out of it.''

Last year at this time another film directed by Mr. Burton, '➺tman,'' was well on its way to becoming the most successful movie in Hollywood history. The 31-year-old director was presented the keys to the kingdom.

''I got the chance to do what I want to do completely,'' he said. '⟭ward Scissorhands'' is an idiosyncratic little fable that he hopes will ''update what fairy tales were meant to do.'' And though he relished the freedom to make such a personal project, he felt a certain amount of pressure, too - not to make another blockbuster, he said, but to make a film worthy of the memories, dreams and feelings that went into it.

''The thing that makes me nervous is that there's just more meaning to this than anything else I've ever done before,'' Mr. Burton said. ''I've never had the opportunity to express how I feel completely before. This is an image that I identify with.''

The story of '⟭ward Scissorhands,'' though no stranger than those of Mr. Burton's previous feature films - ''Pee-Wee's Big Adventure,'' '𧯮tlejuice'' and '➺tman'' - is strange indeed. Edward (Mr. Depp) was created by the Inventor (played by Vincent Price, who off the set happens to be Mr. Burton's muse), who lives in a mysterious mansion on a hill overlooking a generic pastel suburb. The Inventor always meant to replace Edward's blades with real hands, but dies before that happens, so Edward must cope with his dangerous mitts. He lives alone in the mansion until one day the Avon Lady (Dianne Wiest) decides to make a call on the eerie old place.

There she discovers Edward, whom she persuades to come back with her to the town. At first the neighborhood embraces Edward, but when he falls in love with the Avon Lady's beautiful daughter (Winona Ryder), the novelty begins to wear off. After Edward is tricked into abetting a crime, he is forced to flee the town.

''I grew up liking the idea of fairy tales, but I could never really relate to them, you know,'' Mr. Burton explained. 'ɺnd then I started thinking, if you were around at the time that 'Little Red Riding Hood' was written, it would probably make complete sense. Hopefully, with 'Scissorhands,' they will get the same sort of magic and feel out of it, but also relate to it a bit better.''

Mr. Burton surrounded himself with collaborators who shared his quirky vision, from actors to producer to screenwriter to production designer. ''The script was funny,'' Mr. Burton said. ''Of the people who read it, either they didn't get it, or they loved it. And I was very lucky to get people who loved it.'' There was harmony on the set. Ms. Ryder described the group as being ''people who are on the exact same wavelength, thinking the exact same thoughts.''

Cast and crew spent 12 weeks filming in Florida, where they found, in the words of the production designer Bo Welch, 'ɺ kind of generic, plain-wrap suburb, which we made even more characterless by painting all the houses in faded pastels, and reducing the window sizes to make it look a little more paranoid.'' The production then relocated to a set in Los Angeles, where Mr. Welch and his crew created shadowy medieval-looking interiors for the mansion scenes.

On one day it was 110 degrees, but Mr. Burton was wearing a rumpled jacket over his black pants and long-sleeved shirt. He was about to film the scene in which Ms. Wiest comes upon Edward in his lair.

''Johnny, give me a little blade action,'' Mr. Burton instructed, and Mr. Depp twisted his wrists so that light glittered from his ''hands.'' He was crouched in a corner of the attic, where Ms. Wiest, in a lavender suit and pillbox hat, discovered him. At first she was frightened, but then her maternal instincts took over, especially when she saw the scars Edward has inadvertently inflicted on himself.

''They sent me a script a year ago, and I thought it was very strange and wonderful,'' Ms. Wiest said. ''I hadn't seen any of Tim's movies, but I went out and saw ➺tman' immediately. I was as taken with the man as I was with his work.''

Later that day, Mr. Depp, the 24-year-old star of the now-canceled TV series '✡ Jump Street'' and the John Waters film 'ɼrybaby,'' exchanged one pair of scissor hands for another in preparation for the next scene. ''The script was one of the two or three best things I've ever read,'' he said. He walked over to where Mr. Burton stood with Vincent Price on a set filled with giant gears and pulleys and a biomorphic assembly line that's reminiscent of Chaplin's ''Modern Times.''

Though it looked more like a widget factory, it was the kitchen of the mansion. The scene they were about to film was one in which the Inventor starts to present Edward with real hands to replace his blades, but dies before he actually attaches them, thus sealing Scissorhands's fate: to never be able to touch people without the possibility of hurting them.

Mr. Burton called '➬tion,'' and the scene went smoothly until the end, when Edward had to gently draw a blade across his dead creator's cheek, leaving a faint trail of blood. The director found it difficult to capture this effect on camera, and the actors went through a great many takes.

Mr. Price's role in the movie, though little more than a cameo, was something of a talisman for Mr. Burton. ''It's hard for me to describe it, but it really helped me growing up just by watching him,'' he said. ''It was more than just a fan thing it's very deep for me.''

In fact, aspects of ''Scissorhands'' can be found in Mr. Burton's earliest film, ''Vincent,'' a five-minute animated work narrated by Mr. Price, about a little boy (unmistakably modeled after Mr. Burton) who has a fantasy life that Poe would envy.

Caroline Thompson, the ''Scissorhands'' screenwriter, said that when she saw the Price short, she knew that she and Mr. Burton '⟊red about the same things and had the same feelings.'' So in tune were they, in fact, that Ms. Thompson wrote '⟭ward Scissorhands'' in three weeks after Mr. Burton showed her a drawing he had done of the character. ''The image just struck me so hard. Tim showed me the drawing and said, 'There's this character that I think about called Edward Scissorhands.' That's all he said. The minute he told me that, we started to talk about it, and the entire story was clear to me.''

FILM ➺tman' Battles for Big Money

Holy oblivious to the mist falling about his gentian fedora, Jack Nicholson presses an orange bullhorn to his mouth - a permanent leer of red in a whiteface mask - and begins his ascent to the helicopter.

''Roll camera!'' rumbles up from the crew huddled in the rain, breathing steam into the damp English night. 'ɺnd . . . action!''

There is the sudden flaring of klieg lights, the deafening whirr of propeller blades and Mr. Nicholson hitting his mark - dangling from the copter and bellowing his lines with all the wild-eyed mania of Daryl Van Horne in ''The Witches of Eastwick'' or the mad ravings of Jack Torrance in ''The Shining.''

Luridly etched in purple and white against the velvet night, Mr. Nicholson is none other than The Joker - that comic book clown prince of crime and the keystone of the upcoming film '➺tman.'' More than a decade in the works, now slated for release this June to coincide with the 50th anniversary of DC's best-selling comic book hero, '➺tman'' the movie has been until recently shrouded in secrecy, ballyhooed in superlatives and plagued by controversy.

At $30 million-plus and top-heavy with stars, the decidedly new-wave '➺tman'' is the biggest Warner Brothers film of 1989. A departure from the campy 1960's television series, the film is a blockbuster gamble along the lines of last year's ''Who Framed Roger Rabbit'' and a much-needed prospective hit in a summer crowded with competitors. '➺tman,'' which, in addition to Mr. Nicholson, features Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance and Jerry Hall, will go head to head with ''Ghostbusters II,'' ''Lethal Weapon II,'' ''Star Trek V'' and a second trip '𧮬k to the Future.''

Yet even before shooting began at London's Pinewood Studios last fall, '➺tman'' generated more anger than anticipation among the comic book hero's fans - the hard-core audience for any film such as this. In a massive letter-writing campaign, objections were raised over the studio's emphasis on this high-concept Batman and the refusal to make a serious square-jawed film out of one of the most popular - and psychologically complex - comic book characters.

The controversy, which erupted in the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and numerous trade publications, focused on the casting of Mr. Keaton, best known as the anarchic prankster in last year's comedy hit '𧯮tlejuice,'' as the vengeful vigilante, and the choice of Tim Burton, the '𧯮tlejuice'' creator and former Disney animator, as the film's director. The suspicion voiced by hundreds of angry fans was that '➺tman'' would be a campy send-up similar to the self-parodying but hugely popular 1960's television series.

''Most people think of the TV show when they think of Batman,'' says Maggie Thompson, co-editor of ''The Comic Buyer's Guide,'' the industry bible. 'ɻut that was a series Batman fans saw as ridiculing the art form. The discrepancy between the fan's idea and the average guy's image of Batman is a real problem for Warners. This is like the 'Star Trek' movies. You have to win the fans to insure the film's success.''

Messing with the myth of Batman (in the blockbuster film and in the hundreds of forthcoming licensed materials) has become a delicate and high-stakes public relations act that has had Warners executives running to appease fans at home (including the hiring of Batman's creator, the cartoonist Bob Kane, as the film's consultant) while babysitting the 16-week shoot in London. The Warners executives Terry Semel and Mark Canton and the producer Jon Peters spent weeks pacing the Gotham City set sidelines. (So intense was the interest among the local Fleet Street press that The Daily Mail flew a helicopter reconnaisance mission over the five-block-long set, the biggest since 'ɼleopatra,'' while the competing Sun sneaked in a reporter for an unauthorized ''Holy Scoop, Batman!'' photo spread.) 'ɺ picture this size needs a lot of help,'' says Mr. Peters, during one of the film's final weeks of shooting. ''I'm at risk with Michael [ Keaton ] and Tim [ Burton ] . The image of Batman is a big male model type, but I wanted a guy who's a real person who happens to put on this weird armor. A guy who's funny and scary. Keaton's both. He's got that explosive, insane side.'' Mr. Peters is sitting in the smoke- - or, rather, incense-filled - Studio C on Pinewood's back lot, the site of the film's pivotal cathedral scene. It is the second-to-last day of shooting for Mr. Nicholson, a final sequence in which The Joker is whisked from the cathedral's Gaudi-esque aerie via that helicopter, leaving Batman and Vicki Vale (Ms. Basinger), the film's love interest, to dangle on the proverbial precipice (there is no Robin in the film). While Mr. Keaton, Ms. Basinger and Mr. Nicholson are coached through their acrobatics by Mr. Burton and a clutch of stuntmen, Mr. Peters and crew stand on the sidelines wearing surgical masks as protection against the cough-inducing smoke. The set, hazy and full of long shadows, is evocative of a church vestry, albeit one punctuated by laughter whenever Mr. Nicholson recites his line - a snarled ''What are you laughing at?'' - at one of the cathedral's dour-faced gargoyles.

''I never liked the Batman TV series,'' says Mr. Peters, sliding the mask from his mouth while keeping his eyes on Mr. Nicholson. ''I wanted to do a real aggressive picture, and it wasn't until we got Sam Hamm's script that we found the rough, dark edge we wanted. There's lots of peril in this film and humor, but it's not 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' or 'Ghostbusters.' ''

What exactly '➺tman'' will be is, ah, somewhat shrouded in mystery. The cast has been under wraps for almost the entire shoot, and Mr. Nicholson, who prefers feinting layup shots to speaking to anyone not directly connected with the film, has even refused to participate in the studio-sanctioned documentary ''The Making of Batman.'' Mr. Keaton and Ms. Basinger are only slightly less reluctant.

''I'm just along for the ride on this one,' says Ms. Basinger, shaking the smoke from her blond mane and settling on a dolly during a break. When pressed, she concedes, '➺tman is a legend, not just a cartoon. And the film is emphasizing that wonderful psychological story of three people who, I guess, live in all of us. It's a real visual movie, but Tim Burton has been real good at getting us to decide together where to go in scenes. We've all gotten to do a lot with our roles.''

Mr. Keaton, an affable and unassuming performer who hides behind the sports section during filming breaks, turns terse when asked about '➺tman'' and the controversy over his being cast in the title role. ''You know, Jack's role of The Joker is much more similar to what I did in 𧯮tlejuice,' '' he says, finally. ''That role was so over the top that I just whaled on it. This is different. I keep referring to the film as a painting - Tim calls it a puzzle. I'm just sort of throwing up my hands, saying, 'Paint me in, Big Guy.' ''

Indeed, if there is any common denominator to the cast and crew's perception of the film, it is a disavowal of the original Adam West 'ɺs millionaire Bruce Wayne'' television series and the short-lived 1966 film version, which also starred Cesar Romero as The Joker. It runs like a refrain through Mr. Peters's recounting the film's typically Hollywood history, a narrative that spans a decade and includes at least three earlier scripts, as many potential directors, a hiatus due to the writers' strike, a mention of Bill Murray (''Yeah, yeah, it would have a real different picture but still not like the TV show'') until the final troika - Burton-Keaton-Nicholson - was ensconced.

''I went to the mat for Tim and Michael, but it took a while to get Jack Nicholson,'' says Mr. Peters, who also produced ''The Witches of Eastwick.'' ''We had him over here, walked him around the sets, explained the makeup [ three prosthetic devices and a two-hour application procedure ] . But from the start he was attracted to The Joker. It's a tough role in a really good story.''

For Mr. Burton, whom Mr. Peters describes as 'ɺ brilliant, eclectic visual talent,'' the nub of that story is found, again, not in the POW! BAM! television series, but in the richly nuanced original 1940's Bob Kane strip and in such recent D.C narratives as last year's ''Killing Joke,'' which portrayed The Joker as Batman's doppelganger. ''I wanted to take the comic book material and make it real,'' says the director, a whispery-voiced, Tiny Tim look-alike, during a break in the morning's shooting. ''That's the great thing about these characters they're not superheroes like Superman. They're real people. And this new generation of comic books really explores the psychology and complexities of the characters. It's not just how square the guy's jaw is.''

It is a somewhat unusual approach by the director whose previous work (''Pee-Wee's Big Adventure'' and '𧯮tlejuice'') lent him a Hollywood reputation - not as an actor's director (''I never had to speak as an animator, just show my drawings'') - but as a master creator of artificial visual realities. Mr. Burton, who studied at the California Institute of Art prior to working at Disney, likes to manipulate the look of a film until it becomes a physical extension of the protagonist. ''I always love it when the sets are a character and not just the set,'' says Mr. Burton, who prefers directing from a video monitor.

''Tim has an obsession with the 1950's kitsch. He's brilliant at making the believable, or creating a super-realism,'' says the script writer Sam Hamm later, during a telephone interview from his home in San Francisco. ''That's where a lot of the humor of ➺tman' comes from, playing these inescapably outrageous situations as very deadpan.''

The film began as an urban reworking of ''Mad Max,'' according to Mr. Hamm, who shares screenwriting credit with Warren Skaaren ('➾verly Hills Cop II''). ''Somebody who's larger than life and a little frightening.'' Eventually that point of view gave way to a simple reworking of some of the original Batman myths with ''the premise being, here's a millionaire who can have anything he wants, and what he wants is to get dressed up and scare people,'' says Mr. Hamm, whose sole previous credit is ''Never Cry Wolf.'' ''There is a 'Rosebud' to his character, and it erupts as ➺tman.' That is the psychological thrust of the plot.''

That plot is a fusion of fantasy and reality, humor and derring-do, but whose fulcrum is always the symbiotic relationship between The Joker and Batman - a polarity mirrored in the film's design. Indeed, early footage, including the 90-second trailer currently being shown in selected theaters, shows a deeply shadowed, menacing Gotham City, lit very much like ''The Godfather.'' That is until Nicholson's white-faced Joker leaps out of the frame, a riot of purple, aqua, orange and that trademark green hair.

''We're going with tonal separation, lighting it as if it were black and white but shooting in color,'' says the cinematographer, Roger Pratt, whose previous work includes the films 'ɻrazil'' and ''Mona Lisa.'' 'ɺnd we're using a Kodak film stock that enables us to shoot in very low light while retaining bright effects. But the key is using sets of a single tone against which the Joker just pops out.''

Indeed, a stroll through the five-block Gotham City, a massive but surprisingly unremarkable cityscape of shops and cafes and 'ɽon't Even Think of Parking Here'' signs, doesn't reveal this broad-stroke character until one reaches Gotham Square, a depressing urban canyon evocative of Fritz Lang's ''Metropolis.''

''The idea for Gotham City was to take the worst aspects of New York City, go back 200 years and imagine if there was no planning commission,'' explains the production designer, Anton Furst, with a laugh. Mr. Furst, who was the creator of that flat, menacing Vietnam of Stanley Kubrick's 'ɿull Metal Jacket,'' says much of his inspiration for '➺tman'' came from Orson Welles's film 'ɼhimes at Midnight.'' ''There's fascism and German Expressionsim and a sort of general industrial mix to these buildings,'' he adds. ''The result is timelessness that runs from the 40's to the future. And the humor comes from taking the brutalism to the limit.''

Even the Batmobile, sequestered on this day in the lacquered confines of the Batcave, a dark subterranean lair that is hardly the cheery high-tech laboratory of the television series, is wittily derivative. Twenty feet long with an eight-and-a-half-foot wheelbase and fins to put a ❗ Chevy to shame, it is a Corvette on steroids.

As for Mr. Keaton's bat costume, Bob Ringwood's sculpted latex design required 20 bodies, 25 different cape ''looks'' and 6 different heads. Mr. Keaton, who describes the outfit as incredibly uncomfortable to wear (the cape is literally bolted to the actor's rubber bodysuit), sweats through two Batsuits a day. ''I'm knocked out by the sets and the stunts in this film,'' he says later, dressed in full Batman regalia right down to the dried blood on his lip. The actor has taken a moment - in a burst of Bruce Wayne politesse - to leap from the set in order to brief a visitor on some directorial nuances on the scene. ''Michael!'' comes the call from Mr. Burton somewhere in the haze. ''Oh, pardon me,'' says Mr. Keaton. And with a flourish of black rubber, Batman slips back into the shadows.

Review/Film And So Handy Around The Garden

AT the far end of a suburban enclave, where the houses huddle together like a candy-colored wagon train, there stands a monument to lonely genius. Atop a forbidding gray mountain, in yet another of the strange and ingenious outposts that the heroes of Tim Burton's films ("Batman," "Beetlejuice," "Pee-wee's Big Adventure") call home, Edward Scissorhands lives in isolation. He uses his extraordinary gifts to create magical artworks that, he imagines, no one will ever see.

Edward has apparently hidden here for a long time, with nary a trip to the grocery store. But one day, as seems perfectly reasonable in the ripe, fanciful pop universe in which "Edward Scissorhands" unfolds, a thoughtful Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) pays a visit. Seeing Edward, she immediately grasps that he has a problem and sweetly imagines that it can be solved with kindness, not to mention the makeup base of exactly the right hue. So the Avon lady brings the outcast back to her home, where he amazes the neighbors with his rare feats of snippery. He's a wizard when it comes to poodles.

In a sense, Mr. Burton is too. His "Edward Scissorhands" is as crazily single-minded as a majestic feat of dog barbering, with much the same boldness, camp ebullience and fundamentally narrow wit. Like a great chef concocting an exquisite peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, Mr. Burton invests awe-inspiring ingenuity into the process of reinventing something very small. In the case of "Edward Scissorhands," which opens today at the Ziegfeld, that something is a tale of misunderstood gentleness and stifled creativity, of civilization's power to corrupt innocence, of a heedless beauty and a kindhearted beast. The film, if scratched with something much less sharp than Edward's fingers, reveals proudly adolescent lessons for us all.

On, then, to the better side of "Edward Scissorhands": the tremendous cleverness with which Mr. Burton brings these ideas to life. As embodied by Johnny Depp, Edward himself is a stunning creation, with a blackish cupid's-bow mouth and plaintive expression to offset his fright hairdo, abundant scars and potentially lethal hands.

Those hands, which quiver uncontrollably when Edward experiences strong emotion, are the one aspect of the young man that his creator (played by Vincent Price, who was a hero of Mr. Burton's when the director was still a young Disney animator) neglected to complete. The inventor died just before he could equip Edward with human hands, thus leaving him with these scissor-bladed prototypes. They make a great sight gag, if not a great metaphor.

As in each of Mr. Burton's films, the production design is the central good idea, perhaps even the sole one. This time, with production design by Bo Welch ("Beetlejuice") and cinematography by Stefan Czapsky, it involves bright colors in unlikely combinations, for instance, a lavender-suited Avon lady driving a dandelion-yellow car) and fashionably ridiculous late-1950's artifacts placed prominently throughout the characters' bunkerlike homes. On the lawns of these houses, more and more of Edward's singular topiaries -- in the forms of a ballerina, a penguin, a set of bowling pins and so on -- begin to appear.

It is very much in keeping with the film's fearless, defiant illogic that these shrubbery sculptures should appear where no shrubs grew before. Similarly, the film makes no bones about depicting Winona Ryder as a white-haired granny in the not noticeably futuristic prologue, and as a high school girl, circa 1960, when most of the action takes place. Ms. Ryder, in the former capacity, promises to explain to a grandchild what the story of Edward Scissorhands has to do with snowfall. It's also in keeping with the film's reasoning that the explanation for this, when finally revealed, isn't nearly as interesting as promised.

Ms. Ryder plays Kim Boggs, the daughter of the Avon lady, Peg, and a dryly deadpan patriarch (played by Alan Arkin). As lovely as she is diffident, she makes an enchanting Beauty to Mr. Depp's poignant, bashful Beast. When Edward first arrives in suburbia, he is so flustered that he scares Kim away. (He also inadvertently punches holes in her waterbed.) But he soon becomes part of the household and part of the community, despite insensitive questions -- like "Do you know about bowling?" -- from the locals.

Soon Edward is so much at home that he is virtually a household convenience, helping Peg snip threads when she sews. He also becomes extremely popular with the women of the neighborhood, some of them fascinated by his knack for inventing odd haircuts, and one (played with funny flamboyance by Kathy Baker) especially interested in discovering his other talents. The women in the film, with the exceptions of Peg and Kim, are ninnies, but the men are no more flatteringly presented. Kim's boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall) is a lout, a bully and the cause of Edward's eventual undoing.

Among the film's more haunting visual touches, all of which linger much longer than the possible reasons for their inclusion, are the peculiar shrinelike assemblage of clippings in Edward's fireplace the bladelike beams that open a hole in his roof to the heavens and the inventor's cherished machinery, so pleasantly antiquated that the machines seem to have animal faces. The traces of warmth that spring up unexpectedly, even in the sequence that finds Edward and Kim amid snow and ice, are what save "Edward Scissorhands" from its own potential archness and give it the sweetness of a bona-fide fairy tale. "Edward Scissorhands" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It includes sexual suggestiveness and occasional rude language. Edward Scissorhands Directed by Tim Burton screenplay by Caroline Thompson, story by Mr. Burton and Ms. Thompson director of photography, Stefan Czapsky edited by Richard Halsey music by Danny Elfman production designer, Bo Welch produced by Denise Di Novi and Mr. Burton released by 20th Century Fox. At the Ziegfeld, Avenue of the Americas and 54th Street in Manhattan. Running time: 100 minutes. This film is rated PG-13. Edward Scissorhands . . . Johnny Depp Kim . . . Winona Ryder Peg . . . Dianne Wiest Jim . . . Anthony Michael Hall Joyce . . . Kathy Baker The Inventor . . . Vincent Price Bill . . . Alan Arkin Helen . . . Conchata Ferrell



In the book, Arthur Slugworth is one of Willy Wonka's rival chocolatiers. Slugworth, along with Wonka's other rivals Mr. Fickelgruber and Mr. Prodnose, sent in spies to steal the secret recipes to Wonka's treats for them.

Having obtained these, he began making candy balloons that a consumer blows up to incredible sizes, and then causes to burst before eating them a plagiarized invention.

The work of Slugworth (along with the other rivals) came close to ruining Wonka's factory. Wonka was forced to close his factory and fire all of his workers. A few years later, Wonka's factory began working again (operated exclusively by Oompa-Loompas) and his work continued to dominate the candy industry, with no rival able to plagiarize his work because using the Oompa Loompa as his workers enables Wonka to operate his factory without regular employees and keeping it off-limits to the public, so none of the spies can infiltrate.

Slugworth is never heard from again, but it is stated that Slugworth, Prodnose, or Fickelgruber would each give their front teeth to enter Wonka's inventing room (a laboratory) for 5 minutes. It's presumed that Slugworth, alongside Prodnose and Fickelgruber, may have continued their businesses, but as Willy Wonka stopped hiring human employees, it's likely they no longer were able to produce special treats like those of Wonka.

1971 film

In the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Slugworth's company is in business. Inside Bill's Candy Shop, Wonka's products and signs are the most visible but Slugworth's Sizzlers are also prominently displayed, and one is even sold to a child called June Marie.

Things that are also seen are signs for Fickelgruber's candy. Grandpa Joe describes Slugworth as the worst of Wonka's rivals, telling Charlie that he was one of those who sent his spies in dressed as Wonka workers to steal Wonka's Recipes.

A man calling himself Slugworth is a prominent character later in the film-where he was portrayed by the late Günter Meisner. As each Golden Ticket is found, he approaches the finder and whispers something into his or her ear. After Charlie finds the last ticket, the same man then approaches Charlie as well, and delivers what is presumably the same speech he has given the other children.

He introduces himself as Arthur Slugworth, president of Slugworth Chocolates Incorporated, and bribes the child to bring one piece of the newly invented Everlasting Gobstopper to him so that he can discover and plagiarize the formula. Two of the children respond to Slugworth's bribe. Veruca Salt crosses her fingers behind her back when Willy Wonka asks the children to promise not to show the Everlasting Gobstopper to anyone else.

Mike Teevee asks his mother what secrets they can sell to Slugworth his mother is also heard telling her son to keep his eyes peeled and his mouth shut. Grandpa Joe also responds near the end of the movie. After Willy Wonka snaps at him and Charlie Bucket for violating the rules by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks and bouncing up the ceiling which needs to be washed as a reason of why Charlie didn't get the prize, Joe threatens to give Slugworth the Gobstopper. However, Charlie can't bring himself to betray Wonka and thus returns the Gobstopper to Wonka.

Touched by this display of selflessness, Wonka forgives the theft of the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and reveals that the man isn't actually Slugworth, but a non-Oompa Loompa Wonka worker named Mr. Wilkinson, and that his "offer" was a morality test, which only Charlie passesd.

The movie doesn't explain how the false Wilkinson was able to approach each winner so soon after they found their tickets. However, it's implied that Wonka somehow managed to keep track of each ticket's destination and then he told Wilkinson where they are most likely to be found. This seems likely, as in the 2005 film, Wonka personally places the tickets on the candy bars and they are then shipped to specific locations.

2005 film

Slugworth only makes a split-second appearance in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where he was portrayed by Philip Philmar. He receives a secret recipe from fellow envious candymaker Prodnose and both of them were not heard of again.

Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

In the film, he invades Wonka's chocolate factory to steal a special candy known as the Everlasting Gobstopper. Despite his seemingly antagonistic nature, his reveal as being an employee of Wonka like the original 1971 film is revealed. He was voiced by Mick Wingert.

11 Great Titles Expiring From Netflix in April

Every month, as various licenses expire, streaming services lose movies and TV series from their catalogs. Here are 11 great movies and TV shows leaving Netflix in April.


There’s no greater testament to the skill and craft of this 1995 smash from Ron Howard than the fact that he manages to build (and sustain, for two-plus hours) tension and suspense around an event with a widely known outcome. That event is the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970, intended to be the third manned landing on the moon but aborted after a mechanical failure that put the lives of its three astronauts in jeopardy. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton project credible professionalism in those roles, finding the proper, fleeting moments to let their understandable fear and frustration blast through an Oscar-nominated Ed Harris is brilliant as the flight director on the ground, marshaling the minds tasked with bringing their boys home.

‘Batman’ / ‘Batman Returns’
Leaving Netflix: April 1

Once upon a time, a big-budget, big-screen adaptation of a popular comic book was actually a big deal. But the attraction to Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” wasn’t just its subject, but its style: The Gothically-inclined Burton (“Batman” was released between “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands”) followed the lead of the graphic novels by Frank Miller, eschewing the fizzy, cartoon-pop sensibility of the ’60s television series (and its film spinoff) and crafting a decidedly darker take on the Dark Knight, casting Michael Keaton against type in the title role opposite a riveting (and scenery-chewing) Jack Nicholson as the Joker. It was so successful, Burton was given more even freedom on its 1992 follow-up, which takes Gotham into grimmer territory thanks to Danny DeVito’s freakish take on the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s sizzling turn as Catwoman.

Leaving Netflix: April 1
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One of the most quotable comedies of the modern era (“Cinderella story,” “Be the ball,” “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice”), this 1980 favorite from director Harold Ramis (“Groundhog Day”) often feels like channel surfing between several movies at once: a W.C. Fields-style personality comedy starring Rodney Dangerfield a wiseguy, post-‘Saturday Night Live’ vehicle for Chevy Chase a slapstick farce starring Bill Murray and an earnest coming-of-age comedy-drama featuring Michael O’Keefe. But the inconsistency and incongruity somehow mesh, due in part to the picture’s spirit of cheerful, slobs-vs.-snobs anarchy, resulting in something akin to a coked-up Marx Brothers movie.

‘Cool Runnings’
Leaving Netflix: April 1
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One of the highlights of the 1988 Winter Olympics (from a storytelling perspective, if not a sporting one) was the debut of the Jamaican national bobsled team, which quickly became a fan favorite for their clear discomfort with an event not exactly common to their tropical home. But it soon became a feel-good underdog story of teamwork in the face of adversity — in other words, ideal fodder for a big-screen dramatization by Disney. And what could have been a one-joke physical comedy play instead became a warmhearted ’90s classic, thanks to the energetic direction by Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) and the charismatic turns by Doug E. Doug, Leon, Malik Yoba, and Rawle D. Lewis as the team members, and (in one of his final performances) the great John Candy as their coach.

‘John Mulaney: New in Town’
Leaving Netflix: April 1
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This 2012 special from John Mulaney, the former “Saturday Night Live” writer and stand-up comic extraordinaire, which originally aired on Comedy Central, was only his second such showcase, but he already showed an old-timer’s mastery of the form. His deceptively simple persona, of a meek but good-hearted soul doing his very best to navigate a complicated world, proves durable and reliable as he explores dating, doctor’s visits and basic social interactions. The show’s funniest (if somewhat specialized) bit, however, may be his lengthy rumination on the pleasures of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and its resident skeptic, Ice-T.

‘Never Let Me Go’
Leaving Netflix: April 1
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Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 dystopian romance novel gets the big-screen treatment in this 2010 drama from director Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”). Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield star as three students and occasional romantic partners who discover, in their teens, that all of them are clones — born and raised for the eventual harvesting of their organs. Screenwriter Alex Garland displays the thoughtful, chamber-music approach to science fiction of his subsequent “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation” (both of which he directed). Romanek, meanwhile, pulls off the neat trick of creating a cold, sterile world that is nonetheless infected by warmth and humanity — attributable in no small part to the skillful work of his crackerjack cast.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’
Leaving Netflix: April 1
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Removing this 1994 prison drama from Netflix probably won’t dent its ubiquity — it’s a regular topper of IMDb’s Top 250 list and it seems to pop up on TNT or TBS on a near-weekly basis. But it still smarts not to have this cinematic comfort food a mouse-click away, as it features the quintessential Morgan Freeman performance (wise, calm, and narrating for clarity) and some of Tim Robbins’ most complicated work (as a man who says little and reveals even less). Frank Darabont’s patient filmmaking, in which a series of seemingly casual vignettes crescendo into an emotionally overwhelming climax, makes this a particularly re-watchable film, in which little throwaways and asides take on extra meaning upon second (and third, and tenth) viewings.

Between his first and second cracks at Batman, director Christopher Nolan slid in this twisty, stylish exercise in sleight-of-hand moviemaking, as if to assure the fans of his breakthrough movie “Memento” that he was still up to his old tricks. This time around, the term “tricks” is literal: In “The Prestige,” Nolan tells the story of two stage magicians in 1890s London, whose friendly rivalry first becomes fraught, then deadly. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale scheme and connive appropriately in the leading roles a standout supporting cast includes Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and David Bowie.

The enigmatic and eccentric street artist Banksy directs this Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary, in which he profiles the rise of Thierry Guetta, known by the street-art name “Mister Brainwash.” Frisky and funny, it casts a cynical insider’s eye on the art world, as well as on Banksy’s place inside it — particularly in retrospect because of rumors that Guetta was, in fact, a creation of Banksy’s and that the entire story is a made-up prank. The director (who never reveals his face in the film) has denied the rumors, but they lend an extra dimension to this film, in which everything (and perhaps everyone) could be a bluff.

‘Begin Again’
Leaving Netflix: April 27
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The Irish writer and director John Carney revisited his microbudget, Oscar-winning indie sensation “Once” with a well-financed, star-cast exploration of the same themes: the magnificence of pop music, the semi-romantic charge of collaboration and the power of a song to say what can’t be put into words alone. Keira Knightley is charming (and believable) as a songwriter who finds an unexpected champion in a burned-out record executive (Mark Ruffalo). The musical numbers are stirring, and the dramatic beats land, but its best scene is its simplest: its two protagonists, wandering through New York City with their headphones, playing each other their favorite songs. Sweet but not saccharine, it is full of tiny moments of truth.

Watch the video: What If Tim Burton Directed Batman Forever? (May 2022).