Timothy William Burton was born August 25, 1958 in Burbank, California. Burbank may not ring as many bells as Hollywood, but it is the home to many film and television studios — NBC, Warner Brothers, Disney, and others. The Hero of his childhood was actor Vincent Price.
After high school in 1977, Burton entered the Disney animation program in this year, thinking it would be a good way to make a living. In 1979, he was drafted to join the Disney animation ranks.
After a few unsucessful projects, he was set loose on his own projects. These included a poem and artwork that years later would become The Nightmare Before Christmas, the animated short Vincent, and the live-action short Frankenweenie.
The latter two received little or no outside exposure, but Burton did get to work with his idol, Vincent Price, for the first time and they remained friends until Price’s death in 1993. Horror writer Stephen King had seen Frankenweenie, and strongly recommended it to Bonni Lee, an executive at Warner Brothers.
Following the surprise success of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Burton didn’t make another film for almost three years. It wasn’t until he was offered the anarchic screenplay for Beetlejuice that he finally found another project suited to his unique vision.
Burton got an extremely personal project greenlit by 20th Century Fox. Edward Scissorhands was the first time Burton had full creative control over a feature film, having written the story and also produced the movie. The film was a hit with moviegoers and critics, and marked the beginning of Burton being taken seriously as an artist.
After finally seeing his dream project realised with the feature length stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton returned to smaller filmmaking with his next project, Ed Wood. An affectionate tribute to the supposed worst filmmaker of all time, it was not a hit at the box office, but won Burton the best reviews of his career, as well as two Oscars. Burton made something of a comeback a few years later with his first real horror film, Sleepy Hollow.
Between filming Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow, Tim Burton spent over a year working on a new Superman film. A preliminary script draft was written by independent filmmaker and comic geek extraordinaire Kevin Smith. Nicolas Cage was attached to the project to play the Man Of Steel. However, Burton was not particularly happy with the script, and a spiraling budget caused Warner Brothers to pull the plug on the project.
At the same time Burton’s personal life was in a state of upheaval. Both of his parents died within a short space of time, and his relationship with his wife Lisa Marie ended. Shortly after the release of Planet of the Apes, Burton began dating one of the stars of the film, Helena Bonham Carter.
In 2005, Burton directed back to back movies for the first time. His first project was another movie based on a novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Johnny Depp played the lead role of Willy Wonka, and the film was one of the most successful blockbusters of 2005. It was followed two months later by the release of the stop motion animated film, Corpse Bride. Both films generally received good reviews, and Corpse Bride was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature .
As for his next project, Burton was set to direct Believe It or Not (starring Jim Carrey) about the life of Robert Ripley.However, that project was delayed and will now be directed, apparently, by Spike Jonze (though Burton will still produce). Burton’s next directorial project turned out to be the long-rumored musical Sweeney Todd. It was released in December, 2007 to rave reviews. Burton has a few directing jobs on the horizon – Alice in Wonderland Frankenweenie and 9, which means his fans have no shortage of films to look forward to.