Tim Burton Departs MALEFICENT; David Yates Mentioned as a Replacement Candidate

     May 16, 2011

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Maleficent, the Disney project that retells the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale through the eyes of the wicked fairy godmother, is still in the early stages of development.  Early enough that Tim Burton was at most loosely attached to direct, contractually free to move on if he so chooses — and so he has.  Heat Vision does not specify why Burton left the project, but the split sounds amicable enough.  His Alice in Wonderland collaborator Linda Woolverton is on still on board to write the script, and Burton is still working with Disney on turning his Frankenweenie short into a stop-motion feature.

The studio is developing Maleficent as a starring vehicle for Angelina Jolie, though Disney would be wise to beware the precedent of abandonment set by Mr. Burton.  Feelers are out to replacement directors; Heat Vision mentions David Yates, the man behind the final four chapters in the Harry Potter saga, as an early contender.  More on the project after the jump:

The history of Maleficent, pulled from this report:

“The wicked fairy godmother is the character who casts the original spell on Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Princess Aurora, quoth Wikipedia) that the young girl will prick herself on a splinter and die; Maleficent is an archrival of sorts to the good fairy godmother, who casts a counter-spell that says the girl will sleep for a century and then be awakened by the kiss of a prince. The original versions of the fairy tale don’t name Maleficent; the character was named and shaped by Disney for its 1959 film, and would of course be deepened and amplified for this one.”

Burton is a frequently great director, and Maleficent has a striking premise, but this split is surely for the best.  The headache of my Alice in Wonderland viewing never fully subsided, and another megabudget Burton movie with dragons and wicked women and Gothic set design (presumably) sounds like a vicious migraine in the making.

Warner Bros. wants Yates for their Al Capone biopic Cicero.  But if his schedule permits, or Disney can lure him away from the Harry Potter studio, Yates is a great choice for the subject matter and scope of the project.  Good luck, Mickey.

Burton will debut his Dark Shadows adaptation with Johnny Depp on May 11, 2012.  Frankenweenie follows on October 5, 2012.

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