Corpse Bride is in theaters starting today — if you live in Los Angeles, New York or Toronto. For the rest of North America, and other parts of the world, you can begin seeing it next week, September 23rd.
Last night, I spoke at USC’s 466 class, which screens a different film each week. At the Q & A afterwards, host Leonard Maltin talks with someone involved with the picture, often an alumni. I used to be in the class, so it’s bewildering to realize this was my sixth 466 (after Go, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Big Fish, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
In many ways, this was the easiest of all the classes I’ve spoken at, because with this film I don’t have as much of that please-please like it I beg you instinct. I feel much less ownership of Corpse Bride than the others. Don’t get me wrong — I’m proud of it — but working in animation is inherently much more collaborative in terms of story. For starters, I was the third writer to work on it, after Caroline Thompson and Pamela Pettler. Then there’s a whole department called “Story,” whose job it is to figure out how to convert the screenplay into storyboards, and along the way, a lot gets changed and rearranged. Altogether, it’s much less “my” movie than the others.
But it was a lot of work.
Often, I’d get storyboards from London for scenes that were about to shoot, and would have a day or less to tweak the dialogue before an actor would record the needed lines. Whenever I visited the stages outside London, most of my time was spent watching the scenes already shot, and discussing with the rest of the team how to handle this moment or that. At absolutely no point could I get precious about things needing to stick closer to how they were written. I was there to help, so I helped where I could. I felt like a craftsman rather than artist, and that’s fine.
Reviews so far have been really good, so here’s hoping it gets a good reception. A lot of people ask me, “Isn’t it too scary for kids?” Not really. If your kids like Halloween, they’ll be fine. It’s never gory, and the Land of the Dead stuff is pretty light and breezy.