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EXCL: John August On the Dark Shadows Movie That Never Was

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows is making its way onto DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow (Tuesday, October 2nd) and Shock Till You Drop was offered the chance to speak to the original screenwriter of that film, John August.

August is out promoting another Burton effort, Frankenweenie, opening in theaters this Friday (October 5th), however, this writer wanted to know a bit more about his original vision of Dark Shadows before Seth Grahame-Smith came in and did a rewrite on the film.

Asked how much of his work is represented in the final cut, August told me, “Not a lot.  Dark Shadows, when it came to me, it was before Twilight had come out and before True Blood.  They said, ‘Let’s make a big gothic, vampire drama.’  I pitched that and I wrote a Godfather-like saga of the Collins family and Barnabas was at the center of it all.”

“I was really happy with it and it looked like it was going to happen,” August continued.  “Other movies came first, other things happened first.  Twilight and True Blood came out and, suddenly, vampires were everywhere.  I understood the instinct of, ‘Let’s not make it a drama, let’s make it a comedy,’ but that wasn’t the movie I set out to write.  It was frustrating, but that’s the nature of screenwriting.  You’re building a movie that may not end up shooting.

One similarity August noted was that his story was a period piece as well.  “It took itself seriously.  It was set in ’71 too and leaned on that for a bit of the comedy, but it played itself straight and not a comedy.  I was excited to make that movie and, honestly, I think it’s one of the best scripts I’ve written.  But I totally get why, at the time they went off to make it, they didn’t make that version.  It was frustrating to see other things coming out doing what was there, like True Blood, but that’s going to happen.”

Shock will have more with August later this week; keep your eyes peeled for the full interview.


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