Pee-wee's Big Adventure Main article: Pee-wee's Big Adventure Not long after, actor Paul Reubens saw Vincent and Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee Herman gained mainstream popularity with a successful stage show at The Groundlings and then the Roxy which was later turned into an HBO special. The film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, was made on a budget of $8 million and grossed more than $40 million at the box office. Burton, a fan of the eccentric musical group Oingo Boingo, asked songwriter Danny Elfman to provide the music for the film. Since then, Elfman has scored every film that Tim Burton has directed except for Ed Wood (because of a falling out that they had and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street because the music was based on Stephen Sondheim's musical. Beetlejuice Main article: Beetlejuice After directing episodes for the revitalized version of '50s/'60s anthology horror series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, Burton received his next big project:
Beetlejuice (1988), a supernatural comedy horror about a young couple forced to cope with life after death, and the family of pretentious yuppies who invade their treasured New England home. Their teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) has an obsession with death which allows her to see the deceased couple. Starring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, and featuring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, the film grossed $80 million on a relatively low budget and won an Academy Award for Best Makeup. It would be converted into a cartoon of the same name, with Burton playing a role as executive producer, that ran on ABC and later Fox.
Batman Main article: Batman (1989 film) Burton's ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives, and he received his first big budget film, Batman. The production was plagued with problems. Burton repeatedly clashed with the film's producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, but the most notable debacle involved casting. For the title role, Burton chose to cast Michael Keaton as Batman following their previous collaboration in Beetlejuice, despite Keaton's average physique, inexperience with action films, and reputation as a comic actor. Although Burton won in the end, the furor over the casting provoked enormous fan animosity, to the extent that Warner Brothers' share price slumped. Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a "bulked-up" ultra-masculine man as Batman, insisting that the Caped Crusader should be an ordinary (albeit fabulously wealthy) man who dressed up in an elaborate bat costume to frighten criminals. Burton cast Jack Nicholson as The Joker (Tim Curry being his second choice) in a move that helped assuage fans' fears, as well as attracting older audiences not as interested in a superhero film. When the film opened in June 1989, it was backed by the biggest marketing and merchandising campaign in film history at the time, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing well over US $250 million in the US alone and $400 million worldwide (numbers not adjusted for inflation) and earning critical acclaim for the performances of both Keaton and Nicholson, as well as the film's production aspects, which won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the film helped establish Burton as a profitable director, and it also proved to be a huge influence on future superhero films, which eschewed the bright, all-American heroism of Richard Donner's Superman for a grimmer, more realistic look and characters with more psychological depth. It also became a major inspiration for the successful 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, in as much as the darkness of the picture and its sequel allowed for a darker Batman on television. Burton claimed that the graphic novel The Killing Joke was a major influence on his film adaptation of Batman: "I was never a giant comic book fan, but I've always loved the image of Batman and the Joker. The reason I've never been a comic book fan – and I think it started when I was a child – is because I could never tell which box I was supposed to read. I don't know if it was dyslexia or whatever, but that's why I loved The Killing Joke, because for the first time I could tell which one to read. It's my favorite. It's the first comic I've ever loved. And the success of those graphic novels made our ideas more acceptable.
Edward Scissorhands Main article: Edward Scissorhands In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. His friend Johnny Depp, a teen idol at the end of the 1980s due primarily to his work on the hit TV series 21 Jump Street, was cast in the title role of Edward, who was the creation of an eccentric and old-fashioned inventor (played by Vincent Price in one of his last screen appearances). Edward looked human, but was left with scissors in the place of hands due to the untimely death of his creator. Set in suburbia (and shot in Lakeland, Florida), the film is largely seen as Burton's autobiography of his childhood in Burbank. Depp wrote a similar comment in the foreword to Mark Salisbury's book, Burton on Burton, regarding his first meeting with Burton over the casting of the film. Edward is considered one of Burton's best movies by some critics.Following this collaboration with Burton, Depp starred in Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows. In 2004, Matthew Bourne came to Burton with the idea to turn the story of Edward into a ballet. In 2005, the ballet first aired. It has now toured the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.
Batman Returns Main article: Batman Returns The day Warner Brothers declined to make the more personal Scissorhands even after the success of Batman, Burton finally agreed to direct the sequel for Warner Brothers on the condition that he would be granted total control. The result was Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton returning as the Dark Knight, and a new triad of villains: Danny DeVito (as the Penguin), Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman) and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, an evil corporate tycoon and original character created for the film (similar to Superman III 's Ross Webster). Darker and considerably more personal than its predecessor, concerns were raised that the film was too scary for children. Audiences were even more uncomfortable at the film's overt sexuality, personified by the sleek, fetish-inspired styling of Catwoman's costume. One critic remarked, "too many villains spoiled the Batman", highlighting Burton's decision to focus the storyline more on the villains instead of Batman. The film also polarized the fanbase, with some loving the darkness and quirkiness, while others felt it was not true to the core aspects of the source material. Burton made many changes to the Penguin which would subsequently be applied to the character in both comics and television. While in the comics, he was an ordinary man, Burton created a freak of nature resembling a penguin with webbed, flipper-like fingers, a hooked, beak-like nose, and a penguin-like body (resulting in a rotund, obese man). Released in 1992, Batman Returns grossed $282.8 million worldwide, making it another financial success, though not to the extent of its predecessor.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Main article: The Nightmare Before Christmas Next, Burton wrote and produced (but did not direct, due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) for Disney, originally meant to be a children's book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick and written by Caroline Thompson, based on Burton's original story, world and characters. The film received positive reviews for the film's stop motion animation, musical score and original storyline and was a box office success, grossing $50 million. Burton collaborated with Selick again for James and the Giant Peach (1996), which Burton co-produced. The film helped to generate a renewed interest in stop motion animation.
Cabin Boy Main article: Cabin Boy In 1994, Burton and frequent co-producer Denise Di Novi produced the 1994 fantasy-comedy Cabin Boy, starring comedian Chris Elliott and directed/written by Adam Resnick. Burton was originally supposed to direct the film after seeing Elliott perform on Get a Life, but handed the directing responsibility to Resnick once he was offered Ed Wood. The film was almost entirely panned by critics, even earning Chris Elliott a 1995 Razzie Award for "Worst New Star".