When Entertainment Weekly reported earlier this week that Dreamworks/Paramount was planning to preview Tim Burton’s big screen rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, it seemed wrong. Geek god Burton attending (to the best of my knowledge) his first Comic Con with footage from one of the year’s most anticipated films with zero hype from the studio? As part of an already crowded two hour Hall H presentation featuring JJ Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary, Andy Samberg and Indy IV? Didn’t sound right.
Turns out, it wasn’t right at all. There’ll be no Burton, no footage, no nothin’.
But now that EW briefly got my hopes up, I actually think this is a missed opportunity. Obviously, Burton at the Con would’ve been a major coup for Paramount/Dreamworks (and probably worthy of its own panel). But even if the director balked at being interrogated by wound-up geeks for an hour, it still would’ve been helpful to give this audience a taste of a project that, despite its sensationalistic flourishes, is more of a musical-theater holy grail. And while Depp is a serviceable selling point to those with no connection to Sondheim’s very particular style, I don’t see how it would hurt to essentially define the thing five months out for people who only vaguely know the film as a Burton-Depp reunion. Though the studio may have erred in its selling of Dreamgirls, that 2006 Cannes preview reel did nothing but bolster the film’s profile.
And a Comic Con preview is a virtual guarantor of financial success. Just look at what it did for Grindhouse.