Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of those rare operas that crosses over into geek circles mainly because of the subject matter: a barber who kills his clientele and, along with his ghoulish landlady, turns their corpses into meat pies to be sold to the poor of London.
It turns out that the suits at Warner Bros may not have read the whole pitch when Tim Burton sold them a movie version of the show – maybe all they saw was Johnny Depp in period garb and figured it was good for a billion dollars international. But now, after having seen some of the footage that Burton has shot, the execs are feeling a little squeamish and, according to the New York Post’s Page Six, are asking the director to cut back on the splatter.
Apparently they’re upset about the amount of blood in some of the scenes where Todd dispatches his victims with a razor slice to the throat. Also upsetting the WB tie-wearers is a scene where a 10 year old boy feeds corpses into a meat grinder so they can be made into pies.
Is Burton not obligated to deliver a PG-13 film? I guess that Sweeney Todd is sort of R-rated in very concept, but the MPAA is a tool of the studio system and I’m sure that they would allow some slashing and cannibalism to get by with a weak rating… unless Burton really pushes the issue, which is what it sounds like he’s doing. I can’t really think of an R-rated musical in recent times.
Meanwhile, David Poland ran the above teaser poster on his site without attributing where it came from. It looks like a photo of a theater display to me, but it could have come from an official source as well. Personally, I like it a lot better than the Edward Scissorhands-esque poster that came out of Comic Con.