Burton dives into rabbit hole with Disney

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Tim Burton is returning home to Disney.

Burton has signed a two-picture deal with the company that will see him direct and produce 3-D films of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and a remake of Burton's own "Frankenweenie."

The "Alice" adaptation will combine live-action and performance capture and will be based on a script by Linda Woolverton ("The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast"). It will be produced by longtime Burton collaborator Richard Zanuck and former Disney chairman Joe Roth with Jennifer and Suzanne Todd.

Filming will begin in early 2008 with a production completion date in May. Disney creative executive Jason Reed will oversee the project.

Burton will then segue to produce and direct a full-length version of his 1984 short film, the cult favorite "Frankenweenie," about a pet dog who is brought back to life by his loyal owner in a very unusual way. The film will be shot using stop-motion animation.

Both movies will be presented in Disney Digital 3-D.

"They have 'instant classic' written all over them and will certainly entertain audiences worldwide for years to come," Disney chairman Dick Cook said. "Tim is one of the most dynamic and creative storytellers of our time, and having him back at Disney is just great."

Walt Disney Studios motion picture production president Oren Aviv said he plans to put the entire company behind "Alice" in terms of consumer products, publishing and theme parks (an "Alice" ride already exists at Walt Disney World).

"It's a perfect marriage of material and filmmaker," Aviv said "He's a guy that we always imagined would be the perfect director for this project, which, in the hands of someone like him, becomes a much bigger event."

Burton began his career at Disney when he received a fellowship from the company and worked on movies like 1981's "The Fox and the Hound." While there, he pursued personal projects that more suited his tastes, such as the six-minute, animated, black-and-white Vincent Price tribute "Vincent" and the 27-minute short "Frankenweenie."

"Frankenweenie" was deemed inappropriate for children by Disney and shelved for years. Adding insult to injury, Burton was let go by the company, who said he had wasted resources making it.

Not too long afterward, Burton made his feature debut at Warners with "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," and his career took off. He returned to Disney via its Touchstone label to produce 1993's stop-motion "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," which has now proved to be a perennial favorite, and 1994's "Ed Wood," which, though a boxoffice flop, garnered critical acclaim and netted Martin Landau an Academy Award.

Burton, repped by WMA, is currently putting the finishing touches on the holiday motion picture "Sweeney Todd," starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
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