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'Dark Shadows' and 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' writer takes criticism (like a stake) to heart

When it comes to vampires, reflection just isn’t something they do.

The same is true of Hollywood, which is why it’s unusual — and kind of reassuring — anytime someone accepts the criticism and vows to do better when a movie fails to connect.

Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of the books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Unholy Night, started the summer with two promising projects, having written the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and the historical fantasy mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based on his own novel.

Then both films ended up underperforming. “On one hand I got to make two movies with some extraordinary visionary filmmakers,” Grahame-Smith says in a surprisingly frank interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ Gina McIntyre. “On the other, the movies didn’t work. So while it’s great to be on the scoreboard, you also have to own the fact that you’re now 0-2.”

So how does he plan to pull things together for his real-life second act?


Box office report: 'Men in Black 3' tops Memorial Day weekend with $70M; 'Moonrise Kingdom' huge in limited release

Will Smith returned to theaters for the first time since 2008’s Seven Pounds with this weekend’s Men in Black 3, which put the A-list celeb back on top of the box office. Sony’s $230 million (some reports suggest a much higher budget) alien-zapping sequel earned an estimated $70 million over the extended Memorial Day weekend.

Men in Black 3 will easily become Smith’s thirteenth film to earn over $100 million at the box office — a truly impressive feat — but its opening weekend actually leaves much to be desired. Over the three-day portion of the weekend, MIB 3 grossed $55 million, which was higher than the debuts of Men in Black ($51.1 million) and Men in Black II ($52.1 million). (Due to higher ticket prices, 3-D surcharges, and IMAX fees, though, it sold far fewer tickets than its predecessors.) The original Men in Black earned $250.7 million in 1997. Men in Black II scored $190.4 million in 2002. Adjusting for ticket-price inflation, those totals soar to $432.6 million and $259.6 million, respectively. In today’s frontloaded box office culture, Men in Black 3 won’t likely reach those heights. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Avengers' easily holds off 'Dark Shadows', scores gigantic $29.1 million Friday

Sorry, Captain Jack, but Captain America isn’t ready to give up the top spot at the box office yet!

In its second weekend in theaters, The Avengers is still breaking records — this time, it’s headed for the best second weekend in box office history. The superhero ensemble film took in a gargantuan $29.1 million on Friday, which should lead to a weekend in the $95-105 million range — far more than current record holder Avatar, which earned $75.6 million in its second frame.

Tonight, on its ninth day of release, The Avengers will cross the $300 million mark (it’s made $299.1 million so far), and on Sunday it will soar past $350 million. No film has ever reached those milestones faster. READ FULL STORY

Movie Talk: Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum on 'Dark Shadows' -- VIDEO

Movie Talk‘s subject du jour is Dark Shadows, the eighth collaboration between director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. EW critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum examine how Burton-esque the movie really is and whether or not Depp’s work as the vampire Barnabas Collins — is it earnest, kitschy, or both? — in this remake of the ’60s gothic soap opera is enough to carry the whole film.

Watch the latest installment of Movie Talk With Owen & Lisa below. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Johnny Depp won't be able to escape the 'Dark Shadows' of 'The Avengers'

Only one new wide release hits theaters this weekend — Tim Burton’s adaptation of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows — but the $125 million vampire film, which stars Johnny Depp, Eva Green, and Michelle Pfeiffer, isn’t looking at a Twilight-size debut.

That’s partly due to The Avengers, which will still be a force to be reckoned with in its second weekend and could be the first film to earn over $100 million in its sophomore frame.

Here’s how the Top 5 might shake out.

Jonathan Frid, original 'Dark Shadows' star, dies at 87

UPDATED: Johnny Depp comments below …

Just a few weeks before his most famous character was to be reborn, the original Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows has died.

Jonathan Frid, the Canadian actor who brought the suave bloodsucker to life on the 1966-71 gothic soap opera, passed away from natural causes on April 13 in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, according to MPI Home Video, which releases the Dark Shadows DVDs.

Dark Shadows inspired a generation of boys — Tim Burton and Johnny Depp among them — to become obsessed with a show originally aimed at their mothers. On May 11, Burton and Depp will debut their passion project: a big-screen version of the tale, with Depp taking on the role Frid originated. READ FULL STORY

'Dark Shadows' screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith on trailer reaction: 'We wanted to have fun with it'

The next three months are going to be a whirlwind for writer Seth Grahame-Smith. On April 10, the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author’s next foray into genre-tweaked revisionist fiction, Unholy Night — about the Three Kings of the Nativity — arrives in bookstores. On May 11, his big screen version of the beloved horror soap opera Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton, hits theaters. And on June 22, Grahame-Smith’s adaptation of his hit novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov, will open.

“It’s going to be a very interesting, crazy spring and summer,” he tells EW with a laugh, minutes before stepping onto the stage at WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif. for the big panel on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Grahame-Smith is especially aware of what’s in store for him at the multiplex, with two dark, gothic debuting within six weeks of each other. “The good news is that they’re extremely different,” he says. “One is much more of an entertainment, much more overtly funny. And one is a kick-ass period action movie.”

The bad news? Reaction to the Dark Shadows trailer has been, in Grahame-Smith’s words, “mixed,” with many fans of the TV show crying foul over the trailer’s jokey, winky tone. It’s a reaction that Grahame-Smith says he understands, although it took him a bit by surprise. Check out our interview about it below: READ FULL STORY

'Dark Shadows' trailer: Johnny Depp/Tim Burton vampire soap opera plays for laughs

The beginning of the trailer is straight-up gothic horror: an 18th-century romance, a jealous witch, a freshly born vampire crying blood, a hushed ghost whispering “He’s coming …”

Then Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows turns on the laugh track.

This movie, based on the 1966-1971 supernatural soap opera, turns out to take its source material not so seriously. When the buried undead bloodsucker Barnabas Collins is freed from his tomb in the year 1972, he finds the time period … a little funky.


'Dark Shadows': New shot of Johnny Depp

If you wanted to get closer to Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins in our official first look at the cast of Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows last fall, here’s your chance. Warner Bros. has released this closeup of Depp (and his vampire nails). Is it just me, or does he look younger than he did in The Tourist?

Barnabas Collins is an 18th century gentleman who was transformed against his will into a vampire and buried in a tomb — until he’s uncovered by construction workers in the year 1972. As screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith told EW last year, he’s still a ladies man. “In some sense he can be a terrifying killer; on the other hand, women have a weakness for him and he has a weakness for women … He can be a very well-mannered, well-meaning vampire most of the time, until his stomach is empty or someone challenges his beloved Collins family.”

What do you think? Success?

Read more:
Johnny Depp’s true ‘Dark Shadows’ vampire revealed! — EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK
Johnny Depp on ‘Dark Shadows': Can a vampire get corn stuck in his fangs?

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