After a major falling out with director Sam Raimi after they worked together on Spider-Man 2, musician/composer Danny Elfman reportedly said he would never work with the director again. But wounds heal over time, or maybe Raimi’s intriguing upcoming projects were too much for the musical wiz to pass on. Either way, Elfman is reportedly onboard to score Oz: The Great and Powerful, Raimi’s reboot of the 1939 classic musical which is set to star James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis.
Oz: The Great and Powerful is Disney’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz. No news as of yet, if it will be a traditional musical like the original, but something Elfman said in a recent interview with Buzzine suggests it might be. “I’m already having to start to write pre-production music for Frankenweenie and for Oz because of stuff that they’ll sing to.”
If there are any Nightmare Before Christmas fans out there, you understand that the macabre melodies of Elfman helped shape Tim Burton‘s unique–and at times twisted–visions. But what some people don’t realize is that Elfman has composed plenty of across-the-board film soundtracks, from the music behind Burton’s quirky productions to summer blockbusters like Spider-Man and upcoming robot boxing pic Real Steel. This year he’ll be scoring two Burton films, exciting gothic soap opera reboot Dark Shadows and the animated Frankenweenie. He’s attached to score buzzed-about The Hunger Games as well.
I’m excited about the two Burton projects, as his stop-motion animated fantasies exist more vibrantly in the realm of Elfman’s smooth, dark melodies. Frankenweenie is based on one of Burton’s early stop-motion shorts about a boy obsessed with Vincent Price. The Dark Shadows reboot will star frequent Burton collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, as well as Eva Green and Michelle Pfeiffer. Elfman mentioned the Burton projects, as well as some others on the horizon, in the same interview with Buzzine.
It’s a two-Tim Burton year, and a Sam Raimi, so there’s three. I’m not going to say no to Tim and Sam — that’s already three movies. And then Men in Black 3, well of course I don’t want somebody else to do number 3, so there was another one. And then another one called The Hunger Games popped up, which seemed like a really interesting thing. Different — and different catches my attention in a way that’s like, “Oh, I can’t ever pass up a chance to do something different.” So that deal’s not even closed, it may not even happen, but we’re well along with that.
Despite my belief that Elfman’s collaborations with Burton have produced some of the smartest and most memorable work, especially in the genre of stop-motion animation musicals, Elfman downplays the importance of his musical participation.
No, I think Tim’s movies would be successful, regardless of who did the music. I don’t think the music can make a movie. I like to think that if I score a movie, it makes it a little more something, that his films got a little extra something, as I felt when I watched the Harryhausen films with the Bernard Herrmann scores. Clash of the Titans didn’t have a Bernard Herrmann score, which I missed, but I still enjoyed the movie. But I liked Jason and the Argonauts and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad a little more because it did have the Harryhausen score. So I think he still would have had the same exact career without me; I just hope that I’ve added some element to his films, that’s all.
Some critics say Elfman’s particular genius is a thing of the past, but I think even his most mundane scores are still a cut above the rest; given the right creative project he can dazzle. Whether Raimi’s Oz or Burton’s Frankenweenie will be the catalyst for an epic musical triumph is anyone’s guess, but I have no doubt these films will be all the better for Elfman’s participation.