Tim Burton meets The Addams Family is the kind of union of artist and material that appears obvious. Inevitable, even. Yet despite The Addams Family, which has been a brand since the 1930s, seeing a resurgence in the early ‘90s, around the time Burton was reaching his artistic and pop culture peak with projects like Edward Scissorhands (1990) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), the filmmaker and material have never actually come together… until now.
As per Deadline, Burton and MGM TV, which owns the movie and television rights to the characters, are shopping around a live-action television reboot of The Addams Family, which would include Burton as an executive producer (a first for the filmmaker) and as director of possibly all episodes. Additionally, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar of Smallville fame are lined up as showrunners who will lead the writer’s room in addition to executive producing the project. Apparently, a bidding war has already commenced with Netflix reportedly leading the pack in acquiring the series.
The Addams Family concept was of course invented in 1938 by Charles Addams as a recurring cartoon in The New Yorker. There the artist would use these kooky characters to satirize the culture and attitudes of his era with the Gothic iconography then associated with horror movies. Of course the characters were always eccentric and ever lovable.
Yet for many folks today, The Addams Family is starkly defined by the pair of early ‘90s comedies directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. While those films were ostensibly based on the old Addams Family television series that started in 1964, they were closer to the more macabre and devilish temperament of the original cartoons. They were also closer to the wacky Burton aesthetic that was coming to dominate the mainstream. With the first Sonnenfeld film premiering one year after Edward Scissorhands, and three years after Burton’s surprise Gothic comedy hit, Beetlejuice (1988), both the studio and Sonnenfeld were clearly emulating Burton’s aesthetic.