Edward Scissorhands (1990)

PG-13 | 107 mins | Fantasy | 7 December 1990

Director:

Tim Burton

Cinematographer:

Stefan Czapsky

Editor:

Colleen Halsey

Production Designer:

Bo Welch

Production Company:

Twentieth Century Fox
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HISTORY

       According to a 23 Nov 1990 LA Weekly article, the project originated in 1986, shortly after Tim Burton’s successful directorial debut, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985, see entry). A 12 Aug 1990 LAT article stated that Burton originally conceived the film as a musical. Having drawn sketches of “Edward Scissorhands,” he shared them with writer Caroline Thompson, a fellow client of the William Morris Agency. Burton was a fan of Thompson’s 1983 novel, First Born, and the two began developing the story for Edward Scissorhands together.
       Although Burton had a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio passed on the project when he brought it to them in 1988, as noted in a 21 Dec 1990 LAT article. Weeks later, Twentieth Century Fox agreed to finance the script without participating in its development, allowing Burton and Thompson total creative freedom. Once the script was turned in, the studio would have four weeks to green-light the project or the rights reverted to Burton, in what was referred to as a “two-step pay-or-play deal.” A 26 Aug 1990 NYT article stated that Thompson was so inspired by the concept, she wrote the script in three weeks.
       When Burton’s 1989 picture, Batman, became Warner Bros.’ most successful picture to date, earning $425 million worldwide by mid-Aug 1990, Twentieth Century Fox doubled the director’s previously agreed-upon salary and increased the budget for Edward Scissorhands to $20 million, as stated in the 23 Nov 1990 LA Weekly.
       Tom Cruise was originally attached to star, but a 25 Nov 1989 ... More Less

       According to a 23 Nov 1990 LA Weekly article, the project originated in 1986, shortly after Tim Burton’s successful directorial debut, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985, see entry). A 12 Aug 1990 LAT article stated that Burton originally conceived the film as a musical. Having drawn sketches of “Edward Scissorhands,” he shared them with writer Caroline Thompson, a fellow client of the William Morris Agency. Burton was a fan of Thompson’s 1983 novel, First Born, and the two began developing the story for Edward Scissorhands together.
       Although Burton had a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio passed on the project when he brought it to them in 1988, as noted in a 21 Dec 1990 LAT article. Weeks later, Twentieth Century Fox agreed to finance the script without participating in its development, allowing Burton and Thompson total creative freedom. Once the script was turned in, the studio would have four weeks to green-light the project or the rights reverted to Burton, in what was referred to as a “two-step pay-or-play deal.” A 26 Aug 1990 NYT article stated that Thompson was so inspired by the concept, she wrote the script in three weeks.
       When Burton’s 1989 picture, Batman, became Warner Bros.’ most successful picture to date, earning $425 million worldwide by mid-Aug 1990, Twentieth Century Fox doubled the director’s previously agreed-upon salary and increased the budget for Edward Scissorhands to $20 million, as stated in the 23 Nov 1990 LA Weekly.
       Tom Cruise was originally attached to star, but a 25 Nov 1989 Screen International item reported that he had “second thoughts” and dropped out of the project. However, the 12 Aug 1990 LAT stated that Cruise and Burton mutually parted ways after “several hours of meetings” when Cruise expressed concern over Scissorhands’s “lack of virility.” Michael Jackson , William Hurt, and Robert Downey, Jr. expressed interest in the role, and Tom Hanks was offered the part but passed in favor of Bonfire of the Vanities (1990, see entry). Ultimately Johnny Depp was cast to co-star opposite then girl friend, Winona Ryder.
       According to a 17 Dec 1989 Long Beach Press-Telegram item, Burton considered South Carolina and Irving, TX, as settings for the suburban fantasy, which called for a 1950s neighborhood with sidewalks on both sides of the street and little to no foliage. Land O’Lakes, a housing settlement in a neighborhood north of Tampa, FL, was eventually chosen. Residents of the neighborhood, built circa 1986 according to production notes in AMPAS library files, consented to seven weeks of production. Forty-four houses were painted in pastel colors, including blue, green, pink, and yellow, and windows on some of the houses were reduced in size to give a sense of paranoia, as noted in a 26 Aug 1990 NYT article. Garages in the neighborhood were rented for storage space, and topiaries in various shapes, including a penguin, a bear, an elephant, a dinosaur, bowling pins, a pterodactyl, a ballerina, a horse, a dolphin, and Elvis Presley, were brought in. The manicured shrubs designed by master greensman Danny Ondrejko were made from chicken wire, metal, and plastic foliage.
       Edward’s scissor-hands were created by Stan Winston, as noted in a 21 Jan 1991 HR article, based on a drawing by Burton. Prosthetics with steel blades were made, as well as prosthetics with plastic duplicates that were “vacumetalized” to “look like chrome.” The 12 Aug 1990 LAT article noted that each blade was about ten inches long, and Johnny Depp used both metal and plastic versions during filming.
       Principal photography began in Florida on 26 Mar 1990, as stated in a 1 Mar 1990 DV brief, and finished 20 Jul 1990, according to the 11 Aug 1990 Screen International. A 1 Jun 1990 HR item noted that between $2-4 million dollars were spent in the Tampa area, where locations included Lakeland Mall and the Performing Arts Center. Although interiors of Edward Scissorhands’s gothic mansion were set to be filmed at a Universal Studios Florida soundstage, housing costs and logistical problems led filmmakers to relocate to a Twentieth Century Fox soundstage in Los Angeles, CA. Postproduction also took place on the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot.
       Although a late fall release was initially planned, according to the 26 Aug 1990 NYT, the film opened in nine cities on 7 Dec 1990. Prints were 70mm, with “six-track Dolby sound” as stated in the 14 Nov 1990 HR. The limited release was set to expand to 800 additional theaters on 14 Dec 1990, and, if successful, 400 more screens would be added on Christmas Day. The 21 Dec 1990 LAT reported that the film drew the “highest per-screen average of any film playing nationwide” the previous week.
       The film was a critical and box-office success, grossing over $53 million domestically, according to an 18 Jul 1991 LAT brief. Ve Neill and Stan Winston received Academy Award nominations for Best Makeup, and Johnny Depp received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
       Believing they were props used in the film, Warner LeRoy, owner of the Tavern on the Green restaurant in New York City’s Central Park, purchased eleven topiaries from James Elkind for $2,500, as stated in a 22 Mar 1993 New York item. Hoping to commission seven more, to be placed outside his restaurant, LeRoy contacted master greensman Danny Ondrejko, who informed LeRoy that the topiaries he purchased were not, in fact, props from the film. James Elkind later admitted the topiaries were from an opening-night party.
       Edward Scissorhands was adapted into a “dance drama” by Matthew Bourne, who debuted the show in London, England, in Dec 2005, according to a Var review dated 6 Dec 2005. Although Var panned the dance-theater effort as “jokey” and “somewhat glib,” the show eventually traveled to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles for a three-week stint in Dec 2006, as stated in a 10 Sep 2006 LAT item. According to a 27 Jun 2010 NYDN brief, British theater director Richard Crawford adapted the film into a stage play, which ran from 28 Jun--3 Jul 2010 at the Brooklyn Studio Lab in New York City.
      End credits include “Special Thanks” to: “Production Services and Systems, Inc.; I.A.T.S.E. Local 477, Florida; Teamster’s Local Union #79, Tampa, Florida; Florida Film Commission; Tampa Film Commission; Residents of Carpenters Run in Lutz, Florida, especially those living in Tinsmith Circle.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Mar 1990.
---
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1990
p. 2, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 1990
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1990
p. 7, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1991.
---
LA Weekly
23 Nov 1990.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
17 Dec 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1990
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 Dec 1990
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1990
Section D, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1991
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
10 Sep 2006
Calendar, p. 49.
New York
22 Mar 1993.
---
New York Daily News
27 Jun 2010
p. 35.
New York Times
26 Aug 1990
Section A, p. 18.
New York Times
7 Dec 1990
p. 1.
Screen International
25 Nov 1989.
---
Screen International
11 Aug 1990.
---
Variety
10 Dec 1990
p. 84.
Variety
6 Dec 2005.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
as The Inventor
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox Presents
A Tim Burton Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Louma crane op
Steadicam op
Chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy elec (L.A.)
Elec lamp op
Key grip
Grip best boy
Grip best boy (L.A.)
Dolly grip
2d grip
2d grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Illustrator
Art dept researcher
Art dept researcher
Art dept researcher
Art dept sculptor
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Set prod asst
Const coord
Gen const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Master greensman
Standby greensman
Asst greensman
Asst greensman
Asst greensman
Asst greensman
Paint supv
Const paint foreman
Const paint foreman
Const paint foreman
Head plasterer
Plasterer foreman
Plasterer gang boss
Topiary frame construction
Set dresser
Set dresser
Draperyman
Key model maker
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Women's key costumer
Men's key costumer
Women's ward
Textile artist
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Cond by
Mus scoring mixer
Scoring rec
Asst rec eng
Copyist
Contractor
Choral contractor
Organ mus by
Asst to Danny Elfman
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cableman (L.A.)
Cableman (L.A.)
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley by
Foley mixer
Foley ed
Spec sd eff
Sd eff rec
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec makeup and scissorhands eft prod by
Spec makeup and scissorhands eff created at
Art dept coord, Stan Winston Studio
Art dir, Stan Winston Studio
Mechanical dept coord, Stan Winston Studio
On set coord, Stan Winston Studio
On set coord, Stan Winston Studio
Eff dir of photog
Main title seq des by
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff prop shop
Visual eff
Visual eff
Spec eff prod asst
Supv video eng
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Art dept, Stan Winston's crew
Mechanical dept, Stan Winston's crew
Mechanical dept, Stan Winston's crew
Mechanical dept, Stan Winston's crew
Mechanical dept, Stan Winston's crew
Mechanical dept, Stan Winston's crew
Miniature eff provided by
Miniature eff, Stetson Visual Services, Inc.
Miniature eff, Stetson Visual Services, Inc.
Chief model maker
Stage crew chief
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Key model maker
Lead sculptor
Lead miniature spec eff
Lead model painter
Titles composited by
MAKEUP
Dept head makeup
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist for Dianne Wiest
Hair des by
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
Set hairdresser
Set hairdresser
Set hairdresser
Hair dresser for Dianne Wiest
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Tim Burton
Asst to Denise Di Novi
Asst to Richard Hashimoto
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Los Angeles prod liaison
Loc mgr
Casting assoc
Florida extra casting coord
Florida extra casting coord
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Blue Hawaii," composed by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
"It's Not Unusual," composed by Gordon Mills and Les Reed, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Delilah," composed by Les Reed and Barry Mason, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Blue Hawaii," composed by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
"It's Not Unusual," composed by Gordon Mills and Les Reed, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Delilah," composed by Les Reed and Barry Mason, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"With These Hands," composed by Benny Davis and Abner Silver, performed by Tom Jones, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 December 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 December 1990
Production Date:
26 March--20 July 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
13 December 1990
Copyright Number:
PA493701
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres; Cinema Digital Sound™ available at premiere theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30658
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a snowy night, an elderly woman tucks her granddaughter into bed. The girl asks why it snows, and the grandmother tells the story of a man with scissors for hands, who lived in a mansion at the top of a hill. She explains that an inventor created the man, whose name was Edward, but died before he was finished. Thus, Edward was left incomplete and alone. Many years earlier, Peg Boggs goes door-to-door selling Avon cosmetics to her neighbors, all of whom live in homogenous, pastel-colored houses. Unable to make a sale, Peg drives to the end of the street, where an out-of-place gothic mansion sits atop a hill. Trespassing onto the property, she discovers a garden full of beautifully manicured topiaries. Peg wanders inside the mansion and follows a metallic sound to the top floor, where parts of the roof have caved in. In the corner, Peg sees a cowering figure with scissors for hands. She starts to run, but he gently implores her not to go. She asks where his parents are, and he tells her his father “didn’t wake up.” Peg notices scars all over his face and dabs them with some astringent from her Avon sales kit. The young man identifies himself as Edward, and she offers to take him home with her. At the Boggs residence, Peg points out photographs of her husband, Bill, her son, Kevin, and her teenaged daughter, Kim. Edward stares longingly at Kim’s photograph, and Peg tells him that Kim will return from a trip in a few days. She gives Edward some of Bill’s old clothes, but he has a hard time dressing himself and accidentally snips the ... +


On a snowy night, an elderly woman tucks her granddaughter into bed. The girl asks why it snows, and the grandmother tells the story of a man with scissors for hands, who lived in a mansion at the top of a hill. She explains that an inventor created the man, whose name was Edward, but died before he was finished. Thus, Edward was left incomplete and alone. Many years earlier, Peg Boggs goes door-to-door selling Avon cosmetics to her neighbors, all of whom live in homogenous, pastel-colored houses. Unable to make a sale, Peg drives to the end of the street, where an out-of-place gothic mansion sits atop a hill. Trespassing onto the property, she discovers a garden full of beautifully manicured topiaries. Peg wanders inside the mansion and follows a metallic sound to the top floor, where parts of the roof have caved in. In the corner, Peg sees a cowering figure with scissors for hands. She starts to run, but he gently implores her not to go. She asks where his parents are, and he tells her his father “didn’t wake up.” Peg notices scars all over his face and dabs them with some astringent from her Avon sales kit. The young man identifies himself as Edward, and she offers to take him home with her. At the Boggs residence, Peg points out photographs of her husband, Bill, her son, Kevin, and her teenaged daughter, Kim. Edward stares longingly at Kim’s photograph, and Peg tells him that Kim will return from a trip in a few days. She gives Edward some of Bill’s old clothes, but he has a hard time dressing himself and accidentally snips the suspenders. Peg mentions that she knows a doctor who could help him with his hands and promises to mask his facial scars using Avon cosmetics. Nosy neighborhood women telephone to ask about Peg’s mysterious new guest, but she ignores their calls. At dinner, Peg’s son, Kevin, gawks as Edward attempts to use a fork, while her husband, Bill, engages him in conversation. Later, Peg tucks Edward into Kim’s waterbed and promises he will become acclimated. The next day, Bill prunes a shrub in the backyard while listening to a baseball game on the radio. Edward wanders outside and prunes another shrub, quickly shaping it into a dinosaur. Bill and Kevin look on in amazement, and Edward prunes more shrubs in the shape of each Boggs family member. Esmeralda, a religious zealot, wanders over from her house, and declares that Edward is from hell. Bill and Peg run her off, just as Peg’s friend Marge, the libidinous Joyce, overweight Helen, and other nosy neighbors show up at the front door. The women demand that Peg host a barbecue, and she reluctantly agrees. Later, at the barbecue, neighbors marvel at Edward’s topiaries. Joyce flirts with Edward and spoon-feeds him her ambrosia salad. Other women line up to feed him and beseech him to prune their shrubs. That night, Edward lies in Kim’s bed and recalls his inventor reading to him from an etiquette book. Kim returns home early and screams when she finds Edward in her room. He panics and pokes holes in the waterbed. Peg calms Kim, while Bill leads Edward to a pull-out couch in the basement. Soon, Edward’s topiaries line the neighborhood streets. Pruning yet another neighbor’s shrubs, Edward notices a poodle in need of grooming and gives the dog a stylized haircut. Neighbors line up for Edward’s dog grooming services, but Joyce demands that he cut her hair as well. Edward becomes the neighborhood hairstylist, giving women topiary-like hairstyles. He continues to be infatuated with Kim, whose brutish boyfriend, Jim, makes fun of Edward. Kim and Jim watch on television as Edward is interviewed on a local program. Audience members ask him questions, including whether or not he plans to get prosthetic hands. Edward does not answer, but when the host asks whether or not he has a girl friend, Edward stares into the camera. Kim watches him intently as he moves toward the microphone. When he touches the mic, he receives an electric shock, and Jim laughs. Joyce shows Edward an empty beauty salon where she wants to start a business with him. In a backroom, she attempts to seduce him, but he runs away. Bill encourages the salon idea, and Peg accompanies Edward to apply for a bank loan. The bank rejects him due to his lack of credit history. Meanwhile, Jim discovers that Edward can pick locks and devises a scheme to rob his own parents. A reluctant Kim talks Edward into helping them, and Jim lies that the house belongs to criminals who robbed his parents. Edward picks a lock to the room where Jim’s dad keeps his valuables, but the door closes behind him and an alarm goes off. Jim escapes with Kim, who does not want to abandon Edward. Later, Peg and Bill arrive to bail Edward out of jail. They assume he was trying to steal money for the salon. A psychiatrist determines that Edward never learned right from wrong, and charges are dropped. Jilted after her failed attempt at seduction, Joyce says she had a bad feeling about Edward, leading other neighbors to turn against him. The Boggs stand by him, however, and busy themselves preparing for their annual Christmas party. Kim thanks Edward for not implicating her or Jim. He admits he knew they were breaking into Jim’s house, but he did it for her. At dinner, Bill lectures Edward on ethics. He asks what he would do if he found a stranger’s money, and Edward says he would give it to loved ones, not the police. Kim defends his answer, claiming it is the nice thing to do. As Edward carves an ice sculpture for the Christmas party, Kim sees ice shavings floating through the air like snowflakes. She walks outside and twirls in the “snow,” but Jim appears, startling Edward and causing him to scrape Kim’s hand. Jim pushes Edward and calls him a freak. Edward stalks off, and Kim tells Jim she does not love him anymore. Edward vandalizes his topiaries and punctures the tire on a car, prompting neighbors to call police. Peg and Bill search for Edward, who returns to the Boggs home to find Kim alone. She asks him to hold her, but he says he cannot, and she embraces him instead. Edward recalls when his inventor presented him with human hands just before dropping dead, leaving him stuck with scissor hands. Outside, Kevin is almost hit by a car, but Edward saves him. Neighbors gather as Edward accidentally scrapes Kevin’s face. Jim emerges from the crowd and attacks Edward, whose scissor hand slices Jim’s arm. Kim urges Edward to run as police arrive. Edward retreats to his mansion. On the property, police officer Allen fires shots into the air, purposely allowing Edward to get away. Allen tells the neighbors that everything is taken care of, but Joyce does not believe him and leads a mob up the hill. Kim runs ahead, however, and finds Edward on the top floor. Jim shows up with a gun and tries to shoot Edward. The roof caves in, and Kim stops Jim’s attack by knocking him to the ground. In self-defense, Edward pierces Jim ‘s abdomen and pushes him out an open window. Jim falls to his death. Kim cries as Edward tells her goodbye. She kisses him and declares her love for him. On her way out, she picks up a scissor hand attached one of the inventor’s machines. As the angry mob discovers Jim’s body, Kim greets them and announces that Edward and Jim killed each other. She presents the scissor hand as evidence of Edward’s death. Many years later, the grandmother concludes her story, revealing that she is Kim. Her granddaughter asks if Edward is still alive. Kim does not know for sure, but it never snowed here before Edward carved the ice sculpture. Now, every time it snows, she attributes it to him. The granddaughter encourages her to see him again, but Kim prefers that Edward remember her the way she was. Meanwhile, at the mansion on the hill, an unchanged Edward carves ice sculptures, sending flurries of ice shavings into the air. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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