Screenwriter John August Explains the Divisive Ending of 'Frankenweenie'

Screenwriter John August Explains the Divisive Ending of 'Frankenweenie'

Oct 08, 2012


If the title doesn't already make it clear enough, this post will contain huge spoilers about the ending of Frankenweenie. You've been warned.


Frankenweenie is a divisive film, which isn't exactly typical of kids movies. Then again, this is a black-and-white, stop-motion-animated kids film about the resurrection of dead pets directed by Tim Burton and written by John August. By virtue of its creative parents alone, Frankeweenie is going to be a little outside the box. But whether you hated it or loved it, there's one question that seems to overlap on both sides: What's up with that ending? Shouldn't Sparky have stayed dead?

Well, we decided to ask the film's screenwriter that very question. Regarding the ending, how contested was the decision to keep Sparky alive? Was there ever a version where he died?

John August: In every version ever conceived, Sparky lived. I don't think there was ever even a discussion about Sparky not living. To me, if you want to talk story theory, the protagonist of the movie is essentially the town, and at the start of the story the town is anti-science, and anti-Sparky, and anti- anything out out of the ordinary. At the end the town comes together to save Sparky. Given that, we need to have Sparky living at the end.

The second point I would make is that with any movie you're making a contract with the audience over what kind of stuff is going to happen. And with a kids movie, you're also making a contract with parents who are taking their kids to see this movie. We're already killing a dog once, we're not going to kill it twice and send you out of there with sobbing children. That wasn't the point of the movie, so I wanted to make sure people could leave the movie happy.


So there you have it. Not only did everyone feel it fit the story better, but they knew it wouldn't fly with parents. Does hearing the filmmakers' side of things change your opinion at all?

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