Remember When... 'Edward Scissorhands' Introduced Us to Johnny Depp's Weirdness?

Remember When... 'Edward Scissorhands' Introduced Us to Johnny Depp's Weirdness?

Dec 10, 2015

One of the numerous magic touches in Edward Scissorhands is that the title character, created in a lab by a mad scientist, never ages. Poor Winona Ryder turns into a grandma, but there's Eddie at the end of the movie, still up in that castle, still in his 20s. 

Well, not to rub it in, but as of this week, Edward Scissorhands (the movie) is 25 years old. If you remember seeing it in theaters, then unlike Edward, You're Old®. 

Like many good things in life, we can thank Batman for Edward Scissorhands. Not for its existence, maybe, but for its existence in its current form. Tim Burton began developing the story (which he'd conceived as an outcast teenager) with screenwriter Caroline Thompson while he was still working on Beetlejuice (1988), with one hit (Pee-wee's Big Adventure[1985]) already under his belt. 20th Century Fox set a tentative budget of around $9 million for Edward Scissorhands, and the project joined the list of options the studio had. As is the nature of Hollywood, there was no guarantee it would happen anytime soon, or at all. 

Then Batman (1989) came out, made $411 million worldwide, and made Tim Burton the cock of the walk (metaphorically speaking). Now Fox had a new Tim Burton policy, and that policy was to let him do whatever he wanted for as much money as he needed. Of all the things he could have done next, he chose Edward Scissorhands, and he got a budget of $20 million for it. (The film eventually made $86 million worldwide.) He had complete creative control, too, which might not have happened without his new Bat-earned clout. 

By the way, if you can remember a time when you could count on everything Tim Burton did to be good, You're Old®.

Speaking of things that are old now, Edward Scissorhands was our first exposure to Johnny Depp's weird shtick. The Kentucky-born imp had small roles in the hits A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Platoon (1986), and a big role in the flop Cry-Baby (1990), and of course he was a heartthrob for his work on 21 Jump Street (1987-91). But it wasn't till he and Tim Burton joined their separate halves of the magical amulet (we're guessing) that Depp's capacity for creative oddness came to light. Depp and Burton have now made eight films together, ranging from the delightful to the merciless (i.e., Alice in Wonderland). 

Back then, of course, we weren't yet tired of Depp, Burton, or the Depp-Burton partnership. Edward Scissorhands was warmly received by most critics, and audiences ate it right up. Its makeup was even nominated for an Oscar, though it lost to Dick Tracy. Watching it now, the film's dark, whimsical innocence is beguiling. It hasn't aged a day. Unlike the rest of us. 


When Edward Scissorhands was released, on Dec. 7, 1990...

- It was a tiny opening at first, just two theaters, but it made huge money -- $80,000 per theater. (It went into wide release the following week and ultimately made $56 million in the U.S., or about $111 million at 2015 prices.) Home Alone was the top film in the country, as it had been for three weeks and would be for another eight. Also at the multiplex: MiseryThe RookieDances with WolvesThree Men and a Little LadyPredator 2Rocky 5, and -- still doing brisk business after 21 weeks in theaters -- Ghost.

- On your way to the theater in your mullet and your acid-washed jeans, you might have rocked out to these radio hits of the day: "Because I Love You," by Stevie B; "I'm Your Baby Tonight," by Whitney Houston; "From a Distance," by Bette Midler; "Something to Believe In," by Poison; "Groove Is in the Heart," by Deee-Lite; "The Way You Do the Things You Do," by UB40; or "Tom's Diner," by Suzanne Vega. 

- The pop duo known as Milli Vanilli had admitted 10 days earlier that they hadn't actually sung the songs on their multi-million-selling album. They had to give their Grammy back, which was very embarrassing, as it meant someone had given them a Grammy in the first place. 

- The super-dirty video for Madonna's "Justify My Life" had recently been banned by MTV. No joke, Nightline aired it instead, then grilled Madonna about it. 

- Tim Berners-Lee, who would come to be known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, was two weeks away from finishing tests for the first webpage. Surprisingly, the first webpage was not porn. 

- Newly reunified Germany had held its first elections five days earlier, with Helmut Kohl victorious as the new Chancellor. As Americans, we're not super familiar with what a "chancellor" does, but it does sound like something that a man named Helmut would be good at. 

- Jonathan Lipnicki (the kid from Jerry Maguire) and Sarah Hyland (the oldest daughter on Modern Family) were both newborns, and that David Archuleta kid from American Idol still had three weeks in the womb. They're all 25 now. A quarter-century. Same age as Edward Scissorhands. UGH. 










Categories: Features, Movie Nostalgia
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