Dumbo: Tim Burton Directs Disney’s Misfit Fable

Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo opens this weekend in theaters, 72 years after Disney’s classic animation, about a baby elephant with fantastical ears, first played on the big screen and broke the hearts of generations of filmgoers.

The family film wrestle the box office crown from holdover Us with a domestic debut of $50 million or more for Disney, according to prerelease tracking.

Dumbo is opening simultaneously in virtually every major foreign market, including China.

The movie has divided critics–its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 54 percent.

But critics had no impact on Burton’s previous Disney movies. The live-action Alice in Wonderland, which had a 51 percent score, grossed $1.02 billion at the global box office in 2010.

Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green star in Dumbo, which tells the story of a crumbling circus whose troubles are compounded when a baby elephant is declared a laughingstock because of the pachyderm’s abnormally large ears.

But when the troupe discovers the animal can fly, the circus makes a comeback. Enter a persuasive entrepreneur with not-so-nice intentions.

Arcade Fire performs the iconic song “Baby Mine” for the end credits of Dumbo.

Burton was last in theaters in 2016 with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, from Fox (now defunct).

Disney’s outsider-misfit fable is considered to be a perfect fit for director Tim Burton. That ear-flapping baby pachyderm is a weirdo, just like the director.

“It’s my story as an animator, it’s my problem as well. It’s a two-way street, right?” Burton said in a recent interview. “At Disney, they like me, but I get paid to be the slightly accepted weirdo.”

Working with “Transformers” writer Ehren Kruger, Burton was attracted to the sad but joyful tale of a post-World War I circus with a baby elephant that, thanks to his enormous floppy ears, can fly.

“I felt for that kind of character from the get-go.  I tried to keep what I loved about it, the image of this character who doesn’t quite fit in being devoured by a large family multi-entertainment company.

“The old Disney movies used to give you everything: joy, happiness, sadness, death, fear. The kids would run screaming out of ‘Pinocchio.’ Nowadays people go, ‘Oh, it’s still too scary.’”