Sweeney Todd Opening Wide Dec. 21

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DreamWorks and Paramount have decided to release director Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical Sweeney Todd wide on December 21, versus a platform release.

Variety says the original plan was to give the film a limited release on the 21st and then go wide on Jan. 11, the thought being that the Johhny Depp-starrer is less commercial and less accessible than most musicals because of its darker storyline. Along those lines, a platform opening would provide a chance to build buzz.

However, when DreamWorks executives began seeing clips from the film, they realized it had far broader appeal, particularly with Depp starring as the revenge-seeking barber of Fleet Street who uses his blade in gruesome ways to seek justice for the deaths of his wife and child.

The hope is that “Sweeney” will be the sort of signature role for Depp that Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise was.

DreamWorks and Warner Bros. are partners on “Sweeney,” with DreamWorks/Paramount handling domestic. Warners will release the musical overseas.

Also opening wide on Dec. 21 are Disney’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Warner Bros.’ P.S., I Love You, and Sony’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

The studios aren’t likely to go out with “Sweeney,” which is expected to receive an R rating, on more than 1,500 screens.