By Joy Piedmont
December 12, 2007 at 04:00 PM EST

When Sweeney Todd hits theaters on December 21, I wonder how many people will be aware that it is an adaptation of a popular musical — a musical so full of singing that it is occasionally performed by opera companies. The TV spots for Sweeney are doing their best to make the film look like SleepyBeetleScissorhands: emphasizing Johnny Depp’s gothic look (the hair helps), the Danny Elfman-esque score, and Tim Burton’s name prominently displayed at the beginning of every spot. If I didn’t know that this was a Stephen Sondheim show, I might disregard the brief snatches of song in some of the ads as a campy Corpse Bride/Beetle Juice type of thing. The commercial below is a typical example:

Now, compare the non-musical spot with the following “Broadway!” version:

All of sudden, Tim Burton’s name is relegated to the oddly upbeat voice-over describing the film as the “holiday event of the season” while Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter sing and dance. I haven’t seen this one on TV yet — I’d be interested to see what kind of shows it gets attached to.

The commercials that hide the singing are crafty enough that they might lure a good number of unsuspecting folks just looking for another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film. The real puzzle is whether or not they will like what they see and hear. Sweeney is no doubt a great match for Burton’s sensibilities, but most people don’t take kindly to being tricked.

Are you planning to see Sweeney? How would you feel if you showed up for a bloody, horror/comedy and got the following scene instead?