It’s star Johnny Depp’s and Tim Burton’s hotly anticipated next collaboration and movie. Seth Grahame-Smith, who made his Hollywood entry writing novels that put a macabre twist to literary classics and historical figures, recently snagged the high profile job of writing the new draft of the 1960s gothic daytime serial featuring the juicy role of vampire Barnabas Collins whom Depp has had a long obsession wanting to play. The film has been slated to begin production in January but today was pushed back to April. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK Films are producing along with Dick Zanuck. (It’s Zanuck’s 6th collaboration with Tim Burton.)

Warner Bros has been trying for several years to get to the starting line on this movie adaptation of the TV series that ran on ABC from 1966-1971 and had legions of fans frightened by the moody and atmospheric storyline. (Tim Burton May Push Back ‘Dark Shadows’ Start Date) Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid) was the central figure in the groundbreaking supernatural soap. Warner Bros purchased the film rights to the TV series from the estate of Dan Curtis (the creator, producer and director of Dark Shadows). As for Tim Burton’s version, John August was the first writer hired to script the project. Grahame-Smith got the job on the basis of his own bestselling novel, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The new start date seems to complicate Depp’s ability to co-star with Tom Hanks in director Kathryn Bigelow’s Triple Frontier. She has been courting Johnny for the drama that she will direct in February for Paramount Pictures. The picture (also known as Sleeping Dogs) about Latin American organized crime is scripted by Mark Boal, Bigelow’s accomplice on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Depp liked the role — and the idea of teaming with Hanks — but his participation was subject to working out scheduling issues. And since Johnny’s production company is making Dark Shadows, that project won dibbs on Depp. I hear Mark Wahlberg could be in 2nd position.