Johnny Depp’s Weirdest Movie Becoming An Opera

Plan 9 from Outer Space, the movie recreated by Johnny Depp in Ed Wood, is being turned into an opera.

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Plan 9 from Outer Space, the 1957 science fiction B-movie recreated by Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in the 1994 biopic film Ed Wood, is being adapted as a full-blown opera. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie is being transformed into an opera by the classical composer and author Somtow Sucharitkul (also known as S.P. Somtow). Plan 9 from Outer Space is often marketed as “the worst movie ever made” and has become an icon of trash cinema since its rediscovery in the 1980s.

Many film fans are likely most familiar with Plan 9 from Outer Space via Ed Wood, which starred Johnny Depp as the titular film director and fictionalized his efforts to make what he intended to be a visionary science fiction film originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space. Somtow Sucharitkul is known as a B-movie fan, as well as a well-regarded author of science fiction, historical fantasy, and horror, as well as symphonies and other classical pieces. If anything, it is a little surprising that it has taken him this long to get around to adapting the film in some form. 

The opera version of Plan 9 from Outer Space is currently being developed (reportedly in the libretto, or text, stage at the moment) and Sucharitkul hopes to release a musical teaser for it sometime in 2023. The opera is being produced by Torsten Neumann, the director of the Oldenburg Film Festival. While Ed Wood reportedly had a daughter, it is not known if she is involved in the project. There is no indication that Johnny Depp or Tim Burton are themselves involved.

johnny depp
Ed Wood

Ed Wood was released after the triple success of Tim Burton’s Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and Batman Returns, at which point his commercial appeal began to wane. While the film won two Academy Awards (for Supporting Actor Martin Landau and Makeup Artist Rick Baker) and is regarded as one of Johnny Depp’s finest performances, it was a commercial flop. Much of the plot of the film involves the difficulties that Wood faced in producing Plan 9 from Outer Space, which involved difficulties with funding the movie, achieving the desired special effects, and the death of lead actor Bela Lugosi mid-production. 

To many, Plan 9 from Outer Space has come to be regarded as one of the most significant examples of movies so bad that they are enjoyable to watch and was significantly referenced in the 1990s, with Johnny Depp’s fictional portrayal of the director hitting right around the same time as it was centered in an episode of the hit NBC sitcom Seinfeld. Now, the film is achieving perhaps the greatest homage of all and being transformed into one of the most respected forms of art.

The Plan 9 from Outer Space adaptation will take its place alongside other operas based on feature films, including Howard Shore’s 2008 opera version of David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Olga Neuwirth and Elfriede Jelinek’s 2003 opera of David Lynch’s Lost Highway. It seems like there is no way Ed Wood’s work will ever really be forgotten.