According to the Reuters report:
In "Sweeney Todd," to be released in late 2007, Depp will play the murderous barber of the same name who seeks his own brand of razor-slashing revenge against a judge who wrongfully imprisoned him. . . .
The legend of serial-killer Sweeney Todd is rooted in British lore, and has given rise to numerous earlier plays and films, including a 1936 film called "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and a 1998 TV movie, "The Tale of Sweeney Todd," starring Sir Ben Kingsley.
The new movie, which will be co-produced by DreamWorks and Warner Bros., will be adapted from the modern musical thriller "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," with songs originally composed by Sondheim. That version became a Broadway hit in 1979 and won 8 Tony awards.
Depp and Burton have worked together on several films that have been very successful with audiences and have received critical acclaim as well. Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, and The Corpse Bride stand out as very interesting and entertaining films.
Sweeney Todd was revived onstage in England two years ago and on Broadway last year, where the production won a Tony award. It has not yet been announced whether the musical numbers will be included in the film, but I would guess that they would.
Given the consistent themes of Burton's and Depp's past work together, one suspects that the two see Sweeney Todd as the story of another strange and disturbed but goodhearted underdog caught in violent and disorienting circumstances outside his control which make him act out in ways other people just don't understand. Whether a serial killer can be seen as fitting that description well is a matter to be resolved when we see the film.
From Karnick on Culture.