Tim Burton gets his Frankenweenie out in London

This year's London Film Festival has Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman and the Rolling Stones – and it is bookended by one of the city's premiere cinematic couples.

Britain's biggest film showcase opened this week with the European premiere of London-based American director Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, the animated tale of a boy and his beloved – but dead – dog.

It ends on October 21 with Mike Newell's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, which stars Burton's partner, Helena Bonham Carter, as haunted Miss Havisham.

"It's a strange phenomenon,” Burton admitted on the red carpet. “I guess the planets are strangely aligned at the moment but it's obviously an honor to be here and to be opening the festival."

Burton and Bonham Carter will also each receive the British Film Institute Fellowship, a career achievement award, during an awards ceremony on October 20.

The honor has been bestowed in recent years on actors John Hurt and Ralph Fiennes, and directors David Cronenberg and Danny Boyle.

"I've been working here for many years and I love working here and living here so for me it's a real amazing honor," said the director. "Another surprise. It's nice to be surprised in life."

Frankenweenie - an expansion of Burton's 1984 live-action short of the same name – has been praised as a charmingly macabre, luscious-looking homage to Burton's filmmaking roots.

Combining state-of-the-art 3-D with old-fashioned stop-motion animation, it features Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau and Winona Ryder among its voice cast.

"Well Tim only makes things that interest him, and these are the things that he grew up with and fascinated him when he was a little kid growing up in Burbank. I think Edward Scissorhands and this film are closest to him," explained Landau.

"They're almost oddly autobiographical. You're talking about an A-list director who is entitled to make anything he wants to make. Not a lot of people get that opportunity."