As Hollywood legal battles go, it certainly hasn’t been as high profile as the one over the rights to Superman, but for several years now, Warren Beatty and the Trbiune Co. have been going back and forth over who owns the television and film rights to Chester Gould’s classic comic strip Dick Tracy. Late last week, a US District Court sided with Beatty’s contention that the actor/director/producer still retains the rights and has been acting within the confines of his original agreement with Tribune.
When Beatty bought the rights to the classic character back in the late 1980s, his deal was to control the film rights in perpetuity as long as he continued to make Dick Tracy projects. Tribune had the ability to put Beatty on a two-year probation period to get a new project in development and if no new project was started, the rights would revert back to them. In 2006, Tribune exorcised that two year option and Beatty began work on a television special on the character for Turner Classic Movies. Although scheduled for July 2009, the special never aired and Tribune turned down his request to extend his deadline to 2013.
The judge in the case ruled in favor of Beatty in part because the contract granting him the rights never specified that any Dick Tracy project had to be profitable.
So what does this mean for the average movie fan? Two things, really.
First off, Disney has no impediments to reissuing Beatty’s 1990 film on DVD and blu-ray. Long before 300 and Sin City, Beatty’s film pioneered the concept of recreating a comic’s look on the big screen, winning Academy Awards for Best Makeup and Art Direction- Set Design. Hopefully, they would even consider releasing Beatty’s original 135 minute cut of the film.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is the fact that Beatty intends on making a new Dick Tracy film. His lawyer confirmed it when remarking on the judge’s decision-
Warren’s goal is to do another major Dick Tracy project
Now granted, since he’ll be turning 74 this week, Beatty is probably not going to star in a new Tracy film. But since the 1990 version was his creative vision, it makes me anxious to see what he has in mind.
So who should star in a new Dick Tracy film? I’m thinking Jon Hamm would be great for the part.