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In news of the slightly absurd, Warren Beatty won a long court battle today over the rights to Dick Tracy. As you may or may not know, Beatty loves the Tracy franchise and has hoped to make more films about the character, despite the mild box office of his 1990 film. In recent years he’s been unable to do anything with Dick Tracy because of the legal hold ups.
Warren Beatty has managed to retain the TV and movie rights to the Dick Tracy franchise. Beatty sued Tribune Co. in 2009 over the rights when Tribune tried to take them back from him after Beatty purchased the rights in the 1980s. A U.S. District Judge granted Beatty the rights, saying that a small television program he did with Leonard Maltin was enough activity for him to retain the franchise.

Beatty starred as Tracy in a 1990 big-budget film.

Beatty himself turns 74 at the end of this month, so it seems unlikely if he does decide to put the character back to film, that he’d star. The question is, where would a Dick Tracy film even go these days? The original movie was an all star cast and despite some minor grievances here or there, really did a lot with the character. Would Beatty try to modernize the character or would he try to take a Zach Snyder route of making the film even more like a “living” comic book?

That was something that was tried to mixed success in the original 1990 film. This lawsuit victory gives us more questions than answers, but it finally does allow Warren Beatty to do something, anything, with the franchise. Who would you like to see in a Dick Tracy film and how would you like to see it done?

8 Responses to Warren Beatty Wins Dick Tracy Rights

  • Rob_Mac says:

    I wonder how nervous studios are going to be to touch this property, especially after the lackluster performances of similar films, like The Spirt, The Shadow, The Phantom and The Green Hornet. Something tells me they might be sitting on this property for a while.

    Maybe it would do better as a TV series, or as a comic book? Get Alex Ross to do the art and have Dynamite Studios release it? Maybe that is a better way to test the waters than another film.

  • I guess he only owns the TV and movie rights, Tribune still has the comic rights. Which is how they've been able to keep the comic running in various formats.

    I'd think a TV series might be the way to go. If you could somehow infuse a gritty crime drama, with some comic elements, you'd be on to something. Of course Dick Tracy skews really older demos I'd think and for this show to work it'd have to be hip and on the CW… Dick Tracy and "hip" don't really go hand in hand, though.

  • Rexplode says:

    I could see a Dick Tracy cartoon working well, I know I loved the movie as a kid and that was with no prior knowledge of the characters.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    This is great news. The comic strip is entering a new era with veteran DC artist Joe Staton taking over the art, so I could see Beatty going with this as a start. Tracy is the kind of character that can be adapted to modern times without losing the appeal that made him a classic. I mean, look: He's a cop who fights bizarre-looking characters. I'm sure Beatty will find a new way to make Tracy popular like he did with his film.

  • Mecha-Shiva says:

    CG pixar movie,so maybe Beatty can voice Dick Tracy like how the Spirit should have been done without losing all the colors and zany cartoonish stunts not look forced on live action.

  • clark says:

    The 1990 movie was not great, but I think enough was right with it that I think this is good news. If I remember correctly, Beatty had a lot to do with how that movie looked and how it came out (someone could correct me on that if I'm wrong though). Considering what a big fan he is I doubt he would modernize it much. Now I'm curious if it would be treated as a period piece (I'm thinking L.A. Confidential, but with Dick Tracy and characters), or a living comic, which might be more like Sin City.

  • Yeah thats one of the things I was pondering above. People like Dick Tracy because of the ridiculous villains, but at the same time it's hard to present that and make it work. Lord knows they tried in the 1990 movie.

  • Well that would definitely work. It would also free them up to do some of the more outlandish elements of Dick Tracy… Like all that nonsense about the moon. Most people try to forget that Dick Tracy used to go back and forth to the moon.

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