In 1990, every Hollywood Studio was looking for the next Batman – a tentpole movie that wouldn’t just sell a lot of tickets but could also be marketed out the wazoo. Disney was pretty sure they had exactly that with their big summer release, Dick Tracy. They had a big star/director in Warren Beatty, a pop culture sensation in Madonna and a character who had stood the test of time like the Dark Knight. Not to mention a cast that included all of Beatty’s famous Hollywood friends.
The road to the big screen was a long one. The June issue of Movieline documented all of the project’s false starts, delays, struggles and law suits.
In 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman was a phenomenon. So it seemed like a given that the summer of 1990 would belong to Warren Beatty’s comic-strip adventure, Dick Tracy. The movie boasted big stars like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and of course Beatty himself. Also like Batman, Dick Tracy had an eye-popping visual style. Throw in original songs written by Stephen Sondheim and a promotional tour by the Material Girl and Dick Tracy seemed like a can’t miss blockbuster. Disney revved up the merchandise machine and prepared to count the money as it rolled in. But despite a massive marketing push, Dick Tracy didn’t become the phenomenon it seemed destined to be.
Few actresses embody the concept of a “missed opportunity” as well as Sean Young. For a time, she seemed to be the next big A-list star. A leading lady for the 80s. Young herself has compared herself more than once to Julia Roberts. But somehow, she never became America’s Sweetheart. We’ve already examined what happened to her. So now, it’s time to look at what might have been.
In journalism classes, they teach you never to refer to something as “first annual”. No matter how good the intentions, sometimes events that are planned as annual never have a second installment. The same is true in movies. Some films were clearly intended to launch long-lasting franchises but act two never came.
What follows is a cautionary tale about what can happen when a franchise dies out after the first installment.