Why Dick Tracy 2 Did Not Happen

1990’s Dick Tracy is one of those films some people love, and some people hate. On one side, people view it as an underwelming attempt at copying Batman‘s success. Conversely, the film has its fans.

Disney’s Batman

Comparisons between Dick Tracy and 1989’s Batman are inevitable. Both were beloved comic book icons with colorful villains. Tim Burton got Jack Nicholson to play the Joker. Warren Beatty got Al Pacino to play Big Boy Caprice. Batman had a soundtrack by Prince. Dick Tracy had a soundtrack by Madonna (who starred in the movie and was dating Beatty at the time).

Also, Danny Elfman scored both films. Not only that, but his score for Dick Tracy sounds similar to his iconic Batman score.

The 1989 Batman film was a gargantuan success, largely due to promotion. In preparation for the blockbuster, t-shirts, video games and toys were everywhere. Disney attempted to emulate the success of Batman with Dick Tracy.

Like Batman, Dick Tracy had action figures, games and even similar logos.

This film is almost a time capsule. Nowadays, EVERY blockbuster has a promotional blitz.

The film wasn’t a complete copy of Batman. Warren Beatty brought a few things to the table. Both films attempted unique art styles. However, Dick Tracy’s look is something else. The color scheme is filled with greens, purples, reds, and of course yellow. Almost every shot could be framed as a work of art.

Also, while Batman only Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Dick Tracy had dozens of villains. Pruneface, Mumbles, Shoulders, and many others make appearances at one point or another. Why so many villains? Beatty went for broke because he wasn’t sure if there would be a sequel. (Ah, how times have times have changed.)

Not only that, but the makeup looks amazing. Plus, the film boasted big-name actors in cameos or supporting roles – Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, James Caan, Dick Van Dyke among others.

Not a hit?

Despite Disney’s attempt at emulating Batmania, Dick Tracy wasn’t the hit they wanted.

Critics were mixed on this film. Although Warren Beatty was great at directing epics such as Reds, his directing style didn’t completely click in a blockbuster. Much less a PG, kid-friendly one. (Again, times have changed.)

Also, Beatty is good at playing smarmy characters (See Bugsy and Bulworth). He may have had the look, but Beatty was not the best at a white meat, clean-cut hero.

1990’s Dick Tracy had a budget of $46 million. The film earned $162 million.

That may sound like a good payday, but Disney perceived it as a flop. The company got a hit when they were expecting a Batman-level megahit. Jeffery Katzenberg also said that promotion for the film cost over $100 million.


Despite being considered a disappointment, the film has a legacy.

The film won three Academy Awards. These included a well-deserved Best Makeup Oscar. However, the film was also nominated for four other Oscars including a polarizing Best Supporting Actor nomination for Al Pacino.

The soundtrack I’m Breathless by Madonna was arguably more successful than the film. The album featured songs from the film by acclaimed songwriter Stephen Sondheim – who wrote the Oscar-winning “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)“.

However, the album also included “Vogue“. The song “Vogue” inspired a dance craze at the time and remains popular to this day.

Why No Sequel?

The lack of a sequel actually has less to do with Disney and more to do with Beatty.

Beatty purchased the rights to Dick Tracy in 1985 from Tribune Media. Tribune Media has been trying to get Dick Tracy off the ground with both TV and comic re-boots. However, Warren Beatty has shot down any attempts for that to happen.

At 80 years of age, Beatty still hopes to make a Dick Tracy sequel. Because of the contract, Beatty made a short film The Dick Tracy Special in 2010. In it, Warren Beatty stays in character as he is interviewed by Leonard Maltin. Beatty produced this merely as a way to maintain his rights.

More and more Dick Tracy 2 seems less likely.

Beatty has always had a reputation as a difficult director and actor. His film Town & Country went over budget. He turned down the title role in Kill Bill because he clashed with Quentin Tarantino.

He often prefers taking his time with films. As both an actor and director, he has lengthy gaps in his resume. Also, while his films are often critical successes, many of them – including last year’s Rules Don’t Apply – have not been box office hits.

Regardless of issues, Beatty still wants to make Dick Tracy. He said so as recently as last year.

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