Batman (1989 film series)
Batman is a 1989 film series directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. Warner Bros. began producing the series towards the end of the 1980s, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman & Robin was poorly received by both the critics and the fans, leading to the cancellation of Batman Triumphant.
Tim Burton took over as director of the first Batman film in 1986. Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay. Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman before Michael Keaton was cast. Keaton was a controversial choice for the role since, by 1988, he had become typecast as a comedic actor and many observers doubted he could portray a serious role. Jack Nicholson accepted the role of the Joker under strict conditions that dictated a high salary, a portion of the box office profits and his shooting schedule. Nicholson's final salary is reported to be as high as $50 million. Principal photography took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989. The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million, while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. Rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems. Batman received highly positive reviews, broke numerous box office records, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film grossed over $400 million, and left a legacy over the modern perception of the superhero film genre.
Burton originally did not want to direct a sequel because of his mixed emotions over the previous film. Sam Hamm's first script had Penguin and Catwoman searching for hidden treasure. Daniel Waters delivered a script that satisfied Burton, which convinced him to direct the film. Wesley Strick did an uncredited rewrite, deleting characterizations of Harvey Dent and Robin and rewriting the climax. Various A-list actresses lobbied hard for the role of Catwoman before Michelle Pfeiffer was cast, while Danny DeVito signed on to portray the Penguin. Filming started at Warner Bros. in Burbank, California in June 1991. Batman Returns was released with financial success, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the film's box office run because it earned less than its predecessor. In addition, Batman Returns received a polarized reaction, particularly with a "parental backlash" which criticized the film for containing violence and sexual innuendos that were thought to be unsuitable for children. McDonald's shut down its Happy Meal tie-in for Batman Returns.
Although Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money. The studio decided to change the direction of the Batman film series to be more mainstream. Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as director, while Burton decided to stay on as producer. However, Michael Keaton did not like the new direction the film series was heading in, and was replaced by Val Kilmer as Batman. Chris O'Donnell was introduced as Robin, Jim Carrey starred as The Riddler, while Tommy Lee Jones starred as Two-Face. Filming started in September 1994, and Schumacher encountered problems communicating with Kilmer and Jones. Batman Forever was released on June 16, 1995 with financial success, earning over $350 million worldwide and three Academy Award nominations, but the film was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics.
Batman & Robin
After the release of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. started development on Batman & Robin, commissioning it on fast track for an adamant June 1997 release. Val Kilmer did not return, because of scheduling conflicts with The Saint, and was replaced by George Clooney. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Mr. Freeze, while Uma Thurman starred as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone starred as Batgirl. Chris O'Donnell reprised his role as Robin. Principal photography began in September 1996 and finished in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule. Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, and was panned by critics and audiences. Observers criticized the film for its toyetic and campy approach, and for homosexual innuendos added by Schumacher. Still, the film was a financial success, but remains to be the least commercially successful live-action Batman film ever. Batman & Robin received numerous nominations at the Razzie Awards and is considered to be one of the worst superhero films ever made.
During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies, prompting them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to reprise his directing duties for a third film. Writer Akiva Goldsman, who worked on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, turned down the chance to write the script. In late 1996, Warner Bros. and Schumacher hired Mark Protosevich to write the script for a fifth Batman film. A projected mid-1999 release date was announced. Titled Batman Triumphant, Protosevich's script had the Scarecrow as the main villain and the Joker would return as a hallucination in Batman's mind caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Harley Quinn appeared as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter trying to kill Batman to avenge her father's death. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl. Schumacher had also approached Nicolas Cage for the role of Scarecrow. However, when Batman & Robin received harsh reviews and failed to outgross any of its predecessors, Warner Bros. was unsure of their plans for Batman Triumphant. The studio decided it was best to consider a live-action Batman Beyond film and an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Warner Bros. would then greenlight whichever idea suited them the most. Schumacher felt he "owe[d] the Batman culture a real Batman movie. I would go back to the basics and make a dark portrayal of the Dark Knight." He approached Warner Bros. to do Batman: Year One in mid-1998.
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