question of the day: Is there anything left to do with Dick Tracy?

There’s a legal dispute in progress over the rights to Dick Tracy. You know, the hard-boiled crime fighter your grandfather read in the funny papers when he was a kid:

Dick Tracy has landed in a Delaware bankruptcy court, as Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.’s Tribune Media Services filed suit late Thursday to clarify that it — and not Hollywood star Warren Beatty — owns the rights to the comic-strip crime-stopper.

People are actually fighting over the rights to this?

Tribune Co., which filed for Chapter 11 protection last December, wants a judge to confirm its unfettered rights to the iconic square-jawed detective, which it says are “worth, potentially, millions” to Tribune Co. and its creditors.

Millions? Someone thinks that?

Beatty, who acquired rights to the character from TMS in 1985 and made the 1990 movie “Dick Tracy” starring himself and Madonna, was required to produce another Tracy television or movie project to retain the rights, according to Tribune Co.

“Warren has always viewed Dick Tracy as a very valuable, interesting iconic character,” attorney Charles Shephard told Tribune Co.’s Los Angeles Times at that time. “He has all sorts of creative thoughts about what he might do with this character.”

Seriously? Is there anything left to do with Dick Tracy? Cuz I don’t see it if there is.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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eric-jon rössel waugh
eric-jon rössel waugh
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 1:29pm

I suppose if someone were to take the property seriously — do a Dark Knight to Beatty’s Tracy’s Batman & Robin — there might be some life in there. I’m not sure what it’s got going on, thematically, though.

C. David Dent
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 1:45pm

While the character is more-or-less played-out the name recognition alone does have value (potentially worth millions).

It could be re-imagined but I doubt it’ll be breaking new ground in Beatty’s hands and even less likely in Tribune’s hands.

Sell it to someone who’ll do something with it like Warren Ellis or Edgar Wright and then i’ll get excited. Right now, its like watching children hovering over a pinata that hasn’t been hit.

Ryan H
Ryan H
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 2:14pm

In many ways, I’d think most of the value is in the name recognition. For someone looking to get a movie made or a miniseries produced, it would be much easier to get people’s attention with an official ‘dick tracy’ script than ‘generic gangster script #487’. Also potentially easier to sign names and product deals for a recognized brand.

So, if it’s the name recognition is enough to get a movie made with a decent budget and recognized actors where as the same story without the name would sit in a slush pile then it is worth real money. Potentially millions.

Tue, Mar 24, 2009 3:08pm

Well, maybe now that cell phone technology has made wrist-radios a reality, they can market official Dick Tracy wrist-radio cell phones, maybe next to Official Original Star Trek flip-phones. >B)