Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

Moderators: Scott Sebring, Ben Bentley

User avatar
High C
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:01 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C »

Dr. Shimel wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:01 am Simple Batman math: A-Listers cost serious $$ + Dozier was cheap = Absolutely no chance of happening.
I know what you're saying, but he did pay Adam $100K for the movie, a fair price for a movie lead at the time.

The combined salary of the villains, including the horrible lowball price of $5500 for Lee, was about $65K. Combine that with whatever 'walking-away' money they paid Julie, and they probably paid about $70K for villains. Granted, using that money and then prying another $30K from Dough-zier to make it an even $100K for an A-lister wouldn't have been easy, but WD might have more than made it up at the box office. Clearly, mainstream audiences weren't forking over money to see a bunch of what they considered TV performers.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
User avatar
Mark Racop
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:51 pm

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Mark Racop »

Keith, everyone repeats that the Batman movie was supposed to come before the series, but I don't think it was ever verified that it was going into production, or that the script was even written. There are others that know the production history like the back of their hands, so hopefully they will chime in.
User avatar
Keith Mayo
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:52 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Keith Mayo »

Yes, it has been often repeated. I've found "the movie was supposed to be shot first as advertisement for the tv series" articles in several places. Here are just a few:

Cinefantastique Feb 1994, p. 55
The Official Batbook, p. 139
Gotham City 14 Miles, "Theater of the Absurd" p. 214

On p. 55 of Cinefantastique, Bob Garcia (who co-authored the "Celebration" huge coffee table book) wrote that the outline of the film was written by Semple before he ever came out to Hollywood, and before contracts were even signed. He also states that Fitzsimons was a firm believer that it should have been filmed are released while the first season was being shot. Richard Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, wouldn't give the go ahead to do so. This was apparently due his not liking the script. I scanned the article but couldn't get it to attach here (too big).

Interestingly enough, a letter discussing the details of a contract for Semple to write the screenplay is dated March 10th 1966 - two months after the show first aired. Notice the first sentence mentioning "the approval of Zanuck".
Attachments
img022.jpg
"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11
User avatar
Keith Mayo
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:52 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Keith Mayo »

High C wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:30 am
Dr. Shimel wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:01 am Simple Batman math: A-Listers cost serious $$ + Dozier was cheap = Absolutely no chance of happening.
I know what you're saying, but he did pay Adam $100K for the movie, a fair price for a movie lead at the time.

Speaking of salaries, notice RIchard Zanuck's hand written note on the bottom of this memo.
Attachments
img020.jpg
"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11
User avatar
High C
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:01 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C »

Keith Mayo wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:56 pm
High C wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:30 am
Dr. Shimel wrote: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:01 am Simple Batman math: A-Listers cost serious $$ + Dozier was cheap = Absolutely no chance of happening.
I know what you're saying, but he did pay Adam $100K for the movie, a fair price for a movie lead at the time.

Speaking of salaries, notice RIchard Zanuck's hand written note on the bottom of this memo.
Wow, that's interesting. It appears Adam's reps used the time-tested method of asking for something ridiculous and then settling for what they really wanted, or at least something close to it.

Per wikipedia, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis each made $125K for The Great Race the year before. Unlike those two, Adam wasn't a film star, so $100K was reasonable for both sides, I think.

The $35K Burt got, maybe not so reasonable for both sides.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
User avatar
John Mack
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by John Mack »

Holy Hollywood hardball, Batman!
Music. BAT! Music.
Mr.Freeze
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:11 pm

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Mr.Freeze »

Eastwood was prolly filming GBU when the Batman feature was being filmed , spring '66......Parker wouldve charged $$$ for Elvis , No way would Dozier get Presley on the cheap :|

They released 2 Avengers "films" (shows edited together) , one in France and one in Germany (german version is MIA but it did happen as both posters/lobbys were made)
User avatar
Bob Furmanek
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Bob Furmanek »

Eastwood was quite busy when the feature was in production: from Variety, May 19 1966.
Eastwood May 19.JPG
Eastwood May 19.JPG (30.67 KiB) Viewed 2336 times
User avatar
High C
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:01 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C »

For a Few Dollars More

Clearly not a Greenway production. :D

Try the veal, folks, I'll be here all week.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
User avatar
SprangFan
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:34 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by SprangFan »

I think the question's a bit misleading. As you explain it, "should they have cast an A-list star" translates to "should they have jettisoned the four-baddie plot to focus on one big villain," or in other words, "should they have started over from scratch?"

The real problems with this film were (1) as noted there were already a bunch of "TV to film" movies out there that just recycled episodes, and people were probably tired of getting burned (though I know some real fans of the UNCLE films). And (2) by now everyone knew what Batman was and were mostly over it. The fad had already peaked. Had the film come first, maybe it would have been a phenomenon like the first season, but it didnt play out that way.

If you'd cast a big star for prestige, it wouldn't have made the one-joke concept of Batman any fresher, and had you abandoned the spirit of the show, you might have upset the children who by this point would have been the majority of viewers.

This one's just too out-there hypothetical to even imagine for me. Who knows?
Image
User avatar
High C
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:01 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C »

SprangFan wrote: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:19 pm I think the question's a bit misleading. As you explain it, "should they have cast an A-list star" translates to "should they have jettisoned the four-baddie plot to focus on one big villain," or in other words, "should they have started over from scratch?"

The real problems with this film were (1) as noted there were already a bunch of "TV to film" movies out there that just recycled episodes, and people were probably tired of getting burned (though I know some real fans of the UNCLE films).
But that's my point. Casting a 'film star' as the villain makes it clear this isn't just another 'TV to film' movie.
and had you abandoned the spirit of the show, you might have upset the children who by this point would have been the majority of viewers.
This is a valid point. My answer would be as long as you keep enough derring-do in it, and enough gadgets, and enough adventure, you wouldn't lose the younger audience. let's face it, even during the actual movie, I'm sure a lot of young boys in the audience were rolling their eyes and saying, 'holy mush' during the Bruce/Kitka scenes.
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
User avatar
dell
Posts: 0
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:12 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by dell »

I think the original question is a valid one, but what if they had actually done it? The way they did the movie is like an extended Batman episode, but with lots of gadgets and four villains teaming up. It was a significant change from the show, but really still within the formula established in the series. Now if they had used a real movie star would they have set the bar too high for the second season? Would first time viewers of Batman having only gone to the movie subsequently tune into the second season have been disappointed? Would regular viewers have been disappointed to just go back to the usual stuff after seeing the movie? Could this have caused an even faster downward spiral?
dell
User avatar
Therin of Andor
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:46 pm

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by Therin of Andor »

For me, as an avid fan of the TV show in Australia (it started airing mid 1967, on Sunday and Tuesday nights) who had no idea about the movie's existence, the intriguing thing about the Topp's/Scanlen's "Bat Laffs" trading gumcards was that the images depicted an unseen episode.

We kept wondering when the four arch villains were going to meet up, as in the gum cards! (All those colourful labels on the shelving at the villains' HQ: "Jokes", "Riddles", "Penguin Food", "Cat Food"...)

I do have a memory of seeing the movie's daybill poster on my local railway station in the early 70s, for a retro screening at the nearby theatre, but it wasn't until about 1982 that I finally caught the movie being played on TV - and a friend had to video it for me because my first Beta machine was being repaired that week!

An A-lister as a star? But they'd have overshadowed the Dynamic Duo.
"Holy nostalgia, Batman!"
Therin of Andor

(aka Ian McLean, from Sydney, Australia)
User avatar
SprangFan
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:34 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by SprangFan »

Honestly, I don't think casting an A-list star would have made much difference in terms of box office. People wouldn't have said, "Wait, this Batman has Charlton Heston in it? Well that's different, count me in!" More likely they'd have said, "Heston's doing Batman? That's tough, I thought his career was going so well..."

People knew by this point what "Batman" was and they'd either go or not based on that prejudgement. If people didn't like it, it wasn't because it wasn't "prestigious enough," it was because it was silly and "for kids."

You'd have had your work cut out for you trying to talk an A-lister into it anyway. I know all the stories about stars scrambling for so much as a window cameo, but largely we're talking about B-listers and former "names" whose next stop was the Love Boat(Van Johnson, Art Carney) or the Great Beyond (Sanders, Bankhead). I love how much Meredith and Romero threw themselves into their roles, but some of them, like Rudy Vallee, give the vibe of, "hey, kids! I was famous once! Ask your grandma!" These folks would have signed on to any popular show regardless of format of it meant another hour in the spotlight (again see:"Love Boat").

Big name stars can show up in superhero films today without suffering (indeed they need to if they want work,since it feels like 75% of all films are comic-based), but in 1966 it would have been career suicide.
Image
User avatar
High C
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:01 am

Re: Did the '66 movie need an A-list star?

Post by High C »

A lot of what you say is valid, but I disagree with this:
SprangFan wrote: Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:47 am Big name stars can show up in superhero films today without suffering (indeed they need to if they want work,since it feels like 75% of all films are comic-based), but in 1966 it would have been career suicide.
Cliff Robertson appeared in two separate arcs on the show and won an Oscar for the 1968 film, Charly. It certainly didn't destroy his career.

I'd also add that TV historian Martin Grams wrote that, according to Dozier's correspondence, Rod Steiger was interested in playing a villain. He certainly was a big name in films at the time.

http://martingrams.blogspot.com/2011/05 ... eries.html
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
Post Reply