A Few Words About A few words about...™ Dick Tracy -- in Blu-ray

MielR

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JoshZ said:
Dick Tracy didn't use bleach bypass, though, did it? I can't imagine that it did. Doesn't have that look at all.
I agree, but from the description of the process, it almost sounds like a way to photochemically approximate the look of a Technicolor Dye-Transfer print..? (except for the increased grain & contrast part). Don't Technicolor prints have a black register-type image printed underneath the color dyes? I think I read somewhere once that Beatty was going for that Technicolor look and would have loved to have Technicolor IB prints made.
 

Mark Oates

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From Wikipedia:
In the early days of the process, the un-exposed blank receiver film would be pre-exposed with a 50% black-and-white image derived from the green strip, the so-called Key, or K, record. This process was used largely to cover up fine edges in the picture where colors would mix unrealistically (also known as fringing). This additional black increased the contrast of the final print and concealed any fringing. However, overall colorfulness was compromised as a result. In 1944, Technicolor had improved the process to make up for these shortcomings and the K record was, therefore, eliminated.
Maybe the effect he was trying to achieve was more of a comic-book style? Bleach bypass would give you basically a black and white movie with a colour overlay. If the colours were oversaturated, that would make the effect even more pronounced.
 

MielR

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Mark Oates said:
From Wikipedia:
In the early days of the process, the un-exposed blank receiver film would be pre-exposed with a 50% black-and-white image derived from the green strip, the so-called Key, or K, record. This process was used largely to cover up fine edges in the picture where colors would mix unrealistically (also known as fringing). This additional black increased the contrast of the final print and concealed any fringing. However, overall colorfulness was compromised as a result. In 1944, Technicolor had improved the process to make up for these shortcomings and the K record was, therefore, eliminated.
Interesting- I've never heard that before. I'd always assumed the process stayed mostly the same until color negatives came around.
 

Reggie W

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This one is on my weekend viewing list for the long weekend. I have not seen the film other than seeing it at what I believe was a preview screening just prior to releasing it into cinemas. The ticket for this showing was a t-shirt with the movie logo printed inside an outline shaped like a ticket, I believe, which was mailed out in advance of the showing. They had sent me three or four of them so I brought my brother and father along. I think my father still has the t-shirts in their plastic wrapping...we never opened them despite being encouraged to wear them to the showing. I remember my dad saying as we left "Boy, that Beatty did a helluva job with that!"
 

Richard V

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I figured this was to become a franchise with multiple sequels to follow. Surprised they never did at least one more.
 

Chuck Anstey

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Richard V said:
I figured this was to become a franchise with multiple sequels to follow. Surprised they never did at least one more.
From what I remember at the time, this movie bombed big time.
 

JoshZ

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Chuck Anstey said:
From what I remember at the time, this movie bombed big time.
In fact, it did pretty well. $46 million budget, $103 million domestic gross with another $60 million overseas. That's a tidy profit.

The problem is that Disney expected it to be a mega-hit like Batman the year before, and it couldn't live up to that. Especially not in the area of merchandising. Batman was an unstoppable merchandise juggernaut. Disney tried to emulate that by cranking out Dick Tracy action figures, T-shirts, etc. Unfortunately, those all proved to be duds.
 

FrancisP

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It was not as profitable as that. Including marketing, the budget was around $100 million. The film did turn a profit when you figure in theaters and home video but the profits were likely not that large. Also the fact that Dick Tracy did not make it into Disney's theme parks shows that it was not seen as a huge hit.
Also the studio head at the time, Jeffrey Katenberg said "We made demands on our time, talent and treasury that, upon reflection, may not have been worth it,".

Beatty has talked about a sequel however the character has been tied up in litigation over the rights between Beatty and Tribune Media. This apparently was settled a year and a half ago. He talked abougt it a year ago however apparently nothing has been done on it.
 

JoshZ

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FrancisP said:
It was not as profitable as that. Including marketing, the budget was around $100 million. The film did turn a profit when you figure in theaters and home video but the profits were likely not that large. Also the fact that Dick Tracy did not make it into Disney's theme parks shows that it was not seen as a huge hit.
Also the studio head at the time, Jeffrey Katenberg said "We made demands on our time, talent and treasury that, upon reflection, may not have been worth it,".
As I said, Katzenberg and Disney invested in the movie expecting it to be a Batman-sized mega hit. By that measure, it was a failure for them, even if it turned a profit.

Remember, in those days, it was still a rarity for any movie to break $100 million at the domestic box office. Dick Tracy was a Top 10 box office earner for 1990. And that was a hugely competitive year, with movies like Total Recall, Die Hard 2, The Hunt for Red October, Pretty Woman, Dances with Wolves, Ghost and Home Alone. It outgrossed expected blockbusters like Back to the Future III, Godfather III, Another 48 Hours and Days of Thunder. It would have been considered a big sucess if not for the unrealistic expectations placed upon it.

In any case, it certainly wasn't a bomb.
 

FrancisP

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The trouble is that you spent $100 million to make $103 million. Given what the theaters get, the film lost money in the US. It was 9th highest grossing film in the US and 12th worldwide, in terms of profits it was likely much lower down the list. Disney clearly put a huge amount of time and money into this film so calling it a disappointment was justified.
 

Oblivion138

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Box office need only cover production budget, with home video generally covering marketing budget. So with that in mind, Dic Tracy made over $100,000,000 at the box office...not factoring in home video profits. If you want to throw marketing into the expense pile, you also have to throw home video sales and rentals into the profit pile...which you're not doing.
 

Matt Hough

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The common rule of thumb back then was that a film needed to gross 1.5 times its cost in order to break even. If Dick Tracy cost $46 million, then it needed to gross $69 million to break even. It did this easily. I think the disappointment was solely due to the comparison of its gross with the grosses for Batman.
 

Richard V

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Robert Crawford said:
My problem with this film was that I always thought Beatty was just too old to play the title character.
Yeah, I kinda agree. Onscreen he appeared a little long in the tooth, but I still enjoyed it. Would never say it was a horrible movie.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Matt Hough said:
The common rule of thumb back then was that a film needed to gross 1.5 times its cost in order to break even. If Dick Tracy cost $46 million, then it needed to gross $69 million to break even. It did this easily. I think the disappointment was solely due to the comparison of its gross with the grosses for Batman.
No, I think it was a disappointment because it wasn't the year's biggest hit - or even close. I remember all the hype behind this film - it was just like what we got for "Godzilla" in 1998, as "Tracy" was touted as the summer's Big Movie.

And it wasn't. It was only 9th for the whole year, and three other summer movies did better than "Tracy".

Even if you forget the "Batman" comparisons, a movie with so much hype and publicity that ends up ninth for the year is a disappointment. Not a flop, but a definite disappointment...
 

FrancisP

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Disney clearly had Batman type box-office in mind which is why they put around $55 million dollars and a huge effort into marketing this film. It was the most hyped film of the year. Despite this effort, it grossed $159 million worldwide which was good enough for only 12th place in 1990. That is just barely over 1.5 times it's total budget plus what was made on home video. While it did make money, it also suffered the fate that other over-hyped films suffer. Unless you shoot the lights out, you are seen as a failure. Witness Godzilla and Batman and Robin which had releases very similar to Dick Tracy.
 

Reggie W

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Well, I have to say it was an interesting film to watch again after all these years. Going in I could not remember anything about the story itself and and discovered why that was...it's a pretty forgettable story. Most of the effort in making this film seemed to go into the way it looks, the effects, artwork, set design, make-up, color scheme, and photography seemed to be the entire focus of the film. Outside of Al Pacino most of the acting is also pretty forgettable as he gives his most over the top performance since Scarface...mainly screaming almost every line...but the film needs Pacino because Beatty's Tracy is basically a void comprised mainly of Beatty's trademark (at least in later years) halting dialogue delivery. The film is filled with many wonderful character actors (including many from Bonnie and Clyde) most of them unrecognizable under pounds of make-up and prosthetics.

If you go with the idea that this is a candy colored kiddie noir it is enjoyable from that aspect but it would have been a far better film if some investment had been made in developing the story further. Many people seem annoyed by Madonna but in my opinion her topless scene, climbing up on Tracy's desk and raising her rear end in the air (reminding me a bit of a scene from The Two Jakes) , pretty much demanding sex and delivery of lines like "I sweat better in the dark." at least gave the film a pulse when she was onscreen. While there is pretty much zero chemistry between Tracy and Tess at least Breathless provides some sexual tension to engage the audience.

Many times watching the film I thought of Mario Bava and the way he would light and shoot his films and Storaro's work here at least to me felt like it owed a debt to him.

Basically, I think Dick Tracy suffers from the same issue a lot of comic book films suffer from--a bland hero and a villain that is a lot more fun. The film is elevated every time Pacino is onscreen whether he is slapping around Madonna or berating his fellow gangsters. Even under the padding and the make-up Pacino at least explodes off the screen and is the most entertaining and funny part of the film. Dustin Hoffman's part is a running gag that sets up a punchline and like many of the recognizable faces in the film he really has little to do.

In the end it is an interesting film to look at but I have to admit I can see why no sequel was made and I don't think it had much to do with the profit margin.
 

Colin Jacobson

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FrancisP said:
Disney clearly had Batman type box-office in mind which is why they put around $55 million dollars and a huge effort into marketing this film. It was the most hyped film of the year. Despite this effort, it grossed $159 million worldwide which was good enough for only 12th place in 1990. That is just barely over 1.5 times it's total budget plus what was made on home video. While it did make money, it also suffered the fate that other over-hyped films suffer. Unless you shoot the lights out, you are seen as a failure. Witness Godzilla and Batman and Robin which had releases very similar to Dick Tracy.
"B&R" was a much bigger flop, IMO. "Batman Forever" made $183 million US while "B&R" made only $107 million - that's a huge decline, and "B&R" didn't even earn back its $125 million budget in the US.

Plus people just HATED it. At the time, people really enjoyed "Forever", and I did too - I think it's aged poorly, but it was fun 18 years ago. "B&R" was DOA - even a huge Batman fan like me couldn't find much to like about it, and I wasn't alone...
 

FrancisP

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Batman and Robin was much like Dick Tracy. Counting production and marketing, Dick Tracy barely made more than their budget, $103 million vs $100 million. Batman and Robin made around $131 million overseas for a grand total of $238 million worldwide vs Dick Tracy's $162 million. Batman and Robin made more money than Dick Tracy but suffered in comparison to it's predecessors.
 

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