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Burton To Do Batman 2′; Keaton Up In Air

Tim Burton has committed to direct Warner Bros.’ “Batman 2,” which could go before the cameras as early as this summer for worldwide release in 1992.

Warners is in the midst of negotiating with “Batman” star Michael Keaton to reprise the title role.

Burton’s partner, Denise Di Novi, will produce the sequel. The director’s 1989 blockbuster collected $251.2 million, making it the fifth-highest grossing domestic pic of all time after “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” ($400 million), “Star Wars” ($322 million), “Return Of The Jedi” ($263 million) and “Jaws” ($260 million).

WB is awaiting delivery of the “Batman 2” script from Dan Waters (“Heathers,” “The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane”) before setting a start date, which sources at the studio said should be no later than fall.

Burton’s reps believe the sequel will be the director’s next production. There is a chance that another studio could woo Burton (whose “Edward Scissorhands” is in release via 20th Century Fox) into doing a project before “Batman 2.”

It is understood Geffen Films and Warners still are developing “Beetlejuice 2,” sequel to the 1988 hit, also directed by Burton and starring Keaton.

Keaton’s manager and producing partner, Harry Colomby, said he and the actor have yet to see the “Batman 2” script, though negotiations for Keaton’s services are under way with WB.

Keaton most recently wrapped Hollywood Pictures’ “One Good Cop,” and has no future commitments, according to Colomby.

Jack Nicholson, whose Joker character was killed off in the original “Batman,” told VARIETY last April when asked about a return in the sequel: “It depends on the part and the script. I won’t do it for the tremendous amount of money. I never did it for that.”

With foreign boxoffice receipts of $155 million and video sales of $150 million, “Batman” made over $550 million worldwide.

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