Beatty battles Tribune over Tracy pic

Actor fights for his rights to 1990 film, plans sequel

HOLLYWOOD — Actor Warren Beatty has sued newspaper publisher Tribune Co., claiming he still has film rights to Dick Tracy and has plans for a second “Dick Tracy” film in the works.

Beatty, who starred in and directed the 1990 film “Dick Tracy,” based on the classic comicstrip, is seeking a ruling that he still owns film and other rights, plus $30 million in damages. The damage figure presumably is based on the profit Beatty expects to see from a sequel. Domestic box office for the film in 1990 was $100 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of that year.

According to the complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court by Beatty’s longtime attorney Bert Fields, Tribune assigned film, television and other rights in Dick Tracy to Beatty in a 1985 agreement. The assignment was subject to a complex, multistep reversion process, which Tribune would be required to follow for it to recapture the rights.

In making the 1990 “Dick Tracy” film with Disney, Beatty transferred most of his rights to Disney but kept the right to produce a project if Tribune sent out a forfeiture notice. In 1994 and ’95, Disney also produced ice shows featuring the Dick Tracy character.

According to the suit, Tribune asked Disney informally to relinquish its rights in 2002. In 2004 Tribune unilaterally claimed the rights had reverted without giving Beatty any notice. This year, Disney reassigned most of its rights to Beatty. The suit claims Beatty intends to make a second Dick Tracy film and other projects.