The news was revealed by Arnon Milchan on Wednesday at CinemaCon, as the producer accepted the Legends of Cinema Award from Beatty.
Asked after the lunch ceremony about the project, Beatty confirmed, “I’m serious about it, but I am slow about these things.” He was whisked away by a crowd of admirers before he could make any additional comments. But Milchan also confirmed that a project is being discussed and could be completed within two years.
Beatty is already at work on a film in which he plays the aged billionaire Howard Hughes. That movie is also for Milchan’s New Regency Productions, the powerhouse production company that won best picture awards for “12 Years a Slave” and “Birdman.” They expect a fall or winter release for Beatty’s long-gestating passion project, the yet-to-be-titled Hughes film.
Beatty produced, directed and starred in the highly-stylized 1990 version of “Dick Tracy.” The film featured an all-star cast including Al Pacino, Madonna, Dustin Hoffman and Dick Van Dyke. It received critical praise for bringing a bright, comic book sensibility into live action, but criticism for weak character development and plot. Still, it made nearly $163 million on a $47 million production budget.
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A sequel has been contemplated for years, but was held up in a fight over rights to the story between Beatty and Tribune Media Services. With resolution of the lawsuit in 2013, a path was cleared for production. Milchan’s comments at the luncheon in his honor were the first indication that Beatty plans on moving ahead. Asked after the event how serious Beatty was about the project, Milchan responded: “Very serious.”
Milchan told the audience that “Tracy” was just one project being mulled by Beatty, who agreed after presenting the award to Milchan that another film on the comic book detective is a real possibility.
Beatty, the acclaimed star of films like “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Shampoo” and “Heaven Can Wait,” has not starred in a major film since 1998’s political satire “Bulworth.” As to the possible re-emergence of the 79-year-old star after years out of the limelight, Milchan said: “The rules don’t apply to him.”
The star has been trying to get the Hughes film to the screen for years and now looks like he is about to realize that dream, in partnership with New Regency and Fox. He will play the billionaire industrialist and filmmaker in his later years. Milchan said the story centers around the elderly Hughes’ relationship with a young actress who wants to become a star. The New Regency owner said that the film will be test screened three or four times before a release date is set, probably for the fall or winter.