Despite the relative inactivity of the franchise in recent years, the character rights to Dick Tracy will continue to belong to Warren Beatty. Tribune Company, who owned the rights to the comic strip before giving them to Beatty to make the 1990 film Dick Tracy, sued Beatty back in 2005 in an effort to wrest back control of the franchise in court.
The Wrap spoke with Beatty’s lawyer Chuck Shepheard who explained that Tribune’s deal with Beatty “said that as long as Warren continued to make Dick Tracy programs, he would be able to keep the rights. If a period of time went by without him doing Dick Tracy programs, then Tribune could give him a notice giving him two more years within which to start a project … or he would lose the rights.”
Beatty, playing Tracy, filmed a fake interview with Leonard Maltin a few years ago in an attempt to hold on to the character rights. An LA judge apparently decided that effort was sufficient enough to constitute making a Dick Tracy program, and sided with Beatty in the case. Time will now tell if Beatty actually plans to make another Tracy movie, or if he’s just being a selfish Dick.