Actor Warren Beatty has brought suit against Tribune Co over the film and television rights to Dick Tracy. Back in 1985, Tribune temporarily gave Beatty the rights under the agreement that the rights would revert to Tribune if “a certain period of time” lapsed without Beatty having produced a Dick Tracy movie, TV series or TV special. Beatty used the rights to make “Dick Tracy,” which earned more than $160 million at worldwide box offices in 1990, but had done nothing since then.
Tribune sent Beatty a letter on November 17, 2006, and gave him two years to begin production on Dick Tracy programing or else it would take the rights back. Beatty began a Dick Tracy TV special on November 8 this year, the lawsuit said, and gave Tribune written notice. Tribune responded by saying too little too late, and that it was taking back the rights anyway.
Tribune set an ultimatum but wasn’t prepared for the consequences. It sounds like Tribune made up its mind back in 2006 that it was going to take back the rights whether Beatty consented or not.