Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 62


In early 1988 we were beginning to hear more serious rumors about a big-budget feature film that Warner Brothers was making of Batman. We were excited about the many possibilities that this could bring if the movie was any good. Our comic book industry could get much needed national attention in the media and people might be interested in reading comic books again. Although my business was growing each year our main customer base was made up of serious collectors and it would have been great to get more of the “general public” interested in going into comic book specialty stores like mine.

Unfortunately, the early rumors we were hearing were not good. A comic book writer wasn’t writing the movie. The movie was going to be directed by Tim Burton who was primarily known for directing Pee Wee Herman’s movie “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beetlejuice” starring Michael Keaton. Both of these were pretty good movies but they were comedies and, as fans, we wanted a serious Batman movie. Then we began hearing rumors that Michael Keaton was being considered for the role of Batman! Horrors! He’s short, balding, has no chin, and his body isn’t in great shape. How could Tim Burton possibly make him into a serious and believable Batman?

The answer became obvious as publicity photographs were released. Since Michael Keaton wasn’t a well-built “muscleman” they’d have to make the costume look the part. They built a rubber costume that made it appear as if Michael Keaton could actually be The Batman. He didn’t look like the Bruce Wayne that we’ve all come to know from the comic books or the Adam West television show but at least he’d look like a superhero when he was in the costume.

When I was satisfied that the movie would at least be visually interesting, I decided to try to put together a project to make this movie a special event for my customers. I called the Boston office of National Amusements (the company that distributed the films to the local theaters) and tried to arrange it so Worcester would be able to have a big premiere on the first night of the movie’s release. I tried to assure them that I would be able to generate a lot of good radio and newspaper publicity for the movie. They explained that although Worcester was the second largest city in all of New England, they were more interested in premiering the movie in Boston. I tried to get them to agree release it simultaneously in Boston and Worcester but they just didn’t think Worcester was an important market for them. I was frustrated because I wanted to be involved in this big-budget movie premiere. There hadn’t been a good major comic book related movie since the Christopher Reeve Superman movie from the 1970’s and I was now reading really good things about this upcoming Batman movie.

Next chapter: A sign of intelligent life in Boston.

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