On this day in horror history, director Tim Burton’s Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as The Joker was unleashed back in 1989.
Greenlit until after the success of Burton’s Beetlejuice, filming took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989 with a budget that escalated from $30 million to $48 million.
Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay but the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out so Warren Skaaren did the rewrite along with Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems.
Batman was a financial success, earning over $400 million at the box office becoming the fifth-highest-grossing film in history at the time. The film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and spawned three sequels, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin.
Having witnessed his parents’ brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City disguised as Batman, a costumed hero who strikes fear into the hearts of villains. But when a deformed madman who calls himself “The Joker” (Jack Nicholson) seizes control of Gotham’s criminal underworld, Batman must face his most ruthless nemesis ever while protecting both his identity and his love interest, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).
It sports a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson’s Joker too often overshadows the title character.
Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber, based on the DC Comics character, it co-starred Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance.