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OTRC: Warren Beatty wins Dick Tracy rights battle

Warren Beatty and Madonna appear in a promotional photo for the 1990 movie 'Dick Tracy.' (Touchstone Pictures)

Warren Beatty can retain his rights over Dick Tracy, a character he played in a 1990 film, and can use the crime-fighting detective in on-screen projects in the future, a California judge has ruled.

Beatty, who turns 74 on Wednesday, March 30, also directed and co-produced the movie, which made more than $162 million worldwide and also starred Madonna, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman.

Beatty obtained the rights to Dick Tracy, who is based on a 1930s comic strip character, in 1985 and signed a deal that year that would have given them back to Tribune Media Services if he did not make another Dick Tracy movie or television project within a certain period of time.

Tribune said in a 2006 letter to Beatty that he had two years to begin producing a Dicky Tracy project. The actor said he began working on a television special based on the character in 2008 and had notified Tribune of this in advance. After the company told him it could still terminate his rights, he filed a lawsuit, asking for a summary judgment over the dispute.

A California judge recently granted Beatty's request, saying in his order: "Beatty's commencement of principal photography of his television special on November 8, 2008 was sufficient for him to retain the Dick Tracy rights ... which were granted to him pursuant to the August 28, 1985 agreement. Beatty retains the Rights on an exclusive basis."

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