While this weekend will see many actors reprising beloved characters of theirs in commercials for the Super Bowl — from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul becoming Breaking Bad‘s Walt and Jesse once again, to Alicia Silverstone stepping back into her classic Clueless wardrobe — fans of 1990 crime comedy Dick Tracy were also in for a treat. While the comic book detective won’t be making an appearance during the Big Game, actor Warren Beatty did reprise his famous role in the TCM special Tracy Zooms In, which aired on February 10.
The special featured Beatty, appearing in character, in conversation with film critics Leonard Maltin and Ben Mankiewicz. The three of them look back on the film and on Beatty‘s process in making it, before eventually being joined by Beatty himself. The pair (or rather, just Beatty on his own) then begin to argue about whether or not the filmmaker will ever make a sequel to the film, and what that might look like in the changed landscape of film in 2023.
Why Did Warren Beatty Make Tracy Zooms In?
While it’s certainly not unheard of for actors to reprise famous roles of theirs years after the fact, the question remains as to why Beatty chose to don Dick Tracy’s iconic yellow coat and hat nearly 33 years after the film premiered. Nostalgia is certainly a possibility, but the reality of the situation is far more technical. Beatty had once harbored hopes of his Dick Tracy film spawning a franchise centered around the famous detective, going so far as to purchase the film and television rights. When the franchise failed to take off at Disney, things languished in legal limbo, with an ongoing struggle between Beatty and the original rights holders.
In 2010, Beatty produced the first of these TCM specials, simply titled Dick Tracy Special, with the help of Maltin. The continued use of the character in this way, with incremental progress being made on a prospective sequel — which Beatty is evidently still interested in seeing come to light — seems to be legally enough for the actor to retain the film and TV rights. In this way, Tracy Zooms In is a furthering of that goal, pushing that dreamed-about sequel just a little closer to fruition, while ensuring Beatty will legally be able to make it happen.
Tracy Zooms In aired on February 10 on TCM, and as of right now there are no firm plans for a Dick Tracy sequel. If you missed the special, you can watch the special below: