It’s a dilemma that could ruffle Batman’s usually unflappable butler Alfred: How do you revive a once heroic film franchise whose wings have been clipped?
For Warner Bros. — which saw its Batman series fizzle when 1997’s $110 million ”Batman & Robin” grossed a mere $107 million domestically — the answer has been to be very cautious about putting on the cape again. But three years after the nipples and neon extravaganza that was ”B&R,” Warner is sending up the Bat signal. In a departure, though, Warner exec Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has opted to develop two separate Bat flicks and has smartly recruited two young Hollywood turks: Darren Aronofsky, helmer of ”Pi” and ”Requiem for a Dream,” is on board to cowrite and direct comic book scribe Frank Miller’s ”Batman: Year One,” a retelling of the hero’s origins. Meanwhile, Boaz Yakin, who earned indie cred with 1994?s ”Fresh” and box office stripes with ”Remember the Titans,” will go bat to the future for a live action version of the WB series ”Batman Beyond” (which follows a young turk who takes over for Bruce Wayne).
Not surprisingly, specifics are as tough to crack as the Dark Knight’s secret identity. While the studio is keeping mum, a source close to the projects says neither has the inside track to get a green light first. In either case, production won’t begin until after the projected industry strikes this summer — and given the previous films’ long preproduction time, a 2002 release seems a long shot.