It Was 10 Years Ago Today
Sunday 20 June 1999
On its US release on 23 June 1989, Roger Ebert was unstinting in his derision in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Batman is a triumph of design over story, style over substance - a great-looking movie with a plot you can't care much about." Adam Mars-Jones in the Independent exhorted viewers to "see the film for what it is: a moderately entertaining fantasy, with good design, some strong performances and a desperate need of a script doctor".
As far as the acting went, David Robinson of the Times plumped for the bad guy: "Michael Keaton is an amiable but somewhat smaller-than-life Batman, certainly alongside the rich excesses of Jack Nicholson's Joker."
In an echo of Gilbert Adair's comments in his book The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice, in which he noted that the climax of a film's career often predates its opening, Nigel Andrews added: "Batman is the masterpiece of a movie age in which the gift-wrapping is all the gift you get. Don't unwrap it too hurriedly, or there will be tears before bedtime."
Batman wobbled the record books by making $100m in its first 10 days, easily recouping the $60m it took to make. But what had helped the film's takings was its relentless merchandising. In addition to T-shirts and mugs, there were BMX scooters: the seriously wealthy could splash out on a Batmobile-shaped bed, a five-foot scale model of the famous car, or limited edition waistcoats. However, Batman: The Merchandising failed at the box office with the Batmobile birthday cake: children were put off by the black icing.
Maeve Walsh is away
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Arts & Ents blogs
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- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
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France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services