A William Dozier production
The Batman TV Series, along with other shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Doctor Who, were just some of the shows from the era to be given spin-off films when their weekly shows were still on the air.
The original plan was for the movie to be done first in order to sell the series, but since many of ABC’s shows were failing the premiere of the series was pushed forward, which worked out for the best because the series had become such a hit after only a few months on the air. Despite this fact Twentieth Century Fox still decided to proceed with the movie, to cash in on the popularity of the series.
Production on the movie begun on April 25th and ended on May 31st, 1966. The movie then premiered at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, on July 30th, 1966 as a thank you to Glastron, who designed the Batboat that was used in the movie. Four days later it had it’s general release in theaters on August 3rd, 1966.
Starring in the movie was Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin), Alan Napier (Alfred), Madge Blake (Aunt Harriet in non-speaking cameos only), Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon), and Stafford Repp (Chief O’Hara), who were all reprising their roles from the series.
The script was written by Lorenzo Semple, Jnr. who set the tone for the series. it was directed by Leslie H. Martinson, who had previously directed episodes 21 and 22 “Penguin Goes Straight” and “Not Yet He Ain’t.” The movie was produced under the name Greenlawn Productions and was distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. And it was based on characters that Bob Kane created for use in Batman and Detective Comics Magazines published by National Periodical Publications, Inc.
The selling points of the movie was that it was the first time in a full length motion picture that Batman had been done in color. Although the TV Series had been airing in color for many months, some people were not were not able to experience what it looked in color, as they still watched on black-and-white TV sets. So the chance of seeing Batman in color in theatres was of particular interest to people who didn’t own a color TV at the time.
Another selling point of the movie was the introduction of the Batcopter, Batboat, and a new version of the Batcycle, which couldn’t all be introduced in the series first and then be used in the movie, because the TV Series budget wouldn’t allow it. The bigger budget for the movie meant that all three vehicles could be introduced in the movie and then be edited into the series.
The final selling point of the movie was that it included four of the most popular villains from the series: The Joker, The Riddler, and Penguin, who were played by Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, and Burgess Meredith who were reprising their roles from the series. Catwoman was played by former Miss America Lee Meriweather because Julie Newmar was unavailable at the time.
At the time the pre-selling campaign for the movie was described as the wildest in film history. As the movie was being promoted everywhere from spots on radio and television, in full page ads in comic books, as well as being promoted on the sides of 5,000 National Periodical Publications delivery trucks. There were also over 150 merchandising tie-ins for the movie. And several personal appearances were made to further promote the movie.
However, despite this promotion for the movie, it was only a modest success at the box office. According to Adam West and Burt Ward’s commentary track Batman: The Movie was actually outperformed by the large amount of Batman merchandise that went on sale during the course of the series. But it was still profitable due to the built in audience that were already watching the series.
From September 9th, 1966 to September 14th, 1966, Batman: The Movie was given a second theatrical run at the Skyvue Drive-In Theatre in New Orleans. Where it shared the opening billing with the Doris Day romantic comedy Do Not Disturb.
Five Years Later on July 4th, 1971, ABC gave Batman: The Movie its network premiere as the 1971 edition of The ABC Sunday Night Movie. This network premiere of Batman: The Movie was so successful that ABC decided to rerun the movie on September 5th, 1971.
The following year Batman: The Movie won a Golden Gryphon Award at the 1972 Giffoni International Film Festival for kids.
Batman: The Movie was also shown in various matinee theatres and on matinee channels on television in the 80’s.
In some countries Batman: The Movie has premiered before the Batman TV Series just as it was supposed to do in America. If the Internet Movie Database listings are correct, this was the case in Sweden and West Germany.
During Batmania 2 the hype that was sparked by Batman 1989, Batman: The Movie was re-released at the Four Star Theatre in Los Angeles. This was the culmination of a weeklong celebration of the TV Series, which was hosted by the local radio station KRLA radio. This showing of Batman: The Movie was said to have drawn a crowd, so large that a second showing of the movie had to be arranged for later that night.
Over the years Batman: The Movie has been released on every home video format. Because of the combined success of the TV Series and Batman: The Movie in syndication and special showings on TV and in theatres.
The reason why Batman: The Movie was able to be released on home video while the TV series wasn’t, is due to the fact that a clause in the contract for Batman: The Movie stated that it could be shown outside of movie theaters. This was quite common for films back then, as it was done with the intention of selling them to networks for broadcasting. Through this same clause in film contracts, films (including Batman: The Movie) were then able to be released on home video many years later. With that said Batman: The Movie continues to introduce a new generation of people to Batman through its syndication on television and its special showings in theatres.
Further adding to this is the fact that lines like “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb” are still quoted till this day. And the Shark Attack and Batman Bomb Run scenes, remain popular with fans, especially with members of sites such as knowyourmeme.com, who have made a meme out of the Batman Bomb Run scene.
Sources: Batman: A Dynamic Legacy Featurette, 2001 Batman Featurette, Lorenzo Semple, Jnr.’s Batman: The Movie Commentary Track, The production papers for Batman: The Movie, Joel Eisner’s Official Batbook: The Revised Edition, The Batman: The Movie Interactive Press Book, Show Beat – The Danville Register Tuesday, 31 Jan 1967, Adam West and Burt Ward’s Batman: The Movie Commentary Track, Bob Furmanek from 66batman.com, Boxoffice Magazine – October 03, 1966, Boxoffice Magazine – March 20, 1967, AHTrois from 66batman.com, Awards-Batmania.co.uk, The Batman: The Movie Internet Movie Database Page, The Batman TV Series Internet Movie Database Page, 66batman.com users Tiltinghead and BATWINGED HORNET, Batman: The Movie Page – LegionsofGotham.org, William Dozier’s motion picture day players contract, Andy Fish from 66batman.com, knowyourmeme.com,