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Reports From the Batcave: Another Sequel in Works?

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It’s a little hard to believe after the drubbing “Batman & Robin” received both critically and at the box office last summer, but director Joel Schumacher is reportedly in discussions with Warner Bros. to direct another “Batman” film--his third and the studio’s fifth caped crusader film.

Schumacher, who directed the hugely successful third film (1995’s “Batman Forever”) as well as the disappointing fourth (“Batman & Robin”) in the lucrative franchise, is close to committing to returning behind the cameras with the still-untitled fifth film, although it would be unlikely to start production this year, studio sources say.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jul. 03, 1998 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 3, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 18 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong project--An article in Wednesday’s Calendar about the plans of director Joel Schumacher misstated his next project. He plans to begin filming “Flawless,” starring Robert De Niro, for MGM in October, and will shoot “Dream Girls” for Warner Bros. in March.

Actor Kurt Russell reportedly has been approached about taking over the starring role, which was previously played by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and, most recently, George Clooney. The company and Russell have refused to comment.

“I can tell you I have no plans to do a ‘Batman’ right now,” Schumacher said. “But I have received so many calls in the past few days about this, it’s amazing. . . . I plan to start shooting ‘Dream Girls’ for Warners in October so [reports of a start this fall] would be a bit of a tight schedule, don’t you think? This whole ‘Batman’ issue is insane. It doesn’t stop.”

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Both the studio and Schumacher suspect that interest has recently skyrocketed because Warners has postponed a sequel for another comic-book caped crusader--"Superman"--that was supposed to have been released next summer but was pulled because of a problematic script. And Schumacher himself recently approached Warners co-chairman Terry Semel about an idea for a fifth “Batman” film--an idea neither Schumacher nor Semel would discuss.

After “Batman & Robin” opened last summer to negative reviews and disappointing results, Schumacher took it hard. At the time, he wasn’t sure whether he would ever want to direct another “Batman” or whether the studio would even offer another turn to him.

“You know, I’m still very proud of what we did with that one, even though I took a big hit from the critics,” he said. “But parents had asked me to make a ‘Batman’ that little kids could enjoy, that wasn’t as dark as the others and I felt like we did. You can’t win.

“I did talk to Lorenzo [DiBonaventura, Warner’s production chief] about possibly doing another one. I would only do it on a much-smaller scale, with less villains and truer in nature to the comic book,” he said.

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