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Adam West was far more than Batman on the small screen. He was Batman on the big screen too! Fifty years ago, the iconic DC Comics crime fighter made the leap to his first full-length film.
With a larger (though still not very large) budget, the Caped Crusader took to land, sea and air. Batman and the Boy Wonder had a full arsenal replete with Batcopter, Batboat, and Batmobile. And they would need all of those tools when coming against the rogues gallery of villains that included the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, and Catwoman.
1. The Green Hornet makes a cameo. Sort of.
Van Williams — best known as portraying playboy Britt Reid and his vigilante alter ego, the Green Hornet — was the uncredited voice of Lyndon B. Johnson, who is seen only from behind in the movie. Williams would appear as the Green Hornet on the Batman series in the following season in the ultimate crossover of crimefighters.
2. Catwoman got swapped.
Julie Newmar, the purr-fect first Catwoman from the TV show, did not make the jump to the big screen, as the actress had signed on to another project. The production quickly found a replacement in Lee Meriwether. Since the producers couldn't find a replacement quick enough, Meriwether doesn't appear in the first scene aboard the Penguin's submarine.
3. It was supposed to premiere before the show!
Series creator and producer William Dozier wanted the film to be the first introduction to his vision of Batman, as a sort of cinematic pilot. However, 20th Century Fox was not willing to gamble on a movie release (since they would have had to cover the cost entirely) and instead opted for the TV show first, so the network assumed some of the financial risk.
4. The movie is dedicated to crime fighters.
Batman opens with a tribute to crime fighters around the world (not to mention lovers around the world).
5. A sequel was planned!
Dozier hoped to shoot another feature following the second season of the TV show -- one that would introduce Batgirl. However, sagging interest and lower ratings led to the project being scrapped for fear of financial risk. Fortunately, Yvonne Craig got the Bat call for season three.
6. It premiered in Texas for a reason!
Glastron Boats provided the nifty Batboat seen in the film. In return, the studio held the film's premiere in Austin, the hometown of Glastron's headquarters and Texas' captial.
7. It was the final film of Reginald Denny.
British screen legend Denny was a member of the Royal Flying Corps in World War I, and his film credits stretch back to 1915. After racking up over 180 credits to his name, he made his final appearance as Commodore Schmidlapp here in Batman: The Movie.
8. It was number one at the box office!
The film initially grossed more than $2 million against its budget of $1,377,800. It held on to the top spot the week of July 24, 1966 before the massive Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? reclaimed the crown the following week.
9. Some promotions showed Batman in a red costume.
Can you imagine Batman with a Daredevil look? Well, you don't have to thanks to this Italian poster from 1966 by artist Giuliano Nistri.