Looking back, it's hard to believe that a director like Tim Burton was allowed within 10 feet of a multimillion dollar superhero franchise.
Before these movies were the box office juggernauts that we know and love today, Warner Brothers took a big risk on the director to helm Batman. Burton's success with Pee-wee's Big Adventure seemed to promise that he could make a fun, family movie do big business.
But in fact it was Burton's dark and edgy touch that made Batman a runaway hit. Along with becoming one of the most profitable films of all time, Batman was a merchandising gold mine. T-shirts, toys and even breakfast cereal with the caped crusader's name on the box made more than $700 million for Warner Brothers.
Still, studio heads weren't convinced that superhero movies were here to stay. By the time Batman Returns hit theaters in 1992, the studio's advertising and publicity head Robert Friedman guessed that there was a "50-50" chance we could see a third movie.
That didn't stop Warner Brothers from spending more than $100 million on marketing Returns, with help from corporate sponsors like McDonald's, Diet Coke and Choice Hotels. But a conflict with one of these companies ended Burton's chance to direct a third Batman movie.
In fact, it almost killed the whole series...