When 1989 'Batman' premiere reached a fever pitch: 'We were afraid we couldn't control security'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Honest Trailers - Batman (1989)

Twenty seven years before Jared's Joker, there was Jack's — and the world had never seen anything like it.

The hype for Tim Burton's Batman, starring Jack Nicholson (Joker), Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne) and Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale) was so great that Warner Bros. had to scale back the L.A. premiere for "security concerns," as reported in THR's June 5, 1989 edition.

Initially, the studio "seriously considered" planning a mega-party, complete with a full transformation of Westwood's Broxton Avenue into Gotham City. But the big-scale plans were scrapped and the extra funds were donated to support the L.A. homeless, in the spirit of "the Caped Crusader's propensity for doing good."

Charlotte Gee, Warner Bros. vice president of publicity and promotion at the time, told The Hollywood Reporter, "There has been a swell of anticipation, rising to an intense point now, and we were afraid we couldn't control security and would have a problem occur that would spoil a wonderful evening, It just wouldn't be responsible."

Read more: 10 Jokers That Led to Jared Leto's 'Suicide Squad' Look

Instead, Warners opted for two 8 p.m. screenings at the Bruin and Village theaters, where a crowd — made up mostly of 16- to 25-year-olds — flocked to snatch a seat, with "many sporting the yellow and black Batman trademark in some format." Out of 10,000 estimated Bat-fans who flooded the scene, 1,700 lucky diehards were treated to free, encore screenings as a special treat.

In honor of Jared Leto's Joker hitting the big screen in Suicide Squad, look back at the historic premiere by reading THR's original June 21, 1989 Batman premiere coverage below.

Barry King / Getty

June 21, 1989

Nearly 1,700 well-behaved Batfans were rewarded for their patience Monday night when after the premiere in two Westwood theaters of Batman, they were admitted to additional free late-night screenings of the film.

"We didn't honestly think that many people would stay," said Charlotte Gee, Warner Bors. vp publicity and promotion. "We thought when the celebrities left and the lights went out the crowd would disperse, but they were having a good time and they stayed."

Warner Bros. said that police estimated close to 10,000 fans filled the cordoned-off Westwood streets at the height of the arrival of the stars for the 8 p.m. premiere.

The crowd appeared to be made up primarily of 16- to 25-year-olds, many sporting the yellow and black Batman trademark in some format. A large evil-clown balloon from the film hovered above the theaters with the Batman logo spotlighted onto both theaters.

On Friday, fans began their weekend-long vigil for free premiere tickets. Warner Bros. had announced that those who came dressed as any of the film's characters would receive free souvenirs. Thus, the sidewalk around the theaters was filled with assorted Jokers and Batmen.

According to Gee, the studio handed out numbered wristbands in order to allow those who were first in line to receive better seats and also to allow people to go home without losing their place in line.

During the two hours that the film screened at the premiere, the majority of the crowd dispersed, but a few thousand die-hard fans stayed.

"We never officially said there would be a second screening, but it was always in our minds," said Gee, acknowledging that such a rumor spread through the crowd early on. "And when we saw that the fans weren't going home, Barry Reardon (Warner Bros. distribution president) decided to screen the movie again for the fans."

The crowd cheered after an announcement of the second screening was made on bullhorns, said Gee.

"All along we wanted it to be a people's premiere, and we just carried it through until the end,' concluded Gee. — Andrea King

READ MORE: 'Batman': THR's 1989 Review

More from Jack Nicholson in the gallery below!

27 PHOTOS
Anjelica Huston Jack Nicholson
See Gallery
Anjelica Huston Jack Nicholson
American actor Jack Nicholson with American actress Anjelica Huston at a Screen Directors Guild showing of Alan J. Pakula's 'The Parallax View', 10th June 1974. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
008689 01: Actor Jack Nicholson stands with Anjelica Huston at the Cannes Film Festival May, 1974 in Cannes, France. Nicholson won the festival's Best Actor award for his performance as a military policeman in the film 'The Last Detail.' (Photo by Liaison)
Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson during Mabel Mercer in Concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles - March 21, 1978 at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
American actors Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston attend the New York Film Critics Awards dinner at Sardi's restaurant, New York, New York, January 1977. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
American actors Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston attend the Academy Awards ceremonies together, Los Angeles, California, March 29, 1976. (Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 3: Actor Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston attend Tribute Gala Honoring Jack Nicholson on March 3, 1983 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ava Gardner, John Huston, Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JULY 01: Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - circa 1985: Actor Jack Nicholson with his partner, actress Anjelica Huston. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
PRIZZI'S HONOR - Airdate June 13, 1985. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) JACK NICHOLSON;ANJELICA HUSTON
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 12: Actor Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston attend the premiere party for 'Amadeus' on September 12, 1984 at the Limelight in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston during 'Amadeus' Premiere - September 12, 1984 at Lowe's Tower East Theater in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actor Jack Nicholson with his partner, actress Anjelica Huston with their awards from the New York Film Critics' Circle, 1985. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - circa 1985: Actor Jack Nicholson with his partner, actress Anjelica Huston. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Lindall Hobbs, Jack Nicholson, and Anjelica Huston (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
382233 01: Actor Jack Nicholson stands with Anjelica Huston at the premiere of 'Terms of Endearment' November 23, 1983 in New York City. Nicholson won six major Best Supporting Actor awards, including the Oscar, for his performance in the film. (Photo by Maureen Donaldson/Liaison)
Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, and Huston Family (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 01: Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson during 58th Annual Academy Awards at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles, CA, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1970's: Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston arriving at Beverly Hilton Hotel on circa 1970's in Beverly Hills, United States. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Actors Jack Nicholson, center, and Anjelica Huston, left, in green, arrive at the 58th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, March 24, 1986. Others are unidentified. (AP Photo)
Actor Jack Nicholson, sporting his trademark sunglasses, poses with actress Anjelica Huston during the New York Film Critics Award at Sardi's restaurant, New York City, on January 27, 1986. Huston was named best supporting actress for her part in "Prizzi's Honor," and Nicholson was honored best actor for his role in the same film. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)
Actor Jack Nicholson gives a thumbs up to the crowd as he arrives for the premiere of the motion picture "Prizzi's Honor," at a Beverly Hills, Calif., movie theater, on June 12, 1985. He is accompanied by co-star Anjelica Huston and the film's director, John Huston, at right. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Actor Jack Nicholson, right, accompanies Anjelica Huston, daughter of director John Houston, to the premiere of her father's newest motion picture drama "Under The Volcano," during the Filmex Film Festival in Los Angeles, Calif., July 6, 1984. (AP Photo/Craig Mathew)
Actor Jack Nicholson is seen with actress Anjelica Huston during the New York Film Critics Award at Sardi's restaurant, New York City, on January 30, 1977. (AP Photo)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More on AOL Entertainment:
Turns out, Mike and Phoebe's weren't supposed to end up together on 'Friends'
Britney Spears flaunts toned body while rolling around in a bikini on the beach
Kim Kardashian rocks cornrows, thigh-high boots: See her look!

Read Full Story

From Our Partners