Batman’s Producers Tried To Force Danny Elfman To Co-Write The Score With Prince

Elfman revealed that he was intimidated enough by “Batman.” By 1989, he had already worked on multiple mainstream studio films including “Back to School,” “Midnight Run,” and “Scrooged,” so he was quite used to working in the studio system, but “Batman” was a few steps beyond. This was to be a summer tentpole to end all summer tentpoles, and Elfman felt the pressure. He also received a lot of studio notes. Evidently, the primary mandate was that the “Batman” score could not resemble the score of the 1978 “Superman” film. Elfman said:

“I’ve never done anything harder than ‘Batman’ because, first off, I had to prove myself. [I]t’s like, ‘Okay, he’s the quirky comedy guy,’ and here I am doing this Batman movie. Understandably, I think they were like, ‘Uh, we need somebody who knows how to do this kind of music.’ But nobody knew what kind of music it was. There really was no superhero music. There was just ‘Superman.’ And we said, ‘We know we don’t want it to be Superman, John Williams.'”

Beyond that, the studio said they might require something … poppier. Elfman’s scores tend to feature quirky, baroque melodies. A lot of Elfman’s “Batman” score owes an aural debt to Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite.” Stravinsky clearly didn’t have the pizazz the studio wanted. Elfman was offered a chance to collaborate with Prince. As Elfman put it:

“[T]here was an element with the producer in the studio of wanting it to be a pop score. There was definitely this moment of like, ‘Danny, we want you to collaborate with Prince and co-write the score.’ And I go, ‘I can’t do that.'”

Yes, he turned down working with Prince.

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