Benjamin Melniker, known as the producer of nearly all Batman films and projects, died on February 26. He was 104. Melniker’s producing partner, Michael Uslan, made the announcement on Facebook today.
Without Melniker, the world may have never seen the Batman films that we are familiar with today. In 1979, he and Uslan bought the movie rights to DC’s Caped Crusader. This would cement his legacy as a producer on almost all Batman projects from Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation starring Michael Keaton to Ben Affleck’s iteration in 2017’s Justice League. This also includes animated Batman projects including The Lego Batman Movie, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Batman: The Killing Joke as well as the Batman: Ninja movies.
In addition to the Batman property, Melniker and Uslan worked on other comic book films including Swamp Thing in 1982, Catwoman starring Halle Berry in 2004, Frank Miller’s adaptation of The Spirit in 2008 as well as the live-action Constantine in 2005 starring Keanu Reeves.
Melniker got his start at MGM in 1939, during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is there where he would eventually earn the nickname “The MGM Lion” because of his forceful negotiating skills. His reputation and integrity would elevate him as Executive Vice President as well as Chairman of the Film Selection Committee and a member of the parent Loews’ board. He also put together numerous deals for iconic films including Ben-Hur, Dr. Zhivago, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gigi and other musicals of the era.