Jack Pedota & Batman Returns

Design by Alvin & Associates; photography by Jack Pedota

An excerpt from a 1992 profile on the photographer behind the posters for Batman Returns:

“Jack Pedota’s extraordinary color visualizations captured the outre quality of Batman Returns. The pre-release posters featuring Pedota’s photos of The Bat, The Cat and The Penguin heralded the coming of the film and became rare collectors’ items overnight – literally. Appearing on bus stop postercases all over the country, they rarely were still in place a week later.

The 29-year-old native of Colorado had been trying to make his mark as a pro shutterbug for several years in Los Angeles without much luck. He admired Burton’s first Batman and tried in vain to make contact, using the normal channels. ‘I called Tim’s assistant once a week for three weeks,’ Pedota recalled, ‘and her answer was the same. Tim’s very busy right now. Why don’t you call him back a little later?’ When? And she said, ‘About a year and a half.’

To make ends meet, Pedota delivered pizzas for a trendy Italian eatery on Melrose Avenue, Angeli’s. When a phone order came into the restaurant from Tim Burton’s production office on the Warner’s lot, Pedota reacted with the elan of Bruce Wayne spying the Bat-Signal. He slipped an ultra-stylized photo of a Manhattan fashion model into the pizza box (along with extra cheese) and dropped the delivery off.

Two hours later, Pedota received a call from Burton’s assistant, now quite cooperative and upbeat, saying the director wanted to see Pedota’s portfolio. Burton was impressed, and gave him the job of shooting DeVito, Keaton and Pfeiffer for the worldwide publicity campaign.

His use of a ‘twisted tungsten’ technique produced fantastic, vibrant, other-worldly colors not  generally found in nature. For the portrait of Michelle Pfeiffer, for instance, her lips were painted bright blue, and she was shot on color infra-red film. As is common with flexing film schedules, his promised one-day-each with the stars became considerably less: two quick 15 minute sessions, in the case of Pfeiffer. It was enough. 

No doubt Pedota’s poster triptych will make the rounds in upcoming sci-fi conventions. It’s a continuing thrill for the photographer. He may still be delivering pizzas, but the Burton connection lives on.”