Inside 'The Dark Knight'

Taking "The Dark Knight" to IMAX

Christian Bale stars as "Batman."
Christian Bale stars as "Batman."
Photo by Stephen Vaughan. TM & © DC Comics

Christopher Nolan wanted to make a film in IMAX for years but waited until he had the right project, and he did a lot of research and preparation going into it. "We thought it would be very cumbersome, very tricky, very time consuming, so by the time we arrived on set we had it pretty well worked out how to use it." The opening bank heist, shot in Chicago in December 2006, went so well that the format was used in other sequences in the film.

"I felt it was very important that the first action set piece be shot that way as it is the introduction to the Joker," Nolan explains. "We released that sequence in IMAX theaters six months before the film came out just to give people a taste of what we were trying to do. I wanted to shoot as much of the main of the film in IMAX as I could. I love the idea of creating cinema on the grandest possible scale."

Of course, IMAX cameras are much larger and heavier, "But we wanted to treat them as if we were filming with regular Panavision cameras. We didn't want it to restrict us," says Nathan Crowley. That meant commissioning larger mounts so the IMAX cameras could be attached to cranes and vehicles.

From a design standpoint, Crowley had to adjust for IMAX's magnified scope. "With a 35mm camera, you don't see that much floor and ceiling, and you rarely see both at the same time. But in 70mm, the detail is immense. I had to be very careful about details. You can't have a bad paint finish. You need to make stuff look perfect, and that's a lot more work."

The filmmakers are betting that work will pay off, and reach beyond the genre audience. "My hope is that people will come away saying, 'That was a great movie,' not 'That was a great comic book movie,'" differentiates story writer Goyer, who admits to thinking about a possible Part 3, but like his colleagues, deems it too early to discuss. "I think comic book fans will embrace it, but I'm hoping that it reaches a little further."

It will have to in order to recoup an estimated $150 million cost, but "The Dark Knight" is expected to open at No. 1 and could take in close to $100 million in its first weekend.

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  • Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer interviewed June 29, 2008.
  • Nathan Crowley interviewed July 2, 2008.