"The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third film in the Batman trilogy, has been shooting in Los Angeles in recent weeks. But the Christian Bale-led production is now set to make a trip to New York and could be heading to a fraught locale: the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Under its code name "Magnus Rex," the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures production will arrive in the nation's biggest city for 14 days starting Oct. 29, according to a casting notice recently issued by producers. And, according to a person briefed on actors’ schedules who requested anonymity because production details were being kept confidential, cast members have been told the shoot could include scenes shot at the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Occupy Wall Street is of course the movement that began in Lower Manhattan and has since spread to other cities, including downtown Los Angeles. It marked its 30th day on Monday and in New York has gathered supporters at Zuccotti Park downtown as well as in locations in Midtown Manhattan and elsewhere in the city. It seeks to bring attention to banking deregulation, Wall Street bonuses and other practices that supporters say threaten the prospects of the working- and middle class.
While it's unclear what shape the protean movement will take in the coming weeks, the demonstrations will almost certainly be continuing during the period that "The Dark Knight Rises" shoots in New York. While the person who’d been told of the plans said the protests could figure into the production, they said that doesn't mean they will be included in the storyline.
In other words, Nolan, who's known for carefully planning out scenes months in advance, wouldn’t necessarily be tweaking the script; he’d simply be using the protests as a backdrop or a stand-in for something that already exists in the film.
It should be noted that Nolan is known for tossing out red herrings. The director has said, for instance, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play police officer John Blake and Marion Cotillard will star as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate — even though neither character is a part of the Batman mythology (leading some to believe the announcement was merely a cover for their real roles).
A Warner Bros. spokeswoman confirmed the production was headed to New York but would not elaborate further. Nolan does not currently have a publicist.
"The Dark Knight Rises" has already shot in locations ranging from Jodhpur, India, to Pittsburgh.
Like so much connected to “Rises,” exactly which scenes are scheduled to be shot in New York remain a secret. According to the casting call, interested actors should have "military and/or law enforcement training/experience, weapons training, and/or martial arts training."
But using a real-life location like the Occupy Wall Street protests — particularly in the city nicknamed Gotham — would add an element of gritty authenticity to 'Rises." It also would fit with the franchise's preoccupation with themes of urban order and civil unrest, which "Dark Knight" explored at length.
It’s unclear how protesters would react if cameras for “The Dark Knight Rises” were nearby. A former independent-film director, Nolan wouldn’t seem to have much in common with Wall Street fat cats. But he is overseeing a $250-million production financed by one of the world's largest media conglomerates.
On the other hand, some demonstrators may find that the film accords with their mission. The casting call says that characters will inhabit "a city besieged by crime and corruption." That’s almost like a description you’d read on a, well, Occupy Wall Streeter's protest sign.
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— Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight." Credit: Warner Bros.