24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Dark Knight Rises

Christoper Nolan pulls a Guillermo del Toro

June 14, 2012 | 12:08 pm

Christopher Nolan pairs up with Wally Pfister

Despite his extensive cachet in the fan community, Christopher Nolan hasn't loaned out his name and wisdom to lesser-known filmmakers in the manner of, say, Guillermo del Toro. He's producing/shepherding "Man of Steel" and a supernatural thriller from a filmmaker named Keith Gordon and, well, that's about it.

But Nolan will make a rare attempt at the godfather routine on a new movie from Wally Pfister, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who has worked with Nolan on everything from "Memento" to "The Dark Knight Rises." Principals announced Wednesday that Nolan and wife/producing partner Emma Thomas will executive produce Pfister's untitled debut, which is currently coming together behind a veil of secrecy.

According to a person familiar with the production, the project is being cast now, with actors beginning to read the Jack Paglen script. The location for the production has not been determined, but the movie will shoot in the U.S., and could start as soon as fall 2012.

The project has some other interesting names on its pedigree -- it's being financed and produced by Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson from Alcon Entertainment ("The Blind Side"), was developed by a former Overture Films executive named Annie Marter and also now has the involvement of a company called Straight Up Films, which is next financing and producing a science-fiction thriller from the up-and-comers the Purchase Brothers.

What remains to be seen is Nolan's involvement -- though Pfister has discussed the film with him, the  director has been heavily involved in "The Dark Knight Rises" and hasn't even yet met with some key members of the creative team.

Nolan's influence can be felt on the movie in at least one way, however -- plot details and even a general log line are being kept under wraps.


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--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Christopher Nolan promoting "The Dark Knight Rises" at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Getty Images

MTV Movie Awards 2012: 'The Dark Knight Rises' makes its case

June 3, 2012 |  9:39 pm

The summer movie that needed the MTV Movie Awards the least got the biggest boost when the annual telecast aired live from the Gibson Amphitheatre on Sunday night.

The principals from "The Dark Knight Rises," a near-certain blockbuster when it hits U.S. theaters on July 20, made the franchise's first appearance at the cable network's annual movie-marketing bazaar.

Though the shrill show was something of an odd fit for the serious superhero film -- director Christopher Nolan intoned that "every great story demands a great ending" while star Christian Bale teared up over the death of Heath Ledger -- the presentation of new footage from the Batman picture scored hugely positive reactions in the room and on social media.

PHOTOS: MTV Movie Awards 2012 red carpet arrivals

The awards handed out by the cable network are generally seen as little more than a coronation of what's popular; indeed, "The Hunger Games" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" were among the big winners Sunday. But the reaction to the many pitches, both at the show and during commercial breaks, can be a useful barometer for the coming months at the multiplex, while the pitches themselves are an important tool for movies seeking an edge in a crowded summer marketplace.

Besides "Dark Knight," the movie perhaps getting the biggest boost was "Magic Mike," the Channing Tatum-Matthew McConaughey exotic-dancer story that will be released June 29. The two stars garnered a huge reaction from the room when they turned out to present the award for "Best Transformation," with the decibel level only rising when costar Joe Manganiello came out and did a striptease in which he simulated a sex act with an ax.

Not every movie was so blessed.

A bit featuring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester for their June 15 R-rated arrested-development comedy "That's My Boy" fell flat, raising questions about a movie that is already perceived as freighted with commercial challenges.

And though buzz is running high for "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's June 29 stuffed-animal comedy, stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis didn't  do the movie any favors with an awkward segment near the top of the show.

Mentions or appearances from stars of "Prometheus," "Rock of Ages" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" -- which hits U.S. theaters Friday, June 15 and July 3, respectively -- seemed to do little harm to the films but failed to significantly elevate or transform their profiles, either.

MTV heavily touted a new trailer for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the high-school dramedy starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. Though  Watson was ubiquitous at the show, the movie did not seem to emerge with a lot more awareness than it had coming in.

The awards were also marked by who wasn't there: some of the biggest stars and winners, including "The Hunger Games" pinup Jennifer Lawrence, "Harry Potter" heartthrob Daniel Radcliffe and "Twilight" megastar Rob Pattinson, prompting  Kristen Stewart to (attempt to) make out with herself while accepting a "Best Kiss" prize.

Sometimes. though, less can be more at the MTV Movie Awards.

 Katy Perry wasn't visible at the show, perhaps not surprising as her ex, Russell Brand, emceed from the stage. But a stream of commercials for the singer's July 5 documentary, "Katy Perry: Part of Me," combined with an awkward-landing Brand joke about his seeking a new wife, seemed only to boost the stock of the pop star and her upcoming movie.


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Christian Bale, left, and Christopher Nolan of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the MTV Movie Awards podium. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Nolan's 'Dark Knight Rises' dons an Occupy costume [Trailer]

December 20, 2011 |  6:31 am


Still photo from the next Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises"

We already knew Christopher Nolan was up to something topical with “The Dark Knight Rises” when he decided to shoot near Occupy Wall Street. Now we have a clearer sense of what that topic is.

As the Batman film's new trailer released online Monday suggests, it’s economic disparity and government response to organized protest, among other subjects.

Over a haunting rendition of a child singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" (lest there be any doubt about his national themes), Nolan offers us a peek at his haves-and-have-nots preoccupation when he has Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle whisper in the ear of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne a message from the 99%.

“You think this can last?" she says. "There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. And you and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”

The ante is upped with a quick shot of a tank taking aim at what appears to be a group people (protesters?) congregating on a City Hall-like building -- an image, incidentally, that also evokes the Arab Spring.

And if its patriotic themes weren’t evident enough, the big act of villainous violence happens at a football game — and as a kick returner is speeding to the end zone, no less. (Thomas Hardy, wearing a gas-mask, of course does villain honors as Bane, setting off explosions-cum-earthquakes behind the player.)

Nolan cut to the issues of the day with “The Dark Knight” in 2008, posing questions about the appropriate responses to terrorism and the nature of heroism in a post-Sept. 11 world. Here he swivels his gaze.

Not a lot of filmmakers would attempt to roll together Occupy, Egypt and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in one cinematic package, let alone in one with superheroes. But Nolan is, as ever, thinking big, with his typical blend of flash and seriousness. 

The movie opens July 20, with footage currently showing before some screenings of "Mission: Impossible."


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Warner Bros.

'Dark Knight Rises' stars: We feel the pressure

December 2, 2011 |  7:22 pm

"The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third and final movie in his Batman trilogy,  is still more than seven months from hitting theaters. But as the hype grows around the superhero picture, so does the pressure on the people involved with it.

In separate interviews, Christian Bale, who of course plays the lead character, and Gary Oldman, who stars as police honcho James Gordon, each acknowledged how the rising noise can take its toll..

"In terms of box office, I don't feel any pressure,” Bale told 24 Frames. “I never saw Batman and Bruce Wayne as a big tent pole. It was just another character I love playing. But I do feel a creative pressure. It would be wrong if I didn’t feel that.”

Meanwhile, Oldman, whose character, promoted to police commissioner in the last film, remains one of the few who knows Batman’s secrets, said he was keeping the expectations at bay by drawing a distinction.

“It's more pressure on Chris [Nolan] than on me,” Oldman said, when asked how he was handling it. “If they feel disappointed with Gordon, that’s one thing. If they feel disappointed with the movie, that’s another."

The actor added that even though the third installments of franchises often don't live up to the first and second editions, he didn’t think fans should fret. "Chris is too  classy to make a movie just for the sake of doing a third one,” he said, adding, "It’s a terrific story, and it’s going to be epic.” (Said fans will have a chance to decide for themselves when new footage is shown at some Imax screenings of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” beginning later this month, as our sister Hero Complex blog reports.)

Coincidentally, both Bale and Oldman will bring out new movies this month too — Bale, the China-set historical drama "The Flowers of War," and Oldman, the John le Carré espionage period piece "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" — and have been hitting the circuit to promote them.

Oldman, who has seen the marketing and fanboy culture change exponentially in the three decades since he entered the acting business, said he didn’t expect the buzz to quiet down for "Dark Knight Rises." "I think it’s already won a prize for most anticipated film or something." He repeated the thought. "It’s won a prize — and we haven’t even finished shooting the thing yet.”


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Photo: Tom Hardy in "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Warner Bros.

Will Nolan's 'Dark Knight Rises' occupy Wall Street?

October 17, 2011 |  7:43 pm

"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.

'Dark Knight's' Jonathan Nolan takes his tales to TV

August 2, 2011 |  4:55 pm


You hardly need to be a fanboy to know or appreciate the work of Jonathan Nolan. The younger brother of Christopher Nolan has collaborated with his sibling on some of the more inventive movies of the last decade, writing “The Prestige,” "The Dark Knight" and next summer’s hotly anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises." He also wrote the short story on which “Memento” was based.

Now Nolan is taking a leap into television, co-creating and executive-producing a new J.J. Abrams-shepherded show, this fall's conspiracy thriller “Person of Interest” on CBS. But is Nolan feeling OK about stepping away from a movie world in which he's been a relatively important player?

“One of the things I was drawn to with TV is that you get to see the fruits of your labor right away," he told 24 Frames. "Even when everything is going perfectly [in film], two or three years have gone by. And sometimes it’s six or seven. You’re not the same person, and you’re lucky if you even remember writing it.”

Moreover, Nolan said, it could be frustrating writing for film; the canvas, he said, sometimes felt too limited, even with an iconic character like Batman. “Working on a franchise, you come to really know the voice of a character — and then when you’re done you have to throw the character away," he said. "There’s something kind of tragic about that."

Nolan acknowledged that he was at least a little nervous about the opposite problem — coming up with stories that can last for dozens if not hundreds of episodes. “You do have to go in knowing you’re telling a really big story, and you have to know to save things for later,” he said. (More on "Person of Interest," which stars Jim Caviezel as a down-on-his-luck former government operative who sets about protecting mysterious strangers, in print and on our Show Tracker blog in the coming weeks.)

Nolan said he wouldn’t rule out a return to film but was happy to toil on the small screen for now. “None of these things are easy. A film is a sprint and a TV show is a marathon, and with a marathon you better come up with these interesting characters from the beginning," he said. "The goal is to do the opposite of a movie. By the end of movies, or at least of my movies, everyone’s kind of dead. And [my television partner] has been impressing upon me that in TV you kind of have to keep people alive."


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— Steven Zeitchik



Photo: Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight." Credit: Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Rises' rises [Trailer]

July 18, 2011 |  5:59 pm

"If you make yourself more than just a man," the teaser for director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" begins, " ... you become something else entirely." Thus begins the string of clues about the next Batman movie.

There aren't a lot of details beyond that bit of portent -- an apparently hospitalized Commissioner Gordon, a quick shot of a fight scene -- but it seems more than enough to pique the interest of fans. The film is likely to be among the hot topics at this weekend's Comic-Con convention in San Diego (even sans Nolan or an announced "Dark Knight Rises" panel). The teaser's closing shot, which has the camera swooping down from above the Gotham skyscape, is enough to give one the visual scope of Nolan's new film even on a tiny computer screen.

The Batman movie hits just about a year from now -- with a lot more clues like this to come in the interim. Take a look:



-- Steven Zeitchik



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