In an unprecedented move, director Christopher Nolan is filming four sequences in the next installment of Warner Bros. Pictures' Batman franchise, The Dark Knight, with extremely high resolution IMAX cameras using the giant 15/70 film format. The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures. While it is not unique for a feature lensed on traditional 35mm film to be re-mastered to screen in IMAX theatres, this marks the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras, marking a revolutionary integration of the two film formats.
The marriage of footage filmed with IMAX and 35mm cameras in the final feature will have a major impact on the audience's viewing experience, whether seeing The Dark Knight in an IMAX or traditional theatre. When the scenes shot on IMAX cameras are shown in IMAX theatres, the aspect ratio will morph to 1.43 to 1, expanding the image to fill the entire screen and magnifying the overall effect, both literally and figuratively.
In making the announcement, Jeff Robinov stated, "Warner Bros. has always been committed to advancing the art of filmmaking. The use of IMAX cameras to film select scenes in an action feature is a great step forward in big-screen entertainment, especially in the talented hands of Christopher Nolan. We can't wait to see the results, and we think audiences will share our excitement when the movie opens on July 18, 2008."
The first of the scenes, including a prologue that introduces Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker, was shot in April, several weeks in advance of the actual start of principal photography. Additional selected scenes are being filmed with IMAX cameras during the course of production on The Dark Knight.
Director Christopher Nolan added, "In continuing the story of such a great icon I'm thrilled to be able to expand the scope of the film, not just in terms of its story, but in giving Batman and The Joker the largest possible canvas on which to face off. No existing technology compares with the IMAX format in terms of its ability to throw the audience into the action, and we're very proud and excited to use this technology in a way that no one has before."
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution, offered, "Chris has been a huge fan of IMAX technology for a long time. It will be a groundbreaking event to see him incorporate the use of IMAX cameras into the 35mm presentation of The Dark Knight when it opens nationwide on July 18, 2008, day-and-date with IMAX theatres."
"Mr. Nolan's enthusiasm towards IMAX, combined with the success of Batman Begins in IMAX theatres underscores the significant impact that The IMAX Experience® has on audiences and the role IMAX can play in providing filmmakers with innovative ways to deliver movies," said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "We are very excited to continue breaking new ground with Warner Bros. Pictures, and we look forward to sharing Mr. Nolan's new picture with our customers and their patrons next summer."
Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment, added, "Chris shares our vision that the moviegoing experience should transport audiences into the action. His innovative use of IMAX cameras to film scenes in The Dark Knight will allow our crystal clear images, 14 thousand watts of digital surround sound, and screens up to eight-stories tall to give Batman fans the most immersive cinematic experience in the world. It is entertainment in a big, big way."
This is not the first time that Warner Bros. Pictures has set a new standard in its association with IMAX. Christopher Nolan's 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins was the first action feature to play on IMAX screens in museums as well as multiplexes, after being digitally remastered for the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR® technology.
In 2006, Superman Returns became the world's first live-action feature to have selected segments converted from 2D into IMAX 3D. Most recently, the mega-hit 300 obliterated all previous attendance records at IMAX theatres in its record-breaking opening weekend in March.
The follow-up to the action hit Batman Begins, The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. In the new film, Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.
The film also stars Academy Award winner Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules) as Alfred; Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) as arch-villain The Joker; Gary Oldman as Lieutenant Jim Gordon; Aaron Eckhart as District Attorney Harvey Dent, who becomes better known as another of Batman's arch-nemeses, Two-Face; Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes; and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) as Lucius Fox.