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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Batman II (VI) – The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger as The Joker for Chris Nolan.
Old news. Now offical. But I couldn’t stand looking at Travolta on the top of the page either.
ADD 9:48p – The full press release…
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN TO DIRECT
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

91 Responses to “Batman II (VI) – The Dark Knight”

  1. palmtree says:

    Source?

  2. Geoff says:

    Loved Batman Begins, the film has been in heavy rotation on HBO, lately, and between that and 40 Year Old Virgin, I never change the channel when either of them are on.
    Heath Ledger is certainly not an obvious choice, but I have faith in Nolan. Look at how perfectly dialed down he had Robin Williams in Insomnia.
    Next thing I wanna hear is how the whole original cast is returning, except Katie Holmes.
    After Superman’s failure, do we think Warner’s is going to hedge on this and spend less or are they going to bet the ranch?
    Dark Knight is a cool choice for a title, but I have a feeling that it will eventually be Batman: The Dark Knight. No way Batman is not going to be in that title, just can’t see the studio willing to risk it. Summer 2008 cannot come, soon enough.

  3. Eddie says:

    Michael Keaton would’ve made a great Joker. Oh well. Maybe in the next relaunch.
    In the meantime, bring on The Dark Knight!

  4. palmtree says:

    OH…saw the headline finally.
    Heath is an odd choice, but it goes with the trend of hiring non-Americans (Caine, Oldman, Bale).

  5. jeffmcm says:

    This would be Batman VI, not V. (2 Burtons, 2 Schumachers, 2 Nolans.)

  6. martin says:

    Jeff, we don’t count Batman and Robin – not a real Batman movie.

  7. Telemachos says:

    Cool title, cool guy to have as The Joker. With the stellar important guys returning (Bale, Oldman, Caine) and Nolan directing, this is at the very top of my “can’t wait” list.

  8. Aladdin Sane says:

    Awesome Martin.
    This is a cool casting choice. Can’t wait ’till 2008!

  9. jeffmcm says:

    Is Jack Nicholson still getting a percentage of the gross of the Nolan movies, as per his deal for the 1989 movie?

  10. Lota says:

    the name surprised me but I was so happy that Batman Begins wasnt another “Batman and Robin”, I’m inclined to trust Nolan’s judgement.

  11. Dan Geiser says:

    I hate this news. I so wanted Vincent Cassel for the role. He would’ve knocked it out of the park.

  12. Monco says:

    Great title, great director, great actors, a sequel to the greatest comic book movie ever, this is going to be one hell of a picture. I may be the only one but I absolutely love Ledger as the Joker, perfectly fits the tone the Nolan has set up with the first one. Also the title being a nod the the legendary Frank Miller graphic novel is perfect. This could the superhero movie to end all superhero movies.

  13. Wrecktum says:

    If Nolan ever learns how to direct and cut an action set piece, this might actually turn out to be a good movie.

  14. sky_capitan says:

    I like Ledger as the Joker and in general keeping the villains in the same age bracket as Bale.
    -> Katie Holmes cannot return I like Ledger as the Joker and in general keeping the villains in the same age bracket as Bale.
    -> Katie Holmes cannot return <-
    They wouldn’t be stupid enough to ask her back, would they?

  15. Arrow77 says:

    I think they could bring her back to kill her off. It would be a better idea than Batman having a new “love of his life” with each new film.

  16. Dan Geiser says:

    Unless one of Batman’s motivations in the 2nd film is that Katie Holmes was killed in between the 1st and 2nd movies.

  17. Josh Massey says:

    If you’re not going to count “Batman and Robin,” I can’t see how you would count “Forever” or even Burton’s two flicks. They all sucked ass.
    And yeah, I agree it will be “Batman: The Dark Knight” once it hits theaters. I would have loved Michael Keaton too, but Ledger has some chops.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Weren’t some WB execs on record last summer as saying that Katie Holmes would not be invited back? I would be perfectly happy if they totally forgot about her and her teen DA character.

  19. Josh Massey says:

    Weirder casting news: According to Cinescape, Brett Ratner has talked Roman Polanski into acting in “Rush Hour 3.”
    For a guy that’s rumored to have schtupped Lindsay Lohan, that sounds like perfect casting.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Ratner or Polanski?

  21. Tofu says:

    So… Will it be…
    Batman: Dark Knight?
    Batman: The Dark Knight?
    Batman Begins: The Dark Knight?
    Batman Begins 2: The Dark Knight?
    Or just…
    The Dark Knight?
    Because, yes, that MIGHT confuse some people, but hey, James Bond does this all the time.
    Otherwise, awesome news. Just love it.

  22. Josh Massey says:

    Jeff: It’s Ratner who has been seen out on the town with Lohan. The things you learn reading Defamer…

  23. Blackcloud says:

    Keeping “Begins” in the title would be pointless. Batman already began, so it would mean he’s still beginning, which is dumb.

  24. Josh Massey says:

    “Batman Keeps Going: The Dark Knight – Joking Around.”
    I should be an exec.

  25. Aladdin Sane says:

    I brought it up over on Jeff Wells blog, so it bears mentioning here, that Ryan Philippe as Harvey Dent would be an interesting off center choice. (someone else there said it was the reported rumor at the same time).
    Interesting that Nolan’s brother is writing the screenplay.
    I could see the film being promoted with just the Bat insignia as a background and the words, ‘The Dark Knight’ in the foreground. People would probably end up calling it ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’.
    So my bet is that the first teaser shows up on ‘Transformers’ next summer…

  26. Eddie says:

    Philippe seems a little young, but I think he would be a good Two-Face. I like the idea of Liev Schreiber as well.
    If they wanted to go older, and a little unexpected, I bet William Macy would do a terrific job.
    Or if they wanted to right a wrong–How about Billy Dee?

  27. Schreiber would OWN as Dent. He’s the guy Nolan wants, but with the latest peripheral casting possibilities for the role popping up, I’m beginning to think Schreiber may have passed. Otherwise, Chris Noth would be an AWESOME Dent.

  28. Geoff says:

    This movie is going to kick ass, Ledger is a pretty cool choice. It would not surprise me if they went the Bourne Supremacy route and had Katie Holmes do an early cameo, only to have her character killed off. That would probably be the best way to go.
    Is Morgan Freeman coming back? I certainly hope so. His scenes with Bale really had a nice Bond & Q quality in the last film.
    If they’re starting production in early ’07, I’m guessing they’re going to have a teaser ready for Spiderman 3 in early May.

  29. ployp says:

    I don’t understand why they have to have the Joker as the next villain. I don’t know much about Batman. Is Joker THE nemesis? Isn’t he already in the original Batman?

  30. Spacesheik says:

    Liev Schrieber would have been a great choice for TWO-FACE or even Nolan regular Guy Pierce. I wouldn’t mind seeing James Spader in that part either; he has this smart neurotic edge to him.

  31. EDouglas says:

    “I don’t understand why they have to have the Joker as the next villain. I don’t know much about Batman. Is Joker THE nemesis? Isn’t he already in the original Batman?”
    Because Joker *is* the Batman villain, in the comics, cartoons and TV show and if you’re going to reboot the character in the movies, you have to bring back Joker pretty quickly. It actually makes more sense than having Scarecrow (a minor villain) and Ras Al Ghul (a major villain but not so known outside the comics) in the first movie. I think it would be good to reintroduce Joker, Two-Face, The Penguin and other villains just so people know that Nolan’s Batman is not the Burton/Schumaker one. There are many rumors already swirling that Dark Knight will reintroduce much of Batman’s rogues gallery and not just Joker.

  32. Aladdin Sane says:

    More than any villain, the Joker is the closest resemblance to Batman…
    There was an instance in the comics a few years ago where Batman was totally going to kill the Joker, and Gordon held a gun to Batman’s head and tells him that he can’t become that which made him. That he is allowed to protect the city because the law fails at times, but if he kills someone, even as deserving as the Joker, then he has crossed that fine line.
    So yeah, you need to have the Joker show up in these films, and you do not kill him off at the end of it. That would be a major mistake in my books. Even if they don’t plan on using him any time soon, the thought of him stewing in an insane asylum, waiting to escape – that needs to be there.
    I think it made sense to start the reboot off with a couple of lesser villains, since they had not been seen by movie going audiences, but now they’ll wanna see familiar names, and none is more infamous than Mr. J!

  33. MarkVH says:

    I’d be ok with Katie Holmes coming back. She wasn’t perfect in the first film, but I didn’t hate her – it was mostly how she was written (every line out of her mouth seemed to come from a fortune cookie).
    For me, though, the best way to bring her back would be as such: Have Joker learn her importance to Batman (if not necessarily Bruce), kidnap and torture her until she’s as insane as he is – thereby becoming Harley Quinn. I know Harley’s not an actual comic character (was introduced in the Animated Series, I believe), but as Joker is Batman’s absolute nemesis (i.e. he gets in his head more than any other villain), this would give Batman a great reason to really hate him. Plus, Holmes is the right age and has the right look for Quinn – she can be cutely sinister-looking, as long as she doesn’t ham it up.
    Or he could just kill her off in the first 15 minutes, which would probably do it, too (and I suspect this is what will happen). Just don’t make it a Joker origin, a la Batman 1 (as he’s already been teased in Begins, I don’t imagine Nolan will do this).

  34. MarkVH says:

    Agreed, Aladdin. Do NOT kill him off. Hell, make it Empire-Strikes-Backish and have Joker freakin’ win at the end. I imagine after the cash raked in by Begins, the suits at WB would allow for this.

  35. Eric says:

    I have never seen nerd gushing on this blog quite like this thread.
    But shiiiiiiiiiit, I ain’t hatin’– Batman Begins was AWESOME.
    It would be a mistake to introduce a huge number of new villains in the sequel. Two of the things that made the first so great was the time spent on character development and the focus on Batman himself, rather than a revolving door of villains.
    I’d like to see a Joker plot and a new Harvey Dent, preferably played by Liev Schrieber, but still the district attorney and not Two-Face yet.

  36. so i guess it’s official, what about Phillip Seymour Hoffman as penguin…also, were did “the dark knight” come from…was this just revealed for the 1st time in this press release.
    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  37. Martin S says:

    Holmes’ character has been out for some time in favor of Ras Al Ghul’s daughter, Thalia.
    Ledger is a poor choice. I don’t know why Nolan went for it…totally agent driven. You don’t go from Bettany, Hulme and Weaving to Ledger without some pushing by execs and handlers. If WB was so afraid of casting an unknown as Joker, they should have gone with Brody or Joaquin.
    How much is ledger going to cost? 15 Mil? This is the same approach they took to Luthor and look how that went. Never forget that Bale was cast because Horn and Robinov tracked online who was most wanted for the role. Nolan did not cast him. So depending on who ends up as Dent will tell how much of this is Nolan and how much is WB.

  38. waterbucket says:

    Am I the only one wanting Katie Holmes to come back? I thought she was wonderful and Tom Cruise cannot just ruin her career like that.

  39. Tofu says:

    Martin S, do you have any sources on any of that?
    Holmes’ return is blocked by only one thing, which is WB angry at her for her terrible marketing junkets. Hell, Letterman asked her movie to see that summer, Batman or War of the Worlds, to which she replied that she had to back ‘her man’. Ouch.
    15 million for Ledger?!? Please. No one is seeing those figures for The Dark Knight.

  40. repeatfather says:

    “It would be a mistake to introduce a huge number of new villains in the sequel. Two of the things that made the first so great was the time spent on character development and the focus on Batman himself, rather than a revolving door of villains.”
    I agree, but one thing I liked about the first movie was that it wasn’t a mano y mano showdown between superhero and supervillain like most comic book movies are. Nolan’s Gotham had a multi-headed hydra of bad guys circulating the city (Falcone, Raz Al Gul, Scarecrow, etc.) I really like the idea that the movie could create a world where there are a number of villains – it makes the movie world that much more unpredictable.

  41. Eric says:

    RepeatFather, that’s a good point. I assumed a worst-case scenario, which would be something like “Batman and Robin”– in which supervillains team up for no discernible reason, for the sole purpose of, you know, getting Batman.
    My concern is that the Joker is already a little silly, and his presence will move the new series a little further from the reality of the first movie. It can be done, but toss in a handful of supervillains and it becomes a cartoon.

  42. frankbooth says:

    “Am I the only one wanting Katie Holmes to come back?”
    Yes. I don’t think it was Cruise who ruined her career. I think it was the fact that she appeared to be the head pom-pom girl playing district attorney in the school play, dressed up in her mom’s work clothes. If not for her connections to Tom, she would never have been cast in the first place.
    I’m not sure there’s any truth to the rumor that she learned her lines phonetically, especially since I just started it.
    Martin S, your comments ring true. Ledger is an odd choice, and not quite right physically, and he feels like flavor of the month. But he did just prove himself as an actor, I trust Nolan and I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. It could have been Robin Williams–disaster!
    I thought Nicholson was too campy, too old and definitely too fat, so I’m looking forward to a clean start. Maybe they can do something with makeup or digitally “elongate” Ledger in some way. Or he can just yank out his rear molars and wear oversized fake choppers. Didn’t Dennis Quaid do something like that when he played Doc Holiday?

  43. Hopscotch says:

    I was secretly hoping for Paul Bettany to get the part. But however you feel about Brokeback, Ledger gave an amazing performance. i hope he can give another. I wasn’t exactly as jazzed about Batman Begins as others, but I thought it was solid for sure.

  44. Hopscotch says:

    I think it’s pretty universally agreed that Holmes stunk up the first movie. Now, those parts are usually paper thin and cliched to begin with so I can cut her slack. But she was just agrivating to watch. I’ve never cared for her onscreen. Albeit for a few joyus seconds in “The Gift”. Holy Tomatoes. Wonder if cruise will have paramount digitize those out or something.

  45. waterbucket says:

    Katie Holmes did Batman Begins before she even met Tom Cruise so she got the part all on her own merits. If you’re gonna hate, then hate with logical reasons, thank you very much.

  46. Telemachos says:

    Katie Holmes is fine as an actress, but she was simply miscast in BB. She still looks like a teenager…. maybe someone in her early twenties and in college. Casting her as a tough assistant DA was ridiculous, but I would’ve bought her as a law student who’s clerking on the side.

  47. PetalumaFilms says:

    I really like the Ledger casting news…he can act. He was awesome in the little seen LORDS OF DOGTOWN. People forget it was even him.
    As far as the villains thing goes…
    At the end of BATMAN BEGINS Gordon gives Batman that joker card….they kinda have to have him because of that. Not to mention a shit ton of inmates escaped Arkham Asylum so that needs to be fleshed out in the form of looney villains. All I know is, I’m more of a GEEK than I thought and DARK KNIGHT is going to be awesome!

  48. THX5334 says:

    Okay, I can see the Ledger casting. Heath does seem to have a really wide smile and a dark edge. Though Vincent Cassel definitely has the look down. But could he lose the heavy French accent?
    The thing I am a little more concerned with that no one has mentioned is that Goyer isn’t handling script duties and is instead Nolan’s brother.
    I’m not trying to take anything away from Nolan’s bro. I know he is a very accomplished writer. But Goyer knows comics. And his screenplay for Batman Begins was phenomenal. I feel the narrative is what makes that film and you can feel there’s a real love and respect for the source material.
    Now, that being said. This is Hollywood, and for all we know, Goyer got the credit but it WAS Nolan’s brother who made the first script as badass as it was? Hence, there’s no problem with Nolan taking over primary duties. Anybody know the score? Martin S? You always know the inside angle.
    And I have to agree that Nolan really needs to learn how to shoot action. The framing and cutting on many of those sequences in Batman Begins is horrible.
    As someone at Chud.com theorized, maybe they had problems shooting around the Batsuit?
    But those really need to be reworked. I would like to see some full frame shots of Batman in his suit doing some badass martial arts a la the comics.
    Burtons’ ’89 film at least has a couple of wide shots of Batman ducking and dodging moves.
    You notice the film has many decent action pieces around the suit to make up for it.
    Seriously. If we’re going to see Batman and Joker duke it out. It better not be in close, tight, chaotic shooting and cutting – to “try and get you right in there!” I am so sick of that excuse and that style created by the Borne films.
    For all of Lucas’ problems with narrative, at least he knows how to frame and shoot action.
    And, lastly, I love it when the people on this blog “Geek Out” because you can do that, and still have an intelligent conversation about the material, unlike most sites. So Thank You.

  49. THX5334 says:

    “You notice the film has many decent action pieces around the suit to make up for it.”
    *Amend to say:
    You notice the film has many decent action pieces AWAY FROM the suit to make up for it.
    Thanks!

  50. Richard Nash says:

    Ledger should bring a lot to the role. I do not think we’ll see many Nicholson comparisons because of the age of the character but I think he’ll be able to hold his own. Nolan crafted a good start to the story. Hopefully he can keep it up.

  51. jeffmcm says:

    I thought that most of the lightsaber sequences in Revenge of the Sith were roughly equivalent in terms of flow and speed to the fight sequences in Batman Begins.

  52. jeffmcm says:

    By which I mean, I thought they were of very similar quality.

  53. THX5334 says:

    Whatever you wanna say about quality Jeff, I don’t care. My point is, “you can follow the action” in Sith (And I didn’t single out Sith at all)
    I said that Lucas’s composition of the shots and the framing of the action and the cutting is much more discernable than the chaotic mess of the Batman sequences where Batman is fighting.
    And I don’t really need to get into a debate on this with you Jeff, because you’ll simply lose. The evidence is just plain on the screen in both pieces as to what I’m talking about.
    Bottom line: The composition of the shots and cuts in Batman Begins with Batman in the suits were many times incoherent. You cannot say the same of the action sequences in the prequals. Whether you feel

  54. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t know how I’m going to lose your argument if you’re just going to cut out like that.
    My point was that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the fight scenes in Batman Begins. Maybe that’s a testament to how well they were edited.

  55. THX5334 says:

    “I don’t know how I’m going to lose your argument if you’re just going to cut out like that.”
    Fair Point. Not my intention.
    I don’t remember anything other than medium shots and closeups when Batman is in his suit fighting. And that’s kinda what you want to see in a movie like this right? The full man in his costume glory whooping all kinds of ass.
    Conversely, the shots of them sword fighting during the training sequences are shot and framed so you can follow the action, and they’re very fluid.
    Again, I am with the belief that they had problems with the suit.
    But if you’re going to have Batman face the Joker, you better learn how to shoot your action where you can actually SEE Batman being Batman. Again From my recollection, it was mostly close-ups and medium shots quickly cut together (other than that cool move where Batman hoists thay guy off the ground while he’s firing his gun. That was inventive, I’ll give them that).
    Nolan has got to fix that for the next one, imho.
    Again, I love this movie. I think it’s a testament to the screenplay and the narrative design they went with that it holds up as strongly as it does, even though the actual “Batman” fight scenes were incoherent (for me).
    Anyone in the know, know if it was costume issues on how they shot those scenes, or does Nolan (as the above poster stated) not know how to shoot action?

  56. THX5334 says:

    Also, does anyone feel they might have story or script problems without Goyer at the helm? Or is Nolan’s brother going to elevate the material?

  57. jeffmcm says:

    I only remember one fight scene in the suit in the whole movie, and that’s when he’s fighting Falcone’s men around the docks. That scene was clearly edited to be quick and jarring because it was more about the fear he was engendering in Falcone and his men than about cool stunts. But you could be right about other scenes.
    Goyer’s had a good run, but the climax of Batman Begins is kind of anti-climactic. Meanwhile, Jonathan Nolan’s only released credit is Memento, so let’s see how The Prestige turns out.

  58. palmtree says:

    Did Jonathan come up with the concept for Memento before Chris or did they come up with it together?
    By the way, the short story Memento Mori effectively works as a backstory to the movie, but is a separate piece.

  59. Tofu says:

    The confused fighting in the dock scene was clearly done on purpose, and stated as such. However, the fight between the ninja guard on the rooftops, and the final fight inside the train were indeed too tight. The fighting style itself (Keysi) is quite brutal and fast, so catching many of the movements is a challenge, but when done right… Just stand back!
    Nolan strikes me as someone who listen to comments and reactions of viewers and fans, so I’m eagerly expecting much wider shot confrontations in Dark Knight.
    Memento Mori was written before Memento, and then published after the release of the film. The loss of Goyer is likely positive. Goyer’s scripts move and read like true popcorn, but amount to nothing too climatic on the screen.

  60. Martin S says:

    Tofu – Thalia has been in the cards from when Goyer penned the intial 3-story arc because he’s all about the Lazarus Pit. Nolan and Goyer each confirmed she was in the mix for different interviews around the time of the DVD IIRC. I’ll do a search when I have a chance.
    Caine, Oldman, Freeman, Bale – all 3 pic deals.
    THX – the deal with Goyer is strange. He’s the start of the current bad blood between WB and Marvel. The guy was being groomed to be Arad’s right-hand for Marvel Films, but then Horn, in a sign of things to come with Singer, swiped him away for Batman after he signed to write/direct Blade: Trinity. Arad was pissed, but really couldn’t do anything. Goyer then shat-out Blade 3 while outlining one helluva of a Batman trilogy which really pissed Arad off so he killed Goyer’s Ghost Rider/Dr. Strange deals at Sony. Goyer’s work on Begins got him the rights to do Flash, but Blade 3’s bombing brought that film to a crawl. Somewhere along this line, Nolan decided to move ahead with Goyer’s Batman2 treatment. From what I know, Goyer more-or-less split because he thought Flash was a done deal. Now, he’s supposedly doing the ghostwrite on Thor, which puts him back at Marvel, which means his time with WB seems to be over, and Arad has forgiven the guy because Zak Penn is about as stale as a saltine when it comes to writing.If I had to bet, Nolan’s brother is for pure collaboration – research, bounce ideas, type in the draft, etc…
    Regarding the action in BB, Nolan,(paraphrasing him), wanted tight shots because he was trying to create a sense of proximity and also he thoguht of the batsuit like a monster in a horror film. The dock sequence is a perfect distillation of scenes from Alien, and the group fight has the same tightness as when Parker is being killed by the Alien. The fights, overall, are very similar to how Donner shot Lethal Weapon – cramped, quick edits. If anything, it shows what he grew up with. I also have to believe it was an attempt to mimic the Bourne films.

  61. palmtree says:

    “Memento Mori was written before Memento, and then published after the release of the film.”
    Yeah, when it was published in Esquire, the preface said that they both came up with the concept together…Jonathan decided to write a story based on it and Chris decided to make a movie. My question was just whether Jonathan had a clear hand in the filmmaking process or was his only role in the origination of the idea.

  62. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    “How much is ledger going to cost? 15 Mil?”
    Ledger is NOT receiving $15mil for any movie.
    Anyway, I am LOVING the casting of Heath. He has been on such a role lately (you guys haven’t seen Candy on your side of the ocean yet, but he’s great in it) and hopefully this and I’m Not There will provide a great 1-2 punch again. I can see it, mostly because of his figdety nature and his grin. Have you SEEN him smile?
    Agreed that the title should be Batman: The Black Knight or something like that.
    But at least that puts the rest the fear of all these superhero movies just regurgitating each others’ titles.

  63. Martin S says:

    I threw out 15M for ledger because, well…isn’t that the real point for him taking this role? Is this not the typical “get-an-oscar-nod-and-capitalize-on-it-with-blockbuster-role-plus-payday” outlined so perfectly by Halle and Affleck?
    It’s a two-pic deal, so if he’s getting less than 12 than his agent hasn’t done their job.

  64. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Thing is, Catwoman and DareDevil are, for lack of a better word, absolute dog shit. And Ledger didn’t even WIN from his nomination (although we all know he should’ve, right? RIGHT!)
    Besides, it’s not like Ledger has moved directly from Brokeback to this. He made Candy and Casanova after it and signed on to I’m Not Here a long time ago (which, coincidentally, started to film yesterday!!) And, if we learned anything from Ledger not wanting to be in Spiderman all those years ago, it’s that Ledger will not simple star in a big budget blockbuster for the sake of it.
    Isn’t it better that he’s doing his blockbuster move in this franchise rather than the likes of Berry, Affleck, Theron, etc did. It seems that movie people look at Batman Begins with at least some positive light.
    So, basically, your point is null and void. Thank you. 😛

  65. Tofu says:

    It has just occured to me that if Philip Seymour Hoffman fills the role of The Penguin, he will be playing second string to Ledger’s Joker… A funny turn of events after the 2006 Academy Awards.
    Bale is working with Ledger on “I’m Not Here”, but do they have any scenes together? It is also interesting to note that Jake Gyllenhaal was THIS close to becoming Batman, until the Bale audition edged him out, leading him to go on and shoot Brokeback Mountain.
    The connections never cease!

  66. Eric says:

    Gyllenhaal as Batman? Disaster averted. What is it with the sensitive superheroes these days? I’m just not feeling it.

  67. Hopscotch says:

    Will Smith was almost in the Matrix.
    Hanks was almost in Field of Dreams and Jerry Maguire.
    Costner was almost in Apollo 13.
    Some young guy was Aragorn for a couple of weeks before Viggo came in.
    casting decisions are one of the fascinating things about the movies, and are great conversation. Gyllenhall as Batman? yeah, that would not have been pretty. Anyone seen the trailer for Ghost Rider? WOW! The tagline might well as be “if you LOVED Daredevil, you’ll like this piece of crap too”.

  68. the keoki says:

    I read the Penguin thing too. Is that a done deal or just a rumor at this point? And how do we know that Ledger’s deal is for two pictures?

  69. Tofu says:

    Warner Bros. is being aggressive about casting Hoffman, but I would be surprised to see any news on this part anytime soon. They likely want to space these press releases out, just as they did for the Begins casting. The high pedigree announcements just kept rolling out month after month for that one, and the internet following had become quite hopeful and defensive for the film because of it.

  70. THX5334 says:

    “Regarding the action in BB, Nolan,(paraphrasing him), wanted tight shots because he was trying to create a sense of proximity and also he thoguht of the batsuit like a monster in a horror film. The dock sequence is a perfect distillation of scenes from Alien, and the group fight has the same tightness as when Parker is being killed by the Alien. The fights, overall, are very similar to how Donner shot Lethal Weapon – cramped, quick edits. If anything, it shows what he grew up with. I also have to believe it was an attempt to mimic the Bourne films.”
    Well, I’m sorry, but he got a lot of incoherence instead (just like much of the second Bourne film).
    And I should’ve specified, that I wasn’t referring to the dock fight scene. How can you bitch about the shots of the Batman fighting being too tight when that sequence is mostly thugs disappearing into the darkness?
    No, I meant the Ninja Gaurd rooftop fight, and the final fight at the end.
    What the hell was Nolan thinking that the Batsuit “looked like a monster”. Were talking about Batman in a night scene, fighting a bunch futuristically armored Ninjas.
    And no one said, “Hey let’s get a couple of wide shots so we can actually SEE the action that we paid that Keysi fight coordinator to choreograph!”
    ??
    If I am going to see a comic book Superheo whipping ass from the Ninja moves he leanred in the first act of the film, I want to SEE those moves being ‘executed’. Not a bunch of tight shots of arm blocks and quick cuts showing a flurry of movement.
    Am I alone on this?
    The action sequences that don’t involve the Batsuit are fine. I am still betting that the costume is just too stiff and rigid to perform the moves to show a dynamic fight scene. If that’s the case, they need to spend the money to develop a costume that looks as good as the last one, but can also be utilized for wide action shots.

  71. Tofu says:

    Well, for a few drug-induced moments, Bats WAS a demonic monster. That said, this easily the most common complaint for Begins around, and I imagine the team to adjust accordingly. From the various video complitations around, the suit looks to move just fine. Nolan likely was just going for too much of the ‘From Russia With Love’ style of fighting, brutal and close (but still not as close as Begins).
    Honestly, it is a well-worn topic by now.

  72. jeffmcm says:

    I was perfectly happy with the fight scenes in Bourne Supremacy.

  73. THX5334 says:

    Didn’t realize it was that worn out. Glad to know that it’s a common sentiment.
    And I have to take back the Bourne crack. I agree with Jeff, the fight scenes were great. But what I was thinking of, and which I’m not a fan of the chaotic editing style of the car chase. I know, I’m in the minority on that.

  74. Martin S says:

    I wasn’t talking about superhero-specific roles. Berry and Affleck signed for several big paydays that had more to do about star-positioning than quality. The roles you listed for Ledger were dotted, (and some shot), before the Oscar nomination. This is post-Academy, not post-BBM.
    Slice and dice it how you want, but this was about connections. Nolan and Heath, CAA. And now, very likely, Bale and Heath on set. I don’t fully buy Heath’s “it’s about the work” line. Not when you’ve done A Knight’s Tale.
    Unless Nolan has done a drastic rewrite, the deal would be for two pics because Joker pours the acid on Dent to make him Two-Face for the third film, according to Goyer’s outline. Whether all Joker scenes could be shot during one production is another issue, but Heath would still be paid for two.
    Gyllenhall was a leveraged name to get Bale to sign for Batman…Gyllenhall was mentioned for Two-Face a number of times, but I don’t see that happening now…now Heath as Two-Face I could have been for.

  75. Telemachos says:

    Some young guy was Aragorn for a couple of weeks before Viggo came in.
    That would be Stuart Townsend, of QUEEN OF THE DAMNED and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN fame.

  76. jeffmcm says:

    You mean ‘infamy’.

  77. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    That would’ve been funny if Townsend was Aragorn. That would’ve meant Charlize would have won Best Actress the same year Townsend’s movie won everything else.
    Now, only about 4 people know who he is but everyone knows who she is. My, the comedy of it all. And yes, I love Gyllenhaal but he as Batman would’ve been weird. The only upside would be that the relationship between him and Katie Holmes would’ve been more age appropriate.
    Martin, you obviously don’t like Ledger, or else you would actually remember reading about what he thinks of that time of his career and how he didn’t like making any of those movies (except for Monster’s Ball).
    But, seriously, the fact that you’re comparing Ledger (who lost the oscar) to Affleck, or Berry or Theron is silly. I don’t get the Affleck one though, considering Daredevil was, what? 5 years after his win for Best Original Screenplay. Ledger’s role is supporting, and in an established quality franchise. This ain’t Catwoman.

  78. Martin S says:

    It’s not about Ledger, it’s about the business of the deal and how Nolan, IMO, sold out and is now on his path to making the same errs Burton and Singer did. If I had to guess, Heath was probably offered Two-Face, turned it down, but “had interest” in working with Bale and Nolan. WB or CAA then suggested Heath for Joker and Nolan went for it. Because no matter how much you like the guy, he is the complete opposite of everything Nolan claimed he was going to do. “Inspired casting” is cover-talk when it comes to franchises.
    And again – it’s not directly about superhero films. It’s about cashing in on the Academy nod. What was Armageddon for Affleck? Berry got big money for Gothika, which with Catwoman were her first big signs after the nomination. Heath the artiste could have gotten any film he wanted produced right now, but he chose Batman 2? C’mon. That’s an agent’s career move for a myriad of reasons.

  79. jeffmcm says:

    Ben Affleck signed for and acted in Armageddon before Good Will Hunting was released.

  80. Cadavra says:

    There’s nothing wrong with going for a huge payday after a major award; it’s often an actor’s only chance to cash in big-time. The problem is that most of the examples cited above turned out to be terrible pictures.
    Ledger wouldn’t have been my first choice as The Joker, but then, I would’ve never believed him capable of the performance he gave in BROKEBACK, so I’m ready to be amazed once more.

  81. Martin S says:

    Exuse me, Pearl Harbor.
    I’m not pinning anything on Ledger. What he did was quite logical. I find the press release total BS and until Nolan gives a worthy explanation, I can’t see it as anything else but a CAA move.
    I read a thread that said Holmes is supposed to be back, but in a minor part. Does anyone really think Cruise would allow that?

  82. THX5334 says:

    Nope, I don’t think Cruise is gonna go for it.
    Martin, that is a dope analysis of the deal.
    What was Nolan’s original vision/intention that makes you feel Ledger as the Joker is going against it (I am on the fence. I don’t think he’ll suck, but…?)
    So, who should be the Joker opposite Bale?
    If I thought the technology could pull it, I’d have some no name actor that fit the part and could act physically, and then I’d dub in Mark Hammil.
    Nobody has ever done a better Joker than Hammil in the animated series.

  83. James Leer says:

    It was always going to be a star part. Nolan was not going to cast Paul Bettany or Crispin Glover or Mark Hamill in this role.
    We should be happy, because Ledger is one of the few stars that is actually a terrific actor and has a maniacal enough grin to play the Joker well. In what way is casting him selling out for Nolan? This is not exactly on par with casting Katie Holmes.

  84. David Poland says:

    Heath Ledger is a great, great young actor.
    He is no more a box office movie star than Paul Bettany.
    Lord of Dogtown, The Brothers Grimm, and Casanova combined grossed $61 million domestic.
    Like Bale, he is not a movie star hire. He is a strong young actor who can deliver whatever Nolan has in mind. And he will not deliver a single dollar at the box office that wasn’t already coming in for a Batman movie.
    I don’t know what makes anyone think this is going to be a huge payday for Ledger either. If he’s getting $5 million, I’d be shocked. He’s certainly not getting gross backend.It may be his biggest payday, but it ain’t Catwoman.

  85. Martin S says:

    Ledger’s Joker salary is going to be relative to whatever he’s made before. It may not be the same dollar amount as Berry and others have made, but the percentage hike will be comparable.
    The reason I believe he’s going to make over 10M is because this is the role that set the bar for all deals that came after it. I can’t see a CAA rep getting lowballed for a client to play The Joker of all parts.
    There’s no degrees of separation between the main players involved and that’s why I don’t buy what’s being said. When a guy like Adrian Brody says to USA Today he loved to play the part, and then they don’t even talk to him because he was “too well-known”, but they go with Ledger?
    Bale had zero heat behind him when he got the Batman role. In fact, he was on a downslide from American Psycho. Equilibrium and Reign of Fire weren’t exactly firestarters. But here comes Academy Flavor Of The Month, and he’s the right choice for Joker. Surprise,surprise,surprise. I mean, WB was hot for Depp. Are you going to tell me that’s because of his talent and not the heat he brings?
    If I had to go with a name player, Brody or Phoenix. Phoenix has got a lunatic role in him just waiting to get out. If it was carte blanche, I would have gone with either Will Arnett, (Gob from Arrested Development), or Walton Goggins, (Shane from The Shield). I also would have looked to non-American theater.

  86. James Leer says:

    Adrien Brody is unavailable for Batman — he’s doing Wes Anderson’s next film in early ’07. Where did you get the quote that he was “too well-known” to be approached?

  87. THX5334 says:

    Adrian Brody after that horrible Diet Coke commercial campaign after his Oscar win, where he dances around to that silly Diet Coke song?
    Um, yeah. After that, he is forever too fey to play someone like as maniacal as the Joker.
    Phoenix, would be good, but I like Ledger better.
    Will Arnett is a great idea.
    Vincent Cassel, is perfect in that pic, but after seeing Ocean’s 12 for the umpteenth time on cable, I’m afraid his accent would get in the way.
    If we’re talking Carte Blanche, I’d want to see what Depp or Ed Norton could do with the role.

  88. adam says:

    As a guy who’s favorite cartoon growing up was “Batman: The Animated Series” (and that’s saying something), I’d honestly been waiting for a realistic and serious Batman movie for years. While Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns” were decent, I think we can all agree that “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin” (remember the ice-hockey battle?) were complete jokes! However, last summer my wish came true – I absolutely loved “Batman Begins” – actually, I just watched it last night.
    Actually, the only way I could have improved “Batman Begins” were by casting a hotter actress than the cute – but not beautiful – Katie Holmes, and by making the ears on the Bat-suit taller. While I loved the rest of the new suit (especially how Bruce realistically built it himself using military parts from his company and the gauntlets he got from Raz), the stubby ears looked weak. I mean, if you’re going to put “ears” on a mask, you’d better go all-out! Seriously guys, am I the only one who thinks those stubby ears on the mask look bad? Check out Batman’s mask in the Burton films and let me know if you think the new ears look better. I hope that Batman gets a revised suit for “The Dark Knight.”
    Also, I’m still not sure if I like the new Batmobile being a military vehicle (I was hoping for a kick-ass, black Lamborghini-type supercar, such as the new Batman cartoon has), but I guess “The Tumbler” goes with the new realistic vibe. Maybe Batman will get a new Batmobile in the next film.
    Speaking of the new film, “Batman: The Dark Knight,” I can’t wait until 2008. While Heath Ledger is definitely an interesting choice for The Joker (I really can’t imagine him with make-up on, playing a psycho), he is one of my favorite actors, so I’m sure he’ll do brilliantly and add a lot of depth to the character. After “Batman Begins” I completely trust Kevin Nolan – he is truly a guy after my own heart!

  89. Cadavra says:

    The ears don’t matter as long as they get the calves right.

  90. jeffmcm says:

    I think when you say ‘Kevin Nolan’, you mean Kevin Nealon, Mr. Subliminal himself.

  91. adam says:

    Haha, yeah, I meant Christopher Nolan!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin