Making a billion dollars with your superhero picture (shattering a dozen box office records in the process) leaves you with a veined, bulging muscle of clout to swing with the studio, especially when they have very good reason to think you can do it again.
It was announced yesterday that Batman 3 would henceforth be known as The Dark Knight Rises, which is a very unfortunate moniker for a film of such huge pedigree and popularity. It’s trite and falls squarely into that ghetto of vague, melodramatic franchise titles with such company as (just counting films) a shitty Hannibal sequel, as well as the rises of Cobra, the Machines, the Lycans, Leslie Vernon, Taj, and the Silver Surfer. As disappointing as the name is, the real news was that the film would definitely be shot and exhibited in 2D. Huge relief.
Keep in mind, I’m no 3D contrarian. The format is here to stay in a way no previous implementation was able to manage, though it will (and should) be a very very long time before we even tread close to the point where a majority of films being shot that way. We are marching closer to the point though, where shooting in 3D can be a legitimate decision for all filmmakers, made in service of a film’s photography and storytelling potential, much the way aspect ratio, film stock, and lens choice are now. There is a lot of aggressive innovation happening in service of 3D, but fortunately we still have pioneers in the photochemical and two-dimensional high definition photography fields as well. Wally Pfister and his team, under the direction and vision of Christopher Nolan, have managed to push the use of extremely high-grade film processes farther than they’ve been pushed in the Hollywood blockbuster world since the days of Cinerama and other gimmicky exhibitions formats. The Dark Knight and Inception, if nothing else, are remarkable achievements in cinematography and are working on equally epic levels as Cameron and his 3D cameras, just often grounded in the traditional world of silver grains.
Nolan spoke with the LA Times in reaction to the news and explained a little of the thought process behind sticking with their more classically epic approach to bombastic filmmaking.
“We want the look and feel of the film to be faithful to what has come before in the first two films. There was a large canvas and operatic sweep to ‘The Dark Knight’ and we want to make a film that will carry on with that look and feel.”
On the characteristics of 3D that don’t fit with this set of films…
“There’s an intimacy at times and we didn’t want to lose scale…. Our ambition for the third movie is to complete a story that has begun. This is not starting over, this is not rebooting. We’re finishing something, and keeping a consistency with what’s come before has real value. We’re looking to do something technologically that’s never been done before. Our ambitions are to make a great movie.”
There are still innovations for filmmaking yet, outside of a computer.
Nolan’s not a silly man though, and knows full well that 3D has its place, so these same philosophies may not apply to the Superman film he’s producing. While his own films are great projects with which to experiment and push the envelope for film, a rejuvenated Man of Steel, directed by another strongly visual director may be a place where Warner Brothers feels the need to push for that third D. The studio has admirably learned from their mistake of the Titans and not forced unwise conversions on Inception or the latest Harry Potter, and while they may be respectful of Nolan’s wishes on the final film of his Batman trilogy, they surely don’t want to stay out of the 3D superhero game for too long.
I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the capture processes of both of these films, frankly. It’s a great thing when gifted visualizers are backed with the best technicians in the world and the resources to do innovative work.