The Dark Knight to Go IMAX

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All directors promise that their sequels will be bigger and flashier than the predecessors'. But Christopher Nolan doesn't mess around.

IMAX Filming

The director's sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, will become the first feature film to be partly shot in the IMAX format, an expensive and cumbersome process that typically is the province of documentaries and short films.

Nolan will shoot four action sequences â€" including the introduction of the Joker, played by Heath Ledger â€" on IMAX.

The move is one of Hollywood's most pronounced steps yet in its embrace of IMAX theaters, which are increasingly showing commercial fare on their giant screens.

"There's simply nothing like seeing a movie that way," Nolan says. "It's more immersive for the audience. I wish I could shoot the entire thing this way."

Typically, the feature films that play in IMAX theaters are simply stretched out to fill the enormous screens. That can dilute the picture quality and give the movie a wide, squat look.

Shooting on IMAX, Nolan says, will have a twofold effect. The four scenes will fill the IMAX screens, some of which are eight stories high. And in traditional theaters, the scenes will appear more vivid (think high-definition television over standard).

Don't expect many movies to follow suit. Only 280 IMAX theaters are in operation worldwide, and fewer than 100 show feature films.

And shooting in the format is difficult. IMAX film, which is 10 times the size of standard film stock, is costly and must be shot using bulky cameras.

And "they're loud," Nolan says. "We had to figure a way to eliminate the sound so we could shoot dialogue."

In a rarity for Hollywood, the payoff isn't primarily financial, so far. "It doesn't have a huge effect yet on the money you bring in," says Chris Aronson, a distribution chief with 20th Century Fox, which carried Night at the Museum on IMAX. "But it does help make your movie more of an event."

For Nolan, IMAX makes the moviegoing experience unique again.

"You can't do this on any home theater," Nolan says. "Batman has some of the most extraordinary characters in pop culture. We wanted the Joker to have the grandest entrance possible.

"I figured if you could take an IMAX camera to Mount Everest or outer space, you could use it in a feature movie."


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The Dark Knight Quotes

I had a vision, of a world without Batman. The mob ground out a little profit and the police tried to shut them down, one block at a time. And it was so... boring. I've had a change of heart. I don't want Mr.Reese spoiling everything, but why should I have all the fun? Let's give someone else a chance. If Coleman Reese isn't dead in sixty minutes then I blow up a hospital.

The Joker

Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now...and so we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector...a dark knight.

Lt. James Gordon