'Dark Knight' Creator Nolan: Two Dimensions More Than Good Enough

(AP) ‘Dark Knight’ creator Nolan sticks to 2 dimensions
AP Movie Writer
Batman has all the gadgets Bruce Wayne’s resources can buy, but he doesn’t have one thing nearly every other summer blockbuster has: 3-D.

Director Christopher Nolan made the 2-D vs. 3-D choice easy for fans seeing “The Dark Knight Rises,” the finale of his superhero trilogy that began with 2005’s “Batman Begins” and continued with 2008’s wildly praised “The Dark Knight.”

Nolan is not a fan of digital 3-D, which essentially has turned a fleeting 1950s cinema gimmick into a multi-million-dollar value-added tax on fans who decide they want to put on the glasses and see a film with the illusion of depth.

With “Avatar” and other early hits in the digital 3-D era, studios took in two-thirds or more of their revenue on that third dimension, which costs a few dollars more than 2-D screenings. The 3-D fever has cooled since, with movies now typically earning well under half of their income in 3-D, sometimes as little as a third.

That still means a lot of extra cash on a movie that nets hundreds of millions at the box office, but Nolan never considered following the crowd and going 3-D on Batman.

The choice this week as “The Dark Knight Rises” opens is whether to see it in a regular theater or in a huge-screen IMAX cinema, a format once reserved mainly for documentaries but whose Hollywood possibilities Nolan greatly advanced with a splashy IMAX release on “The Dark Knight.”

Nolan shot nearly half of his Batman finale using bulky IMAX cameras, whose frame is about 10 times the size of a standard movie camera. He also insisted that distributor Warner Bros. release “The Dark Knight Rises” in at least 100 IMAX cinemas that can project it on film rather than in the digital format that has been gradually replacing celluloid.

The expanded use of IMAX makes for a consistent “Dark Knight” trilogy whose scale has grown with each film, while shooting in 3-D on the last one would have been out of step with the first two, the filmmakers say.

Anne Hathaway, who co-stars as Catwoman, said she saw “Avatar” in 2-D and 3-D at a regular cinema and again in 3-D at an IMAX theater. The IMAX experience was the best.

The giant screens, the clarity provided by the larger frame size and the ineffable warmth that purists insist film provides over digital make the IMAX film experience the best way to see the movie, Nolan said. Like 3-D, IMAX costs more _ nearly $20 a ticket for evening shows in some cities.

Fans are getting their money’s worth, though, Nolan said.

Nolan said he’s open to shooting in 3-D one day, but only if it would enhance the story. He considered converting his 2010 blockbuster “Inception” to 3-D, saying the added dimension might have been a nice fit with the film’s dreamscapes. But he dropped the idea because there was not time to do a quality 3-D conversion.

While generally not a 3-D fan, Nolan likes seeing what other filmmakers do with the format, which until now has been used largely on action films and animation. Martin Scorsese earned raves for the 3-D on “Hugo” and says he wants to shoot only in three dimensions from now on.

Nolan recently saw footage of Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D “The Great Gatsby,” coming out in December with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. He figures he’ll see that one in 3-D because it looks like a wild trip where “you’re going to be inside Baz’s head.”