Filming starts today for finale in Batman trilogy



Everyone knows you're ready for some football, but what about some Batman?

The Dark Knight predicts a hot time in Pittsburgh for the next couple of weeks. Literally, at least in his case.

A seemingly bemused, casually dressed Christian Bale joked Thursday that when "The Dark Knight Rises" blankets some Downtown streets with faux snow, he won't get any relief.

"Well, I hope that all of you guys are going to feel cooler 'cause of the fake snow, I certainly won't be -- stuck in that rubber suit all the time," the actor told a news conference at the Renaissance Hotel, Downtown.

The third and final picture in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy brought a relaxed, bearded Mr. Bale -- clad in black cargo pants, with folded sunglasses tucked into his T-shirt and hooded jacket -- in front of the media a day before filming starts in Pittsburgh.

"I've never been to Pittsburgh before," he told a packed room. "There will be fighting on the streets a great deal," he predicted, although not a whit of detail about the story was leaked.

"Thank you so much for your generosity of spirit and hospitality ahead of time, and we'll try and stay out of your hair as much as possible and hopefully leave with good memories for everybody."

Mr. Bale was seated in front of the striking teaser poster for the movie set to arrive in theaters July 20, 2012. As boulders tumble from skyscrapers seen from below, a burst of light at the top is in the shape of a bat.

Pittsburgh has hosted 103 theatrical and TV movies since the Pittsburgh Film Office opened in 1990, but nothing has generated this level of excitement. The first two Batman movies were global blockbusters, Mr. Nolan is recognized as one of the most intelligent, imaginative filmmakers in the business, and Mr. Bale is fresh off his Oscar win for "The Fighter."

Mr. Nolan, director, co-writer and producer, confirmed filming starts today and apologized in advance for inconveniences caused by road and building closures in places such as Lawrenceville, Oakland and Downtown. To minimize disruptions, the movie will shoot Wednesdays through Sundays.

"When you're making a large-scale action film that has to showcase, really, the vitality and the size of a major American city -- but also involves a certain amount of disruption to that city in order to make the action appear credible that we want to put on screen," you need the welcome and cooperation found here, he said.

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city that boasts impressive architecture but yet hasn't lost its "human scale," he said. "Those are two elements that are extremely hard to find and incredibly valuable to a production like 'The Dark Knight Rises,' where we're really looking to have the architecture of a major American city somewhat disrupted by some of the things we're going to do."

Mr. Nolan, dressed in an open-collared blue shirt and navy blazer with tan slacks, scouted here several times and arrived for this leg of the shoot a couple of days ago and praised the city's "vibrancy" and "positive feeling."

Predicting "some really impressive, exciting things," the director added, "We've had very good relationships with cities we've filmed at in the past, particularly Chicago on the other Batman films. I'm very confident that Pittsburgh, that we can leave you all liking us, I think the same way we left the people of Chicago liking us. Certainly that's what we're aiming to do."

Like one of his magicians in "The Prestige," he's going to make it snow Downtown in August. "You might feel a tiny bit cooler even if it doesn't actually get any colder, but thank you in advance for all of your cooperation."

Mr. Bale and Mr. Nolan were part of a welcome-to-Pittsburgh news conference that also included producer Emma Thomas; executive producer Kevin De La Noy; Dawn Keezer, film office director; Gov. Tom Corbett; county Executive Dan Onorato; and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The film started photography three months ago in India. "In terms of our road trip, this is our third continent and Pittsburgh is the opening city," Mr. De La Noy said.

"We've been looking forward to this, dealing with the heat of India and the rain of the UK and now we're dealing with the heat of Pittsburgh and the snow we're putting in, so it's a good movie for climate."

His team has been here for months and he singled out some organizations or departments for thanks, starting with Ms. Keezer and her office, Carnegie Mellon University and Heinz Field, which will double as locations, along with the Port Authority, Pittsburgh police and the public works department.

The mayor, county executive and governor all officially welcomed the production, tied film work to an influx of jobs and money and endorsed the commonwealth's film tax credit.

"For every one dollar that's invested in film production, our city sees approximately $118 in direct spending, and I talked to Christian about that direct spending last night," Mr. Ravenstahl said. "He was down in Market Square and was raving about the transformation that took place there."

Although they were nowhere in evidence, actors Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman apparently are among the cast in town for filming that starts today in Lawrenceville and moves to Oakland for the weekend for scenes that promise crowds, gunfire and potentially loud pyrotechnic effects.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her Mad About the Movies blog at www.post-gazette.com/movies . First Published July 29, 2011 4:00 AM


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