SHH! at the Dark Knight Black Carpet Premiere!

Clearly the biggest to-do in New York City last night was the Black Carpet Premiere for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, taking place at the AMC on 68th and Broadway which houses the city’s only IMAX theater. That block was abuzz with frenzy as journalists and fans from all over the world converged onto the theater to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars before the movie’s premiere. One entire lane of Broadway between 67th and 68th had been closed-off to house a white tent and the aforementioned black carpet, which ran the entire length of the block leading into the theatre entrance. There were also full-scale detailed replicas of Batman’s Tumbler and Batpod vehicles from the movie.

Covering red carpets can be a strange experience and doing so at a black carpet event isn’t much different, except in this case, there were a lot more press types clamoring for time with the stars of what’s looking to be not only the biggest movie of the summer and year, but maybe of all time? Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far, but it certainly seemed like it from the craziness at last night’s premiere.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a video camera or camera crew, it’s a lot harder to get any of the stars of a movie to stop and talk to you, and there’s certainly a hierarchy to how the various press outlets and networks are situated in the press line. Entertainment shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight and E! get coveted positions at the front of the press line where they get access to anyone they want, while print and online outlets—those without video cameras—generally end up somewhere towards the end, which means you have to cross your fingers that the various stars will have time to talk to you as they go down the line.

Superhero Hype! had a decent spot, not all the way at the end, but certainly closer to the entrance of the theater than the start of the press line, which seemed miles away from our vantage point. Sandy Kenyon from ABC was on one side of us with CBS and FOX on the other, all with live feed trucks parked nearby to convey whatever limited interviews they were able to get directly to the studio. Superhero Hype! was sandwiched in between the tabloids “Life & Style” and “OK! Magazine,” both lovely ladies but not exactly looking for the type of weighty information we know that Batman fans would want to read.

Director Christopher Nolan and actors Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman whizzed past everyone with cameras and microphones, as did local celebrity guests like Josh Hartnett and Ethan Hawke, leaving it to the likes of Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nestor Carbonell, and of course, Christian Bale, to handle the majority of the press corps.

Since we weren’t able to get much out of Christian Bale–he’s developed quite a knack for deflecting questions–it was up to Michael Caine, who with the longest resume of anyone else in this movie, took the time to go down the entire line of journalists to talk to every single person. It took nearly 40 minutes for Caine to get to us, and by that time, they decided to lump us together with the tabloid reporters on either side of us.

While we already have a piece with quotes from Nolan and the cast on the late actor Heath Ledger’s performance which you can read here, Caine wasn’t present at the time and last night he told us a great story about working with Heath on the set of The Dark Knight.

“I worked with Heath very early on, and I hadn’t see his performance and we just sat there talking, very ordinary. He wasn’t preparing or saying ‘Please leave me, I’ve got to (prepare)’ Some actors do that,” Caine said. “We was just talking about this or something or other and the assistant director said, ‘Okay, we’re ready’ and then he goes into the elevator and he has to come out of the elevator into a party where Bruce Wayne and I are and take over, and out came this guy, the Joker, and I stood there absolutely stunned. I mean, I didn’t have any dialogue, and it’s a good job, because I would have forgotten it. He went straight past me out of the lift and over to Batman and I just stood there and I was flabbergasted. Right through it, we just sat there and talked and he would do it over and over again, just come out with this energy. I said to him one day, ‘Jesus, I’m too old to do anything as energetic as this. Wait a minute. I couldn’t have done anything as energetic as this when I was your age!’ It’s astonishing.”

“When he was out of character, he was very ordinary, a very quiet man, and very very nice,” Caine continued. “I know you’re supposed to say that when somebody died, but I liked him a lot. I didn’t know him socially. I never had dinner with him. Our conversations were just so ordinary it’s unbelievable, which what amazed me the first time I saw him do a take.” Caine told us that he thought it was a waste of talent for Ledger to have passed so suddenly, but he does think he’ll get an Oscar for the performance regardless.

It was great to see executive producer Michael Uslan show up at the premiere with Joker creator Jerry Robinson and his wife, and we were also glad to have a chance to talk with “Dark Knight” co-plotter David Goyer, a definite friend to Superhero Hype! with all his involvement with comic book movies, having co-written Batman Begins and written all three “Blade” movies. Goyer finished shooting his fourth movie, the supernatural thriller Unborn, in Chicago eight weeks ago and has been editing, preparing to show some sort of preview at Comic-Con International next week. He hasn’t yet shown the movie to Rogue Pictures, but he thinks there’s a possibility it might come out this fall or otherwise, sometime next spring. He told us that he sees it being in the same realm of the supernatural as movies like Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

We talked with Goyer a bit about how Christopher Nolan had taken things further away from the Batman comics with The Dark Knight, losing the Batcave altogether and making Gotham City look more like a normal city.

“That was intentional,” Goyer told us. “That was very much in the story we came up with. We just thought we had taken some liberties in the first film. We burned down Wayne Manor, and we asked DC permission to do that first, but one of the reason we did it is because we thought people wouldn’t expect it. This movie takes place four, five or six months after the first one. Wayne Manor’s obviously not going to be rebuilt by that time, and we thought it would be interesting to make the movie less gothic than some of the ones that have come before and make it more realistic even than ‘Batman Begins’.”

Goyer denied that they had constructed the first two movies to act like a trilogy as some have presumed. “It wasn’t really a trilogy. We left the door open at the end of the first movie obviously for this one, and this one, without giving too much away, could go someplace else, but I think the scary thing about doing a third one—and it’s really up to Chris (Nolan)—is could we top ourselves?”

As far as the Magneto prequel that Goyer has been attached to write and direct for 20th Century Fox, he hopes to start that in the next year or so, but he’ll be finishing up Unborn and working on his take of The Invisible Man first, although because of his love of comics, he expects to always be doing something with the genre.

As far as Goyer’s take on the classic Universal horror character, “It’s sort of like a direct sequel. It takes place in the year 1900 and Scotland Yard catches him and forces him to become a secret agent.” He hopes to direct that one as well, which might take the place of Magneto if it happens sooner.

Even though Goyer is focusing on directing these days, he admitted that there were three directors he’d gladly write for: Chris Nolan, Guillemo del Toro and Alex Proyas (Dark City). He says that he’s friends with all of them still, and he doesn’t rule out doing more work with them in the future. (He told us he’s dying to see Hellboy II: The Golden Army, but hasn’t had a chance yet.)

It was also great to meet man-of-the-hour, producer Charles Roven, who is already coming off one summer hit for Warner Bros. (Get Smart) and is likely to have another this weekend, but he’s also been responsible for some of the studio’s bigger hits, like the successful live action Scooby Doo from 2002.

“I think tonally it’s very similar in many ways to the last movie ‘Batman Begins’,” he said when we asked about the change of direction Nolan took with The Dark Knight. “We tried to make that one in a kind of hyper-real world and we tried to place this one in a hyper-real world. In that one, you have the biggest tragedy in that movie at the beginning of the movie and in this one, there’s some pretty dark things that go on in other spots in the film, let’s just say, but I think tonally, it’s very reflective of the way the characters were in the first and I think it’s a natural extension of the first really.”

We asked him whether they had anything ready if Warner Bros. came to them Monday asking for a third movie in the series. “Honestly, we had nothing on paper. We didn’t even have an idea when ‘Batman Begins’ came out for ‘The Dark Knight’ and we don’t have an idea now,” he admitted to us. “We’re not even thinking about it. When this one comes out and is out there around the world, which we’re expecting to be in the next month or so, then maybe after everyone takes a vacation, we’ll start to think about if there’s a reason to do another one.”

“I’d still love to do ‘The Flash’,” Roven told us when what other DC superheroes he may like to tackle in the interim. “(Warner Bros.) is doing their own internal discussions and when they’re done, we’ll all sit down and figure out what we’re going to do.”

“We’re definitely talking about doing something there,” he told us when asked whether they’re considering a sequel to the surprise hit Get Smart. “We haven’t totally resolved if we’re going to do it, but we’re at least in discussions about whether we can come up with a story that’s good enough to make it worthy of another one. We love (Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway) together, we love the whole cast, and we love Bruce and Lloyd, so that was a lot of fun to make.”

Also, Roven recently hired Lawrence Kasdan to rewrite the script of a proposed big screen version of the popular cartoon Robotech, which is currently being worked on, but he couldn’t talk about the direction they plan to take. They won’t go looking for a director until after they’ve finished that script.

As far as the rumors of another “Scooby Doo” movie being in production? Roven’s enigmatic response was “I can’t speak to you about that” but his next movie will be Thomas (Run Lola Run) Tykwer’s The International with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which is schedule to come out next February. “We were tentatively dated against ‘Tropic Thunder’ and I think that’s going to be a really big movie and a really funny movie so we thought the best thing for it was to come out when movies of our type, which are intelligent thrillers can really establish themselves in the marketplace.”

While talking to Roven, we missed a chance to talk to Aaron Eckhart, and shortly after, Maggie Gyllenhaal was whisked past us as if we had the plague, but probably had more to do with the gossip reporters surrounding us–we actually had a chance to talk with her at ShoWest, so we weren’t too upset.

Still, we apologize that we probably didn’t get nearly as many interesting quotes or moments to share with SHH! readers from the premiere, but what do you except with that kind of zoo?

The Dark Knight should devastate the country’s work productivity when it opens on Friday, July 18. Businesses may as well close down and make it a national holiday.

Source: Edward Douglas