Christopher Nolan and the luxuries he’s had
Christopher Nolan is right. His Dark Knight Trilogy had the “privilege and a luxury” of time.
Let me explain. The acclaimed director and probably one of the most talented auteurs of his generation, recently attended the BAFTA: A Life In Pictures event in London. Deadline was there and reported that, when asked about the Dark Knight trilogy, he was given the “privilege and a luxury” of time when developing those movies. Luxury that the directors of today (and especially the ones that are directing DC super-hero movies) simply don’t have.
“That’s a privilege and a luxury that filmmakers aren’t afforded anymore,” Nolan said. “I think it was the last time that anyone was able to say to a studio, ‘I might do another one, but it will be four years’. There’s too much pressure on release schedules to let people do that now but creatively it’s a huge advantage. We had the privilege and advantage to develop as people and as storytellers and then bring the family back together,” he said (via Deadline).
Maybe it’s because of the reputation that he built in Hollywood prior Batman Begins. Or maybe those were different times and there was different expectations of him and his movies. Or maybe it was all of the above, and the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly in an era when we weren’t sooo obsessed with super-hero movies. Or simply he was just at the right time and in the right place.
Well Nolan presented Batman Begins back in 2005. Several years after the Joel Schumacher directed and incredibly disastrous/shameful/terrible Batman & Robin movie. Oh and DC wasn’t exactly thriving with their other characters to be perfectly honest. Steel, Catwoman and Constantine were flops and there was not much hope on the horizon. So DC put all their eggs into Nolan’s basket and he was regarded as the big hope in saving the much beloved character from ridicule and eventual downfall. So, with a 150 million dollars budget, Nolan and Goyer began work on the film in early 2003, aiming for a darker, more realistic tone.
The goal was to have the fans care for both Batman and Wayne at the same time. The film, which was primarily shot in Iceland and Chicago, relied on traditional stunts and miniatures, with minimal computer-generated imagery. It grossed over $48 million in its opening weekend in North America, eventually grossing over $374 million worldwide. The film received positive reviews and is considered by many to be one of the best superhero films of the 2000s. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA awards.
The follow up… The Dark Knight was released in 2008, and The Dark Knight Rises four years later in 2012, which is not something that you see very often nowadays. For instance Zach Snyder released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League came out to theaters just last month. In between we had the Wonder Woman solo movie (directed by Patty Jenkins) and when we look at how the Nolan trilogy releases were conduced, we actually know that his method of work is a thing of the past. A privilege that he had and a luxury that not that many directors will experience in the future. He even managed to make movies outside the franchise in-between. Nolan made The Prestige after Batman Begins and before The Dark Knight… oh and he made Inception after The Dark Knight and 2 years before The Dark Knight Rises. Actually the gap between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises is four years long. Unheard-of practice in present time for DC.
He’s actually right in his statement that there is too much pressure and the expectations are too damn high in the current state of the film industry. The atmosphere has changed and so has the expectations from both the studio and the audience. But that gap was not a vanity move by Nolan, if you recall. He used that time wisely and let he and his team to develop the characters, polish the movies and make them an unforgettable experience that I’m afraid will not be repeated any time soon.
It was truly a luxury, and i just hope that Matt Reeves has it with The Batman.