LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The bat signal will appear next week, eight stories high -- on Imax screens.
The first six minutes of Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight," a prologue that introduces Heath Ledger as the Joker, will appear as a preview in Imax theaters before the studio's "I Am Legend," which opens December 14.
"Dark Knight," the next film in the successful Batman franchise, was filmed in part using Imax cameras, a Hollywood first and a creative decision made by director Christopher Nolan, who also shot 2005's "Batman Begins."
The prologue is one of the scenes photographed in the 70mm Imax format. The rest of the film was filmed in 35mm and will be remastered to the Imax format for release in Imax theaters. In those theaters, the 70mm sequences will fill the screen and the 35mm scenes will appear letterboxed. (In traditional theaters, the aspect ratio will remain the same, though some expect that audiences might see a shift in image quality.)
In the six-minute sequence, a team of robbers -- all wearing clown masks -- enters a bank for a planned heist, but things take an unexpected turn. The imagery demonstrates the depth and clarity offered by the format, but perhaps no image is more chilling than the first look at Ledger's Joker.
Nolan described the moment the close-up comes to the screen.
"Seeing this extraordinary face, eight stories high ... you can smell his breath," he said. "He's a very overwhelming personality, and there's incredible texture to his appearance. It's a creepy moment, as it should be."
Commenting on action shots, he said: "When you are racing and jumping ... those are the points when you realize how overpowering the imagery can be. That really takes me back to being a kid and watching films that seemed much larger than life."
"Dark Knight," with Christian Bale back as the Caper Crusader, was filmed in Chicago and the U.K. Its is slated to open July 18 in North America.