Batman director takes Hollywood by storm

Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:12am EDT
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - English filmmaker Christopher Nolan is now the toast of Hollywood, thanks to the record-breaking $155 million opening of "The Dark Knight."

But less than 10 years ago, the Batman director was barely a blip at the box office: His feature debut, a small indie called "Following," earned a grand total of $40,000.

The fractured thriller, about a writer who inexplicably follows strangers, was not the kind of film that gets a director commercial gigs. Like Nolan's 2000 follow-up "Memento," it showed an experiment-minded director intent on playing with timelines and disorienting the viewer.

But since then he's managed not only to land on the studio map but redefine it.

Nolan (together with his brother and frequent writing partner Jonathan) graduated to midrange studio projects like the Alaskan murder mystery "Insomnia," which earned nearly $70 million, and Disney's "The Prestige," which landed $53 million.

Then he resurrected the "Batman" franchise with 2005's "Batman Begins," which earned $205 million. "The Dark Knight" will pass that total by the middle of the week.

What's perhaps most remarkable in the arc of the one-time English lit student is that he has managed to migrate to tentpoles without compromising much of the vision of his early movies.

In fact, judging by the word-of-mouth, "The Dark Knight" succeeded because of, not despite, his authorship. "He's not a product of Hollywood, and I think that makes him a better studio director," says Andrew Kosove of Alcon Entertainment, who produced Nolan's "Insomnia."   Continued...

<p>Christopher Nolan, director of the movie "The Dark Knight", poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, California June 29, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>