Christopher Nolan

Pearce among thesps eyed for Dark Knight role

This article was corrected on Jan. 28, 2003.

Warner Bros. has enlisted “Memento” director Chris Nolan to revive its “Batman” franchise.

Nolan, who last helmed the WB drama “Insomnia,” has made a deal to direct a Batfilm, though it is unclear and he would not say whether he would write the script.

“All I can say is that I grew up with Batman, I’ve been fascinated by him and I’m excited to contribute to the lore surrounding the character,” Nolan said. “He is the most credible and realistic of the superheroes, and has the most complex human psychology. His superhero qualities come from within. He’s not a magical character. I had a fantastic experience with the studio on ‘Insomnia,’ and I’m keen to repeat that experience.”

Nolan’s emergence is an unexpected plot twist for the Caped Crusader, since it appeared that the superhero had flagged after four movies that grossed more than $1 billion. The studio, led by production prexy Jeff Robinov, has been trying to exploit the franchise through reinventions and spinoffs. They include “Batman Vs. Superman,” “Batman: Year One” and “Catwoman.”

“Batman Vs. Superman,” nearly went into production with director Wolfgang Petersen and a script by Andrew Kevin Walker (“Seven”) until Petersen instead moved to the Greek epic “Troy,” set to star Brad Pitt and Eric Bana.

“Batman: Year One” is a Gen-X version of the crimefighter that is being developed by Darren Aronofsky and creator Frank Miller.

“Catwoman” is a spinoff of the character introduced in the Tim Burton-directed “Batman Returns.”

It is unclear how the new Nolan project would impact any of the other films. “Catwoman” seems closest to being ready, with Ashley Judd expected to play the title role, and visual effects vet Pitof making his directing debut from a script by John Rogers.

WB’s superhero project closest to the starting line is the J.J. Abrams-scripted “Superman,” with Brett Ratner directing and Jon Peters producing. The film will reintroduce a franchise that sputtered after four Christopher Reeve films, and WB is currently testing actors for its Man of Steel, with Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Ashton Kutcher and Brendan Fraser among those rumored as aspirants to be fitted in cape and spandex.

Nolan would not divulge the contents of his Batproject, but he’ll undoubtedly bring the wildly inventive style that so quickly brought him to the directing A-list after “Insomnia” and “Memento,” whose star Guy Pearce is among the actors who might make an interesting Bruce Wayne.

Nolan recently turned in his script for a film about Howard Hughes that he hopes to direct for Castle Rock, with Jim Carrey in the starring role. Timing of that film is unclear, since the Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio Hughes rival pic “The Aviator” could be in production first, after IEG partnered with Miramax and WB. Nolan, who is repped by UTA, wouldn’t say what his next feature would be.

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