'Dark Knight' takes hold of city

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has gone Bat-crazy.

Shooting began in the Asian city last week for “Batman: The Dark Knight,” marking the first time the story takes place outside Gotham in the film franchise’s history.

Hong Kong residents are completely under the Batman spell. Last week’s noise complaints of low-flying helicopters doing aerial shots and environmental concerns over lights in buildings being kept on overnight for filming were quickly forgotten as hundreds of star-struck citizens surrounded the areas of the shoots and local news gave daily reports on its progress.

Not everyone is enthralled, however. Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To slammed the government over the weekend for its support of the “Batman” production, while little help is offered to local productions.

The government “can offer 100% support for them, but they can’t even offer 1% to us locals,” To said. “It’s discrimination, because we Chinese are not worth as much cash to them.”

A press conference for the film on Friday — with producer Charles Roven; exec producer Kevin de la Noy; director Christopher Nolan; thesps Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman; Hong Kong commissioner for television and entertainment licensing Maisie Cheng; and Jack So, chairman of the Film Development Council — was notable for how little was disclosed about the film. Reporters were also barred from asking any questions about the film. It instead served more as an example for government officials to highlight their support for film production in the territory.

“Over the past year, the government has been supporting and assisting the ‘Batman’ crew in the preparatory work for shooting in Hong Kong,” Cheng said.

Philip Lee, whose production company October Pictures is handling the local shoot, told Daily Variety that the overall schedule for the shoot in Hong Kong is eight days, with the cast taking part in approximately three days of the shoot. Lee also said there is a possibility that part of the shoot will take place at the Macau Airport.

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