'Dark Knight' starts growing trend in Hollywood

Directors have a new perk to demand of studios when it comes to tentpole pics: sequences shot using Imax cameras.

The six Imax sequences that Christopher Nolan directed and integrated into “The Dark Knight” have encouraged other filmmakers to get studios to pony up the production dollars for similar shots.

Michael Bay will film at least three action setpieces using Imax cameras for “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which is lensing.

Jon Favreau has discussed using Imax cameras in filming “Iron Man 2,” while “Eagle Eye” director D.J. Caruso has expressed interest in doing so for future projects such as “Y: The Last Man.”

Filmmakers have long preferred sequences shot using Imax cameras because the quality of the 70mm images surpasses those of more traditional 35mm footage.

But the large Imax cameras have often proved too unwieldy, or the conversion process to traditional 35mm too costly, to make it worth shooting an entire film in the format. There are also fewer theaters to play the pics.

But lensing several high-profile sequences in the bigger format is proving lucrative at the B.O.

Studios are looking for ways to boost attendance and sell more tickets as auds increasingly opt to watch movies at home.

Warner Bros. successfully used the six sequences in “Dark Knight” as a promotional tool to get auds to check out the pic in Imax theaters, where tickets cost more, thus putting more money in the studio’s coffers.

Studio films have been shown in Imax theaters, but “Dark Knight” was the first to have scenes shot using Imax cameras.

To date, “Dark Knight” has earned a record $60 million from large-format theaters.

“We become a way to get (people) out of the house and into theaters,” said Greg Foster, chairman and prexy of Imax Filmed Entertainment.

As of June 30, there were 302 Imax theaters operating in 40 countries.

Although Imax provides the cameras to productions, it does not further offset the costs of the production of the sequences, the company said.

In 2007, the first “Transformers” hit large-format screens after the pic’s summer theatrical run.

The “Transformers” sequel will roll out wide in megaplexes and in Imax theaters on June 26. Pic will be digitally remastered into the Imax format.

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