Christian Bale is the next Batman

[Christian Bale]From 1989 to 1996 it seemed like the Batman film franchise was unstoppable. Three films that all made huge amounts of money at the box office. Then came 1997's "Batman & Robin" and the franchise came to a screeching halt.

Since then comic and movie fans have wondered when we'd see another Batman film hit the silver screen. For years there's been talk of a variety of different Batman films with directors such as Christopher Nolan ("Memento"), Darren Aronofsky ("Pi," "Requien For A Dream") Boaz Yakin ("Remember The Titans") and even Wolfgang Petersen ("The Perfect Storm") all attached as possibilities at one point or another. Through all this there were many rumors about possible candidates to play the part of Batman, but nothing concrete. Behind the scenes at Warner Bros. the studio worked quietly to revive the franchise.

In a surprise announcement made today by Jeff Robinov, President of production for Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio revealed that actor Christian Bale will be the next to wear the cowl of the Dark Knight. The next film will be directed by Nolan and is written by Nolan with David Goyer ("Blade"). The story will follow the early career of Batman. Bale was cast in the role after Warners had something akin to a cattle call for actors, interviewing numerous candidates for the role in recent weeks. Principal photography on the film is expected to begin in early 2004.

"What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne. He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for," Directory Nolan said in a release.

Robinov continued in the release, "Now that we've found the best person to play Batman, we are really looking forward to moving ahead with the rest of our casting, and are excited about the exceptional group we are assembling."

The British-born Bale has appeared in such films as "Empire of the Sun," "Little Women," "The Portrait of a Lady, "Metroland," "American Psycho" and "Laurel Canyon." Bale joins actors Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney in playing the role of Batman on the big screen. This next film will be the fifth in the franchise.

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