Study Guide

The Dark Knight Production Studio

Production Studio

Syncopy and Legendary Pictures (Warner Bros)

There's not a whole lot to tell here, at least as far as the production studio goes. 

Legendary Pictures was set up in 2000 by Thomas Tull. Soon afterwards, he signed a big fat deal with Warner Bros to produce 40 movies over 7 years. Christopher Nolan's Batman films were among them. In fact, Batman Begins was the very first movie out of their gate.

Speaking of Nolan, he's got a production company of his own: Syncopy Pictures, which partnered with Legendary Pictures to produce the Batman movies and most of Nolan's other films (including the likes of The Prestige and Inception, which are both pretty darn good if you haven't seen them).

It's a lot of business details basically: this company partnering with that company to make enough money to get in bed with that other company, and hey what the heck does this have to do with the cool stuff that's in this movie anyway?

Little Guys Working for Some Big Guys

The most interesting part of the equation isn't the two studios that produced the movie, but the one the released it: Warner Bros, one of Hollywood's biggest studios for over 80 years. They started business since 1923 and you'll doubtless be shocked to learn that the founders were a quartet of brothers: Albert, Harry, Sam and Jack Warner. They made their bread and bacon at the advent of the sound era, and in fact they helped launch it with the first sound movie of all time: The Jazz Singer. That put Warners in the big leagues, and they haven't given up the position since.

Like most studios, they made movies in a lot of different genres, but they're best known for two in particular, both of which have a bearing on Batman. The first genre is gangster pictures, which they spent the 1930s tossing out like they were going out of style. Tough gritty stories about mugs what broke the law and the dames who loved them… you know, before they died in a hail of bullets at the end of the picture. Warners was the king of the crime-movie cage, and made huge stars out of guys like James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, who knew their way around tough-guy dialogue. That trend continues today, and actually netted them a Best Picture Oscar a few years back with Martin Scorsese's gangster saga The Departed.

The other genre? You probably know it: cartoons.

Walt Disney had the lock on sweet-natured family animation, but Warner Bros. countered with something different: a little iconoclastic Looney Tunes anarchy. Bugs Bunny was their guy, as were his buddies Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam and Wile E. Coyote. These guys were wilder than Mickey and Donald. Things blew up a lot more in their cartoons and there was always a little stick-it-to-The-Man undercurrent in their flicks.

Batman: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Combine the wild nature of Warners' cartoons to the tough street-guy stuff of the gangster pictures, and you get a superhero who dresses in black and drops mobsters off of roofs. Granted, Warners didn't create Batman, but they knew exactly what to do with characters like him, and once they grabbed him, they've never let go.

In fact, Warners is the proud owner of every Batman movie made since 1989. Why is that, you say? Because Warners owns DC Comics, the company that owns Batman (as well as Superman, Wonder Woman and a whole bunch of other famous folks in tights). They inked the deal in 1989, just before the Tim Burton Batman movie hit theaters. If you look at any DC Comics character, whether it's characters on a TV animated series, direct-to-DVD movies, or big budget flicks like Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, it will always start with Warner Brothers' iconic shield.

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