Batman 'Rises' in Newark
Two-day filming starts in city for 'The Dark Knight Rises'
It's not every day you see celebrities Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard wandering around Newark City Hall.
But that's because it wasn't business as usual Thursday: The city's epicenter was turned into what appeared to be a mock infirmary and ghetto, with cots lining the hallways and people dressed as vagrants, starting fires and wielding machine guns.
The scene was like something out of a movie — a Batman movie.
"The Dark Knight Rises," the third installment of the Caped Crusader franchise, started filming Thursday in downtown Newark for the first of its two-day shoot.
Warner Bros. has been mum about the action flick since Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted in May that he met with the film's producer.
Officials with the entertainment giant did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.
On Thursday, film crews and white movie trucks dotted Broad, Greene and Franklin streets outside city hall.
Inside the building, though, was the action.
The ceiling lights in city hall were off, while bright — almost blinding lights — illuminated sections of the hallways.
On the basement floor, the entrance to city hall, there were little signs of a movie filming, except for camera wires and security personnel.
On the first floor, in the rotunda, wooden chairs were set up in rows, facing west, towards the front of the building. Very few people were seen in that area.
On the second floor, crews had set up a makeshift first-aid area, surrounded by cots.
On the third floor, Freeman and Cotillard were seen filming a scene. Freeman, who plays Lucius Fox, was sitting on a chair in the hallway, while Cotillard, who plays Miranda Tate, was two feet away, leaning against a rail, overlooking the second floor. Freeman wore a black suit with a purple shirt. Cotillard was in a blue shirt with black pants.
There was no sign of Christian Bale, who plays Batman.
Dozens of extras were seen on every floor, wearing ragged sweaters, trench coats and vests. Some carried fake weapons.
Film crews also were seen on every floor, prepping extras or waiting for a shoot. The workers wore nametags that read "Magnus Rex," the code name given to "The Dark Knight Rises" by movie executives.
During the filming, residents were not forbidden from city hall, but they were cautioned about inconveniences.
A letter given to people who entered the building warned of "contained fires" and loud noises, including simulated explosions and gun shots.
Amanda Soll, a Warner Bros. spokeswoman on site, declined to say what scene was being filmed inside city hall.
Soll gave reporters a press release that outlined the movie and named the actors, but gave no specifics about filming Thursday or Friday in Newark.
Last week, a federal official who apparently met with Warner Bros. representatives, sent an email memo to his employees outlining details about the movie filming at 1100 Raymond Boulevard — a building that houses federal agencies.
The email, obtained by Patch, states there will be 100 actors dressed as police officers for a shoot, which will take place at the northwest corner of the building from approximately 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. In addition to the actors, there will be mock SWAT and emergency vehicles, according to the email.
City officials have anticipated Friday's shoots wreaking havoc on traffic in Newark and sent a release to reporters last week that requested residents and visitors avoid downtown.
Scenes for "The Dark Knight Rises" already have been shot in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Jodhpur, India. The film is being directed by Christopher Nolan and is scheduled to open in theaters next summer.
— Lia Eustachewich contributed to this report.