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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 14:56 GMT
Batman 'returns with Memento director'
Christopher Nolan prior to the screening of Insomnia at the Deauville Film Festival
Christopher Nolan, the director behind Memento and Insomnia, is to direct a Batman film, according to US trade journal Variety.

Studio Warners Bros have confirmed the English director has signed a deal for one of three upcoming Warner Bros Batman projects.

Nolan, who also wrote the script for his labyrinthine thriller Memento, said he was "excited" to be involved.

"He [Batman] is the most credible and realistic of the superheroes, and has the most complex human psychology," Nolan told Variety.

"His superhero qualities come from within. He's not a magical character. I had a fantastic experience with the studio on Insomnia, and I'm keen to repeat that experience."

Spin-off movies

The Batman franchise has been on hold after Batman and Robin (1997), the badly-received fourth film that starred George Clooney as the caped crusader and Chris O'Donnell as Robin.

The four Batman films, which started with 1989's Batman, have taken more than $1bn.

Warner Bros has tried to kick-start the character again with a series of spin-off movies, including Batman vs Superman.

That film was nearly given the go-ahead for production, and was to have been directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the director of Das Boot and The Perfect Storm.

But Petersen instead took on the upcoming historical epic Troy, which will star Brad Pitt.

Reclusive tycoon

The other two Batman films planned by Warner apart from that directed by Nolan are Batman: Year One and Catwoman, Variety said.

Batman: Year One is a darker spin-off directed by Pi's Darren Aranofsky, is also rumoured to be starting production soon for a 2005 release.

Catwoman, which would follow the character played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, is also in development, with Ashley Judd a possibility for the title role.

Nolan has not indicated whether he is interested in writing the script for the latest project.

After Insomnia, a remake of a Norwegian thriller starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Nolan wanted to work on a life story of reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes, which was to star Jim Carrey.

But Martin Scorsese has already got a Hughes film in production, The Aviators, which will feature Catch Me If You Can star Leonardo DiCaprio.

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