From the New York Daily News:
Holy sequel, Batman, that guy with the green hair and funny makeup is back.Jacob E. Osterhout
And stepping into the role of the Joker - made famous by Jack Nicholson in the first Batman film - will be Heath Ledger, it was announced yesterday.
Titled "The Dark Knight," the new movie will feature the Caped Crusader (rumored once again to be played by Christian Bale, though casting for that role has not been confirmed) battling the giggling Joker and his partner, crime boss Salvatore Maroni. Production is scheduled to begin in early next year.
He just had to put that 60's Batman TV show reference in there...
The Warner Brothers Press Release:
As a follow up to last year's blockbuster Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan is set to direct Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dark Knight, written by Jonathan Nolan, based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. The film will be produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan. Additionally, Christian Bale will resume his role as Bruce Wayne and Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger has been cast as The Joker. The announcements were made today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures.
Christopher Nolan revamped the Batman franchise in 2005 with the immensely successful Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale in the title role, which chronicled the early years of the superhero. Nolan first garnered attention from critics and fans in 2000 with the groundbreaking drama Memento, which he wrote and directed. He went on to direct the thriller Insomnia, starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, and recently wrapped production on The Prestige, with Hugh Jackman and Bale.
Bale was most recently seen in the ensemble cast of Terrence Malick's The New World. His other credits include Little Women, Portrait of a Lady, Metroland, American Psycho, Laurel Canyon and Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, which was his first starring role.
Ledger most recently earned Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award nominations and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in the award-winning drama Brokeback Mountain. His other credits include Casanova, Monster's Ball, Lords of Dogtown, The Brothers Grimm and The Patriot.
"Chris' unique vision is what made Batman Begins such an outstanding film and we could not imagine anyone else at the helm of The Dark Knight", said Robinov. "We also can't wait to see two such formidable actors as Christian and Heath face off with each other as Batman and The Joker".
"I'm excited to continue the story we started with Batman Begins", added Nolan. "Our challenge in casting The Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented but fearless. Watching Heath Ledger's interpretation of this iconic character taking on Christian Bale's Batman is going to be incredible".
Production is set to begin on The Dark Knight in early 2007.