The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the second installment of Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale and supported by Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman. In the film, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are menaced by an anarchistic mastermind known as the Joker (Ledger), who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and turn the city to chaos.
Nolan's inspiration for the film was the Joker's comic book debut in 1940, the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween, which retold Harvey Dent's origin. The "Dark Knight" nickname was first applied to Batman in Batman #1 (1940), in a story written by Bill Finger. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago, as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The film was the first mainstream feature to partially utilize IMAX 70 mm cameras, with Nolan using them for 28 minutes of the film, including the Joker's first appearance. Warner Bros. initially created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Ledger as the Joker. Ledger died on January 22, 2008, some months after he completed filming and six months before the film's release from a toxic combination of prescription drugs, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public.
Upon its release on July 18, 2008, The Dark Knight achieved significant critical and commercial success. With over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it became the highest-grossing film of 2008 and the fourth-highest-grossing film at the time of its release; it also set the record for highest-grossing domestic opening with $158 million, a record it held for three years. At the 81st Academy Awards, the film received eight nominations; it won the award for Best Sound Editing and Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor. The Dark Knight is considered one of the best films of its decade and one of the best superhero films ever made. The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in the trilogy, was released on July 20, 2012.