There hasn't been much news revolving around Batman 3 as of late, but Batman-On-Film has an article shaking fanboys to their core. It involves Christopher Nolan and whether or not he'll be at the helm of the next installment.
As you can imagine, Warner Bros. would desperately want Nolan to return - but the deal isn't a given. Co-writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan said they would have to convince Chris again; since The Dark Knight was his first sequel ever, asking the director to make it a trilogy is another task entirely--a task that might nearly be impossible.
According to BoF's source, there are a number of issues at play. The death of Heath Ledger "rocked Mr. Nolan hard." Apparently so much so that it convinced Chris "TDK was going to be it for him and Batman on film." The source also revealed the long speculated story point that "The Joker was going to return in Batman 3," and Ledger's untimely death puts the franchise "back to square one." Though BoF is saying Chris is still developing story ideas, it won't be "until AT LEAST 2012 before we see the Caped Crusader back [in theaters]." So the bottom line, with or without Nolan, we've got some time--but is it too long for Warner Bros. to wait?
The studio would likely want to strike while the iron is hot, so waiting 4 years might be pushing it. Three years passed between Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), and Nolan released The Prestige (2006) inside that time. A similar situation has been expected between TDK, Batman 3 and Inception; but the non-Batman film is set to be released in 2010, forcing a shift in the previous timeline. It also took two years to develop, shoot and promote TDK which went on to be the highest grossing film of the genre. With no established universe, like rival publisher Marvel, keeping anticipation high might not be easy, even with the success of the last film.
But the added time might turn out to be a good thing for the next Batman, and WB along with it.
Nolan already has the impossible task of topping the highest grossing film in the comic book genre - that isn't going to change, so letting it slip off the radar wouldn't be such a bad thing. Let fanboys and general audiences, in a sense, forget how good The Dark Knight was; get Nolan and Co. to come back with a good story [calling it The Caped Crusade, :P ], strong characters, and a plot that shakes audiences again.
Since owning a film studio is a money-making business I can see how having a film be delayed is a problem, but here's something to chew on: I'd say opening box office weekend numbers are dependent on teasers and trailers, TDK had ridiculous amounts of marketing/advertising, but long-term gross is in the hands of word-of-mouth. Such is the case with the recent follow-up to Batman Begins - many people didn't realize that TDK was a sequel. Sure, you can rope audiences by attaching a name and director (though it didn't work for Watchmen) but give me a great film and I'll tell all my friends, then I'll watch it at least once with every one of them.
Not only has Nolan given fans the two best Batman films to date, he's arguably the most acclaimed director to do a comic book movie (IMHO). Losing his storytelling to hit a release date is for me, simply out of the question.
As expected Warner Bros. has had a backup plan, a shortlist of directors to takeover the Batman franchise if the inevitable happens. Would you put plan B for the Batman franchise in motion now?