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HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - The filming of the latest Batman film "The Dark Knight" in Hong Kong whipped up a fan frenzy on Friday, though its director said the caped crusader wasn't avoiding a harbor dip because of its pollution.
There was pandemonium in downtown Hong Kong as the filming of Batman's first cinematic excursion outside of Gotham City cranked up. Thousands of fans screamed and thronged actor Christian Bale who plays Batman -- during filming at a downtown location.
"Hong Kong people are so excited because they have never seen Batman, I mean the real Batman," gushed resident Phoebe Ho.
Police blocked off roads and kept the camera-wielding crowds at bay -- as they jostled for a shot of the stars including Morgan Freeman, as they filmed a scene on a city escalator, meandering up a hill packed with gritty alleys and high-rise blocks, not dissimilar to Batman's own Gotham City.
"I look forward to climbing to the top of your highest buildings and jumping off of them as Batman," said Christian Bale at a packed press conference.
Helicopters and a large Hercules C-130 transport plane have been making low passes over Victoria harbor in recent days -- scenes partly inspired by the film-maker's zeal for the city.
"I think it would be a really interesting thing to take this iconic American character and put him somewhere else in the world and in looking for an appropriate location for that I immediately thought of Hong Kong because I think Hong Kong is such an incredibly cosmopolitan place," said director Christopher Nolan.
But the filming has not been without controversy. Some Hong Kong residents and green groups decried requests to keep buildings lit at night during filming to showcase the city's glittering skyline.
There were also reports of a scene being cut out, which would have involved Batman jumping into Victoria harbor given water pollution concerns. The film's director however denied on Friday that this had been the case.
"That was my decision and it had nothing to do with pollution ... It was simply a script decision," said Nolan.
"As far as any pollution questions go, I've absolutely no problem in dumping movie stars in the most polluted water," he joked.
In the film, set to be released next summer, Batman sets out to dismantle criminal organizations plaguing the city's streets.
Reporting by Tara Joseph and James Pomfret, editing by Rosalind Russell