As explained in previous questions, the fact that the football players of the Gotham Rogues in The Dark Knight Rises were largely played by actual football players from the Pittsburgh Steelers was nicely facilitated by one of the executive producers, Thomas Tull of Legendary Pictures to be precise, being a co-owner of the Steelers, as explained by Jordan Goldberg on the BluRay of the movie:

Our executive producer Thomas Tull is one of the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So he was able to enlist a group of players to come and do cameos...

Now one could say this might have influenced the decision to pick the Steelers in particular. But then again, large parts of the movie (among them the football game) were already filmed in Pittsburgh anyway, so it already seems a natural choice to pick the Steelers (and played well into the many Pittsburghian extras' excitement during filming the game). But then there could on the other hand also be the possibility that Thomas Tull was chosen as an executive producer for exactly those connections, since, in contrast to their title, Executive Producers often don't do much else than "just" provide money and/or "be there". But this possiblity fails by the fact that Legendary Pictures, as founded by Tull back in 2000, has since produced all movies in the Dark Knight trilogy, so they weren't taken into the boat just for their football connections.

As we can see, there are already quite some ties from the movie to Pittsburgh on the one hand and Legendary Pictures on the other hand. So Thomas Tull's connections to the Pittsburgh Steelers seem like an incredibly lucky coincidence. Which brings up the question if it really was a perfect coincidence or if it might have influenced any other decisions in the movie's production apart from chosing the Pittsburgh Steelers to play the Gotham Rogues.1

I won't go as far as postulating that it had any influence on Nolan's decision to include the football game at all, as that would seem too minor a factor to influence such a major story element (that also supported themes above the mere cinematic spectacle), but then again, Nolan is also a screenwriter who has the luxury to consider directorial aspects during creating the story. But maybe it already had some influence on the decision to set parts of the movie in Pittsburgh in the first place. So is there any secured information how this interesting coincidence is to untangle and to which degree Legendary Pictures' connections to the Steelers really influenced which parts of the film-making (apart from just picking the Steelers as Rogues, of course)? Or was this really just a big lucky coincidence and they would have had to pick other players (or "just" actors) to play the football players inside Heinz Field in Pittsburgh without Tull's connections?

1) Afterall, as explained in this comment the Legenedary/Steelers cooperation has been fruitful in other parts already:

As a side note, the Legendary partnership plays out publicly even today. The intro hype video (which I greatly enjoy) at Heinz Field is branded as Legendary, and you'll see Steelers players and coaches wearing Legendary shirts.

1 Answer 1


There are actually incentives for filming in the city of Pittsburgh that have nothing to do with being a sports fan.

Dawn Keezer, Pittsburgh Film Office Director states that Hollywood is enticed into filming in the city because of the $75 million tax incentive program that was introduced in 2004.

However, she is quick to point out that a tax incentive was not the reason that The Dark Knight was filmed in part in Pittsburgh:

The decision [to film in Pittsburgh] wasn’t related to the tax incentive program at all; they chose Pittsburgh because of our history, because of our reputation, because of the fact that we have four crews that work in this industry on a full-time basis. Most cities our size are usually lucky to have one or two crews; we can now do four full features with all local hires.

Thomas Tull became part owner (invester as he prefers to be called) of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. As a lifelong Steelers fan and Executive Producer, Tull is in the position to modify scripts as he pleases to not only pay homage to the city, but also to the Steelers. An example from a 2009 interview in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

We're developing a script right now," Tull, 39, said from his offices at Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles. "I can't get too much into detail, but I will say, with our writer, the setup was in Ohio; the family that's at the center of our story were Browns fans and had a parrot."

Words were scripted for the parrot; he was to talk about the Browns.

"We changed that, for sure," Tull said, almost laughing. "The parrot talked about the Steelers and it was set outside Pittsburgh."

As to Tull's influence on filming in Pittsburgh for The Dark Knight Rises, it is apparent that he had a substantial influence on that decision:

Thomas Tull, the film's executive producer who joined the Steelers ownership group two years ago. Tull helped influence the shooting of the movie in Pittsburgh and he's been trying to get the Steelers involved.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the largest and loyal fan bases in all of professional sports. The fan base is deemed "Steeler Nation"

In November 2007, a study by Turnkey Sports found that the Steelers brand was the strongest in its local market of any team in the NHL, NBA, MLB or NFL.

The Steelers don't need a mascot. Their fans are their mascot..... You don't need a mascot when you have fans like that.

Thomas Tull had the connections to film in Pittsburgh and to express his loyalty to the Steelers. However, if a movie producer without connections had requested, the city of Pittsburgh, the Steeler organization and "Steeler Nation" would have been a part of this project regardless.

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