Manhattan played host to the world premiere of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" today on a hot day in the city (which also served as one of the key locations of the shoot). The Associated Press offered a live stream of the red (make that black) carpet arrivals, which, in addition to principals from the cast and crew of the film, included other such celebrities as Ron Howard and Dennis Haysbert.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished with the three movies," star Christian Bale said. "I'm very honored to have played this character and to have recreated it in our own fashion. And I'm very fascinated to see what consequent Batman incarnations will look like."

In many ways, Bale said he was amazed to be there for the premiere of a third and final film. Everyone involved with the production always said they should just assume one movie at a time and "not be arrogant enough" to assume they would have the opportunity to make sequels.

Much of the talk swirled around the bittersweet nature of dropping the curtain on the trilogy, as it is that rare thing: a definitive end to a franchise and all involved. Gary Oldman was one of the actors to appear in each installment and he recalled his final day of shooting.

"The last scene [I filmed] was on a rooftop here in New York," he said. "It was Joseph Gordon-Levitt's first scene in the movie and my last scene of the trilogy. You can't quite believe it, really, that it's over. But it's got to come to an end. And talk about going out with a bang."

Also very much on the lips of the cast and crew was the "family" Christopher Nolan has built, and not only through the Batman films. Tom Hardy, who stars as the villain Bane in the new film, noted that there was an "'Inception' family" (including newcomers to the franchise such as Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard) and a "Batman family" on the set.

"Chris creates a very intimate environment," he said, Oldman sneaking behind him to tickle the actor as he spoke. "You never feel overwhelmed by the size of the movie because you feel so incredibly safe."

Said Gordon-Levitt, "It was an honor to be in 'Inception' and even more so when he asked me back. They [Nolan and wife/producer Emma Thomas] have become my friends." He also took a choice moment to promote Hardy's work in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Bronson."

Anne Hathaway is one of the cast members working with Nolan for the first time on the film, and in her view, it was a dream come true. Indeed, in interview after interview, she has beamed over being able to work on a series of films she already loved from a distance.

"Chris is a dream director and this is a dream part in a franchise that blew my mind as an audience member," she said. "So to actually be invited into it, I wasn't expecting that. I'm very humbled."

She also fielded, naturally, a question about her incarnation of Catwoman (who isn't referred to as such in the film) versus previous portrayals of the character.

"I believe that each Selina [Kyle] is representative of the Gotham City that she lives in," she said thoughtfully.

Co-writer Jonathan Nolan recalled when his was younger and his brother gave him a copy of Frank Miller's "Year One" story arc. As a result, he said, "I was really only into one comic book superhero when I was a kid. So it's been a privilege to spend nine years playing around in Gotham City with my brother."

And indeed, Christopher Nolan also noted that "privilege," and responding to a question regarding saying goodbye to the characters, said, "There isn't really one last scene that you do with everybody involved, and so you're gradually wrapping it up. So I'm saying goodbye to Michael Caine and the Batcave for the last time, and then I'm saying goodbye to Christian and the Bat suit for the last time. So it's spread out over a few weeks toward the end of a seven-month shoot. But there was a lump in the throat every now and again."

"The Dark Knight Rises" opens everywhere Friday.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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