THE DARKKNIGHT(2008)CASE STUDYBACKGROUND TOTHE FILM’SPRODUCTION
• G322 Key Media Concepts (TVDrama)• Section B: Institutions andAudiences• US film aimed at an international audience• Traditional Hollywood Blockbuster genre• Large Hollywood studio production WITHBUDGET TO MATCH!• Innovative internet marketing similar toCloverfield (2008)
• Famous Director -Christopher Nolan• Previous: Memento(2000) Insomnia(2002) BatmanBegins (2005)Batman Begins opened a new chapter in the Batman film franchise bytaking the legendary character back to his origins, reimagining why andhow the billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne became the enigmatic crimefighter known to the world as Batman. In The Dark Knight Nolan returnsto the saga with the character now “fully formed.”Batman Begins budget - $150 millionWorldwide Gross - $372.7 million
• The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago,as well as in several other locations in the UnitedStates, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong.• Nolan used an IMAX camera to film somesequences, including the Jokers firstappearance in the film.• It has had enormous box office success, settingthe record for the highest-grossing weekendopening in the U.S. with over $158 million andbecoming the 4th highest grossing film of alltime.The Dark Knight budget - $185 millionWorldwide Gross - $1.1 billion
IMPORTANT FACTORS IN THESUCCESS OF THE FILM?• MARKETING campaign• VIRAL marketing• BATMAN – history and contract withaudience• CASTING• DIRECTOR’S PORTFOLIO• DISTRIBUTION – most cinemas to date• Online ticket sales
• Sample exam question:• How do studios reach their audiencenationally and internationally?• Answer - through Marketing andDistribution.
MARKETING1. Traditional forms of Marketing2. Viral marketing and ARG3. Issues for debate
• The Dark Knights opening sequence, (showinga bank raid by the Joker) and closing montageof other scenes from the film, was screened withselected IMAX screenings of I Am Legend,which was released on December 14, 2007.• A theatrical teaser was also released with non-IMAX showings of I Am Legend, and also on theofficial website. The sequence was released onthe Blu-ray Disc edition of Batman Begins onJuly 8, 2008.• Also on July 8, 2008, the studio releasedBatman: Gotham Knight, a direct-to-DVDanimated film, set between Batman Begins andThe Dark Knight and featuring six originalstories.
• On May 15, 2008, Six Flags GreatAmerica and Six Flags Great Adventuretheme parks opened The Dark Knightroller coaster, which cost $7.5 million todevelop and which simulates beingstalked by the Joker.• Mattel produced toys and games for TheDark Knight, action figures, role playcostumes, board games, puzzles, and aspecial-edition UNO card game, whichbegan commercial distribution in June2008
Viral marketing• Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketingtechniques that use pre-existing social networks to produceincreases in brand awareness or to achieve othermarketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, similar to the spread ofcomputer viruses.• It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by thenetwork effects of the Internet.• Viral promotions may take the form of video clips,interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandablesoftware, images, or even text messages.• The goal of marketers interested in creating successfulviral marketing programs is to identify individuals with highSocial Networking Potential (SNP) and create ViralMessages that appeal to this segment of the populationand have a high probability of being passed along.
Viral marketing• The assumption is that if such an advertisement reachesa "susceptible" user, that user will become ‘infected’ (i.e.,sign up for an account) and can then go on to ‘infect’other susceptible users. As long as each ‘infected’ usersends mail to more than one susceptible user onaverage the number of infected users will grow.• It is the job of creatives in the marketing company toproduce engaging material which will entice users tospread the viral.• Viral marketing is used to create the impression ofspontaneous word of mouth enthusiasm.• This is called Astroturfing to create the impression ofbeing spontaneous grassroots behavior, hence thereference to the artificial grass, Astro-Turf.
ASTROTURFING• While Astro-turfing enables marketingcompanies to rapidly reach a potential enormousaudience, the goal of such a campaign is todisguise their efforts. This is arguably designedto combat the turn against organised institutionalcommercialisation by young audiences .Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individualpushing a personal or political agenda or activistorganizations.
WELL KNOWN VIRALCAMPAIGNS• Cadburys Dairy Milk 2007 Gorilla advertisingcampaign was heavily popularised on YouTubeand Facebook
WELL KNOWN VIRALCAMPAIGNS• The 2008 film Cloverfield was first publicized with a teaser trailerthat did not advertise the films title, only its release date:"01·18·08." Elements of the viral marketing campaign includedMySpace pages created for fictional characters and websitescreated for fictional companies alluded to in the film.• http://www.slusho.jp/• http://www.cloverfieldmovie.com/• http://www.tagruato.jp/index2.php• http://www.avirginsplea.com/ claimed that a 25-year oldvirgin living in Toronto named Geoff needed five million hits on hiswebsite in 30 days in order for Jenn, one of his very hot platonicfemale friends, to help him lose his virginity.
Viral marketing for The Dark Knightand the use of an alternate realitygame (ARG)• ARG = an interactive narrative that uses the real worldas a platform, often involving multiple media and gameelements, to tell a story that may be affected byparticipants ideas or actions.• The form is defined by intense player involvement thattakes place in real-time and evolves according toparticipants responses, and characters that are activelycontrolled by the games designers. Players interactdirectly with characters in the game, solve plot-basedchallenges and puzzles, and often work together withininternet social networks to analyze the story andcoordinate real-life and online activities.
• Marketing based ARGs can rapidly spreadpublicity for a film by targeting fans socialnetwork sites as fans collaborate onsolving puzzles or arranging to meet torole-play certain options suggested by thegame’s designers.
• The marketing campaign for the 2008 film TheDark Knight combined both online and real-lifeelements to make it resemble an alternate realitygame. Techniques included mass gatherings ofJoker fans, scavenger hunts around world,detailed and intricate websites that let fansactually participate in "voting" for political officesin Gotham City.• The movie also marketed heavily off of word ofmouth from the thousands of Batman fansperhaps supported by Astroturfing.
• In May 2007, 42 Entertainment began a viralmarketing campaign utilizing the films "Why SoSerious?" tagline with the launch of a websitefeaturing the fictional political campaign ofHarvey Dent, with the caption, "I Believe inHarvey Dent." The site aimed to interest fans byhaving them try to earn what they wanted to seeand, on behalf of Warner Bros., 42Entertainment also established a "vandalized"version of I Believe in Harvey Dent, called "Ibelieve in Harvey Dent too," where e-mails sentby fans slowly removed pixels, revealing the firstofficial image of the Joker; it was ultimatelyreplaced with many "Haha"s and a hiddenmessage that said "see you in December."
• During the 2007 Comic-Con International, 42 Entertainmentlaunched WhySoSerious.com, sending fans on a scavenger huntto unlock a teaser trailer and a new photo of the Joker.• On October 31, 2007, the films website morphed into anotherscavenger hunt with hidden messages, instructing fans touncover clues at certain locations in major cities throughout theUnited States, and to take photographs of their discoveries. Theclues combined to reveal a new photograph of the Joker and anaudio clip of him from the film saying "And tonight, youre gonnabreak your one rule."• Completing the scavenger hunt also led to another websitecalled Rorys Death Kiss (referencing the false working title ofRorys First Kiss), where fans could submit photographs ofthemselves costumed as the Joker. Those who sent photos weremailed a copy of a fictional newspaper called The GothamTimes, whose electronic version led to the discovery ofnumerous other websites.• http://www.whysoserious.com/itsallpartoftheplan/
• After the death of Heath Ledger, on January 22,2008, Warner Bros adjusted its promotionalfocus on the Joker, revising some of its websitesdedicated to promoting the film and posting amemorial tribute to Ledger on the films officialwebsite and overlaying a black memorial ribbonon the photo collage in WhySoSerious.com.• http://batman.wikibruce.com/Whysoserious.com/Itsallpartoftheplan• On February 29, 2008, I Believe in Harvey Dentwas updated to enable fans to send their e-mailaddresses and phone numbers. In March 2008,Harvey Dents fictional campaign informed fansthat actual campaign buses nicknamed"Dentmobiles" would tour various cities topromote Dents candidacy for district attorney
Key aspects of viral marketingwhich make it a success.• Astro-turfing• ‘ARG tasks which are co-ordinatedthrough social networks and played out inthe public domain.• ‘Play’ or ‘Vandalisation’
• Astro-turfing was evidently an important factor inthe success of spreading various viral projectsfor TDK.• The solving of the puzzle on:WhySoSerious.com andwhysoserios.com/Itsallpartoftheplan• Organising real-life joker rallies against HarveyDent on: ibelieveinharveydent.comand http://www.rorysdeathkiss.com/• Registering online for the fictitious GothamTimes through rory’sdeathkiss.com and GCN –Gotham cable News online.• http://batman.wikibruce.com/Takebackourcity@ibelieveinharveydent.com
• Warner Bros devoted six months to an anti-piracy strategy that involved tracking the peoplewho had a pre-release copy of the film at anyone time.• Shipping and delivery schedules were alsostaggered and spot checks were carried out bothdomestically and overseas to ensure illegalcopying of the film was not taking place incinemas.• A pirated copy was released on the Webapproximately 38 hours after the films release.BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay tauntedthe movie industry over its ability to provide themovie free, replacing its logo with a tauntingmessage
Why Virals?• Virals tie into recent developments in Web 2.0technology.• They are the institutions fight back against thenetocracy created by online sites like YouTubeand the loss of direct control over their materialand the semiotic messages contained in them.• Virals are institutions answer to re-establishingan interfacing relationship with a youngertechnological audience.
VIRALS and MASH UPS• YouTube mash-ups.• YouTube has provided audiences with producerly powers and their own unique andniche audiences. Much of the user generated content on YouTube, its themes ormessages cannot be produced by large media institutions because of contentregulations governing their output.• Institutional material and the messages created by them can be/are perverted withaudiences taking advantage of basic filmic skills of download recording, editing anddomestic cameras and phonecams.• A netocracy has been provided by Web 2.0 technology• MASH-UPS allow the public to ‘vandalise’ institutional material.• So why are Mash-Ups allowed?:• ‘play’ with intentionally placed advertising materials by an institution.• Further familiarise a wider audience with the original material.• Foster a ‘sense’ of control and ownership.• Combat a total loss of influence and product placement in and audience controlledmedium.
DISTRIBUTION• In the United States and Canada, The Dark Knight wasdistributed to 4,366 theaters, breaking the previousrecord for the highest number of theaters held by Piratesof the Caribbean: At Worlds End in 2007. The number oftheaters also included 94 IMAX theaters, with the filmestimated to be played on 9,200 screens in the UnitedStates and Canada.• Online, ticketing services sold enormous numbers oftickets for approximately 3,000 midnight showtimes aswell as unusually early showtimes for the films openingday. All IMAX theaters showing The Dark Knight weresold out for the opening weekend.
• The Dark Knight ultimately grossed $67,165,092on its opening day beating the previous recordof $59.8 million held by Spider-Man 3 in 2007• Warner Bros. is re-releasing the film intraditional theaters and IMAX theaters in theUnited States on January 23, 2009, the height ofthe voting for the Academy Awards, in order tofurther the chances of the film winning Oscars.
Home Release• In the United Kingdom, the film hadcombined sales of 513,000 units on itsfirst day of release, of which 107,730(21%) were Blu-ray discs, the highestnumber of first-day Blu-ray discs sold. Inthe United States, The Dark Knight set asales record for most DVDs sold in oneday, selling 3 million copies on DVD on itsfirst day of release - 600,000 of whichwere Blu-ray discs
Audiences and Institutions• You will need to be able to compare theprocess of Hollywood major - WarnerBros. with British film studio e.g. WorkingTitle.