The Dark Knight

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The Dark Knight

  1. 1. Not the Advertising Campaign it deserved, but the one it needed. The Advertising Campaign of the Dark Knight
  2. 2. Intellectual Property Batman was a comic book character created by Bob Kane. Rapidly becoming popular, over the years Batman went through a series of different incarnations ranging from campy to dystopian. Famous examples of comic books with him in it include “The Killing Joke” and “The Dark Knight Returns”. Along with Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman is one of the most famous DC Comics superheroes. The large fan-base he has means that any movie he’s in is assured an audience however good the film ultimately turns out to be.
  3. 3. Former attempts Batman has undergone both positively and negatively reviewed adaptions throughout history. Tim Burton’s Batman film was positively reviewed by critics. Later attempts, like Batman and Robin, were not.
  4. 4. First Installment The first film in what would become known as the “Dark Knight Trilogy” was “Batman Begins”. Released in 2005 to critical acclaim, it reinvented Batman Films with a darker edge and an emphasis on the themes of fear and corruption. The film’s major success virtually guaranteed a sequel.
  5. 5. The cast from Batman Begins returned mostly unaltered, with the exception of the replacement of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhall. Gillian Murphy got a cameo as the Scarecrow, reprising his role from Batman Brgins, but the most important new cast members were Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and the controversial choice of Heath Ledger as the Joker. For Batman’s most iconic villain, it seemed incomprehensible that an actor specializing in romcoms should be chosen.
  6. 6. Initially. The Joker is Batman's archenemy; the peak of his Rouge's gallery. Just as Spiderman 2's advertising campaign dwelt around the new adversary Doctor Octopus, the advertising campaign of the new “Dark Knight” film was largely influenced by the Joker. This was made even more important by the previous Tim Burton Batman film (1989) in which “Jack Nicholson won praise for his deranged take on the comic-book villain”. This left The Dark Knight with big shoes to fill, especially compared to Batman Begins, which had used villains that were much less iconic in popular culture with the Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul. The advertising campaign focussed heavily on this new, even darker incarnation. Much of the advertising had a viral nature, playing upon the symbolism and madness of the Joker to create fan awareness.
  7. 7. As you can see from this poster, the marketing company is relying on the Joker’s iconic methods to make him stand out. For this, less is very much more, as the sparse pane of glass draws out the red of the lipstick, making it resemble blood. It also makes the Joker seem blurry, adding a sense of enigma to the picture. However, the focus on Joker was disrupted when tragedy struck. The actor who played Joker in the film, Heath Ledger, died from a toxic combination of prescription drugs. This forced the makers of the film to change marketing strategy. Most of the viral marketing, which had done it’s work anyway, was retracted. The viral marketing campaign had included teaser trailers dealing with the interplay between the Joker and Harvey Dent’s political campaign. Harvey Dent, a D.A., becomes Two-Face in the DC comics.
  8. 8. The new marketing focus was on the other Batman villain to appear in the film: Two-Face. The marketing of Two-Face never gave any reference to the madman himself, as D.A. Harvey Dent does not become him until late in the film and his transformation is one of the film’s primary story arcs. Instead his fake advertisement campaign received attention. This subtle approach allowed fans to generate a viral hype of the character.
  9. 9. The movie was released in 2008 during the summer, a standard release date for blockbusters as the principal audience –the teenagers and young adults that make up most of the population of comic book fans would be out of school. Tie-in material would include the usual assortment of action figures and McDonalds toys. Interestingly, though a video game was planned for the Dark Knight, it was cancelled and the award winning Batman: Arkham Asylum was released instead, which spawned its own series of sequels.
  10. 10. The Dark Knight received critical acclaim (94% positive reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. It was positively received by fans and Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker. The total worldwide gross was $1,004,558,444, a resounding financial success. An interesting point to note is although a lot of praise did come from comic book sites like IGN and largely viewer-based sites like IMDB, the appreciation was matched by serious film critics like Roger Ebert, who gave it four stars and said that: “The "comic book movie" has at last reclaimed its deep archetypal currents.”
  11. 11. The production companies involved in creating the Dark Knight were: Legendary pictures: Action and sci-fi focus on films Syncopy Films: A small production company set up by Nolan and his wife. And DC comics: the actual owner of Batman. The distribution company was the massive Warner Bros pictures. Warner Bros do everything they can license essentially.

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