Guys, I think we're doing it wrong. We have eight months until the July 20, 2012, release date of "The Dark Knight Rises," and none of this feels right. I mean, yeah, a new Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movie is coming out this summer. Yeah, it's great that he's picked up some of his "Inception" alums to join the cast. And granted, what we've seen from the set does look pretty cool. (Just whose panties is Matthew Modine holding?!?!)
That's all well and good, but do you ever get the feeling something is missing? Think back to the lead-up to the release of "The Dark Knight" back in 2007 and 2008. If you were one of the 10 million people who participated in the "Why So Serious?" and "I Believe in Harvey Dent" marketing campaigns, I'm sure you vividly remember what you were doing. That's because you were most likely running around to bakeries and digging through cakes for hidden cell phones or opening lockers in bowling alleys to look for more clues. At the very least, you followed along at home and watched as people from around the world cooperated just for the chance to get your first glimpse at Heath Ledger's take on the Joker or a vandalized version of the first trailer. When the film finally arrived in theaters, it wasn't just another movie. It was something bigger. "The Dark Knight" became a phenomenon and an experience that you had a part in.
The immersive, alternate reality game that led up to the release of "The Dark Knight" was all the work of one company, 42 Entertainment. The reason we haven't had a similar campaign for "The Dark Knight Rises" is because 42 Entertainment is in no way involved with the project. In the company's absence, a new viral campaign in the vein of "Why So Serious?" exists, but it is nowhere near "Why So Serious?" in terms of quality and quantity.
"The Fire Rises" began as a chant on the film's official website back on May 20. Fans eventually figured out that the visual spectrum of the noise pointed to a Twitter hashtag, #TheFireRises. For each subsequent re-tweet of the tag, Warner Bros. revealed another pixel of what ended up being the first photo of Tom Hardy as Bane.
An impressive and intricate start for the campaign that looked to follow in 42 Entertainment's footsteps, but the clues soon stopped. The Twitter account lay idle until last week, when it told followers to add their voice to Hans Zimmer's score via UJAM, several days after that news originally broke.
But even removing the added layer of complexity that comes with an alternate reality game or a simple viral marketing campaign isn't enough to explain the bungled anticipation for "The Dark Knight Rises."
Instead of simply looking forward to a film without having any elaborate task to complete, which is how fans of all other films spend their pre-releases, those who follow "The Dark Knight Rises" have been subjected to a deluge of spy photos and videos from the set. The main reason for Warner Bros.'s hurried release of an official Catwoman photo was the existence of amateur pictures.
Avoiding pictures of Bane or the Batwing or Batman leading the charge with the police in tow is not an option anymore. Since the information is so widely available, it's all simply part of the conversation now. We cover it here simply because the information is out there, and people want to know — all of which begs the question, "Why are we doing this?"
Why is there a drive to find out everything about a film before you see it in its proper form? I can't help but believe that there is at least some subconscious battle of egos among Batman fans here, where the one who knows the most information that they're not supposed to know is somehow superior. Here I was thinking that the whole point of all of this was that we are looking forward to seeing a movie, one that is meticulously structured with surprises and turns that are created to be enjoyed only within the context of the film and not a video some extra recorded on her iPhone. No one was scrambling to find out everything about "Inception" before its release. It had the benefit of a normal ad campaign and launch. Even if "The Dark Knight Rises" isn't going to get the full 42 Entertainment treatment, it at least deserves a normal release along the lines of "Inception."
Now is a good time to remember that when it comes to Christopher Nolan movies, the one who goes in knowing the least is the one who has the most fun.
What have you thought of the lead-up to "The Dark Knight Rises"? Let me know via @KPSull on Twitter, and we'll discuss next week.
Here's a rundown of this past week's "The Dark Knight Rises" news. The MPAA granted "The Dark Knight Rises" prologue a PG-13 rating. College Humor examined just how Batman found his voice. We visited the New York set for a look at and not much else. And lastly, here are some new plot rumors.
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."