Back in December 2007 Warner Bros. sent out the opening bank robbery sequence from the then-forthcoming The Dark Knight attached to IMAX screenings of I Am Legend. It was a risky move on the studio’s part and it didn’t take long for the footage to leak online, but it paid off splendidly the next year and was one of the highlights of Warner’s aggressive marketing campaign for the movie, particularly as it provided an early showcase for the production’s beautiful IMAX cinematography (several scenes from the movie were shot in the format). Therefore, it would make sense for the studio to go with what has proven successful in the past in regards to the marketing for next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Rumor has it that a 6-minute prologue from The Dark Knight Rises will run before every showing of another highly-anticipated tentpole sequel, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, when that film opens in IMAX theaters on December 18, five days before it reaches regular movie theaters. Both films feature extensive use of the IMAX format and are geared towards the same target audience, so this move could once again prove beneficial for the Batman franchise, provided that Ghost Protocol has the kind of box office might that I Am Legend did and the footage used for the prologue is interesting enough to really get people talking about The Dark Knight Rises.
The opening sequence of The Dark Knight was a tense, frenetic, and masterfully photographed scene that also served to provide a dynamic introduction to the movie’s villain, the Joker (as played by the late Heath Ledger). It truly got moviegoers primed for the epic that would ultimately unfold the following July to record-breaking box office. But The Dark Knight had been in the public eye consistently in the year or so before it opened thanks to the studio’s heavy promotional muscle, which included a innovative viral marketing campaign. Thus far The Dark Knight Rises has been pretty quiet on the promotional front outside of some brief and vague viral videos, a cool teaser poster, and a hastily-assembled teaser trailer that was released after production had barely began. The biggest presence the movie has had in the online realm has been in the form of an endless stream of spy videos showing various integral sequences being shot. Maybe that’s Warner’s game this time around.
I was sort of hoping the studio’s marketing division would take an even more radical approach to selling The Dark Knight Rises to the uninformed public, like driving across the country with the actors living and performing scenes from the movie in the back of a flatbed truck. Imagine the possibilities of that concept: Christian Bale and Tom Hardy can storm the filming locations on every movie being made at the time and get into impromptu fisticuffs. A helicopter can fly the Batwing over the stadium during the next Super Bowl!
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol opens in IMAX on December 16, 2011 and in regular theaters on December 21. The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20, 2012. I wonder if we’ll get out first full look at Bane in the prologue, or scenes of Gotham City in chaos. Anything can happen. What are your thoughts?