The Dark Knight Rises to be Front and Center at CinemaCon
IndieWire has observed that the old National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) convention in Las Vegas has changed in more substantive ways than altering its name from ShoWest to CinemaCon. The change reflects the changed relationship between the Hollywood studios that present there and the theater-owners themselves. The neighborhood movie house has been reduced from the One and Only contact point between a movie and its audience to one of many options “now that consumers are demanding access to on-demand video content on multiple platforms.” With the change in distribution came a change in marketing. A movie like The Dark Knight Rises has so much life before and after those few weeks in the summer of 2012, it cannot be sold the way, say, Tim Burton’s Batman was in 1989. That leaves studios in a delicate position with theatre owners: still important but no longer the burning sun at the center of the marketing and distribution universe.
Both are invested in a priceless commodity: audiences sitting alone in the dark. As producer Jim Stark once told me: “Nothing beats five weeks of good word-of-mouth.”
Thus it’s in the studios’ interest this year, especially, to make nice with exhibition. Besides, the studios know that any upbeat buzz out of CinemaCon on their summer movies will go viral. It’s a win-win. (On the other hand, bad word on movies, especially those freighted with high expectations, can be toxic.)
Naturally, with the most anticipated movie of 2012 on its docket, Warner Bros. was the first studio to announce its CinemaCon program:
As part of their annual “State of the Industry” featuring MPAA Chairman & CEO Christopher Dodd and NATO President and CEO John Fithian, on Tuesday April 24th at 9:30am Warners will hawk its summer product for the second year in a row, with WB president Jeff Robinov, Distribution chief Dan Fellman, and International Distribution head Veronika Vandenberg on hand to intro:
“The Dark Knight Rises”—Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, and Morgan Freeman.
Predictably, fan sites like Batman-News began fueling hopes of “new footage.” While it is a possibility, it’s a remote one. The fanboy’s mistaken desire to know more than is good for them before the film opens and their propensity to misunderstand any gathering ending in the letters “Con” is at work. While it’s true that in 2008, Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, and Maggie Gyllenhaal were trucked out to show footage from The Dark Knight, including the prologue, that material was rolled out previously as part of The Dark Knight Why So Serious/I Believe in Harvey Dent viral. That is where studios like Warner Bros play their big cards in the 21st century: on the Internet stage, in the twitterverse, the blogospher, and across the social networks.