Batman at Comic Con: The Dark Knight Viral Remembered
The trick with Comic-Con, as Warner Bros. learned the hard way with “Batman Begins,” is that the rabid audience thinks they’re entitled to see exclusive footage first, and they get nasty when the filmmakers don’t deliver.
The reality Comic-Con attendees and comic book fans in general never want to acknowledge is that they are a tiny minority of the movie-going public and their demands cannot supercede opportunities like the one Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II presented this past week, for Warner Bros to release the first teaser trailer to a world-wide audience on the biggest movie-event of the year.
The situation was similar in 2007 when the second Nolan installment The Dark Knight was filming and there was no new footage to launch at Comic Con. Instead, Nolan and Warner Bros devised an ingenious scavenger hunt kicking off the TDK viral Part 1: Why So Serious focusing on the Joker, while keeping Harvey Dent in reserve for a second viral closer to the movie’s opening.
It all started at whysoserious.com, the movie’s viral marketing site, with a scavenger-hunt challenge that would require fans on the ground to partner up with friends online to unlock an exclusive Joker photo (seen here) and teaser trailer.
July 26, 2007 – At the San Diego Comic-Con, “Jokerized” $1 bills are found that lead to Whysoserious.com, a page advertising for jobs as Joker henchmen. The page includes coordinates to a location near the convention center and a countdown clock set to go off the next morning at 10am.
July 27, 2007 – Hundreds gather at the time and place listed on Whysoserious.com. At 10am, a phone number is written in the sky, launching the game. Collaborating with friends online, the assembled crowd (now wearing Joker face paint) is sent on a scavenger hunt throughout the city. After solving all the clues, a fan was selected to be abducted and killed in place of the Joker. The participants at San Diego were given clown masks as a reward, while online players were rewarded with the first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight.
July 30, 2007 – Whysoserious.com is shut down and replaced with Rent-a-clown.com, a clown rental company whose “employees” are the fans from Whysoserious.com. The page contains the message “made you look” hidden in its source code.