The Dark Knight Partners Are Sticking By Their TDK Deals

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The Biz: Warner Bros., Partners Dealt Unexpected Card For Knight

January 28, 2008

BRANDS, not surprisingly, tend to shy away from controversy and bad news. But not always. In the case of Dark Knight, the film's half-dozen partners are sticking by their deals with Warner Bros.

The tragic death from a suspected drug overdose last week of actor and Dark Knight star Heath Ledger, who re-imagines the role of the Joker, is still sinking in with fans, his loved ones and the Hollywood community. There are numerous questions about how he died—results from toxicology tests are expected within two weeks after an inconclusive autopsy—and about how the loss will affect the films he was working on.

Word came late last week that production shut down on Terry Gilliam's $30 million fantasy flick The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which co-starred Ledger. The indie studio behind the movie, Infinity Features, will have to decide whether to replace Ledger, scrap the project or find a way to finish without him, according to Brandweek's sister publication, The Hollywood Reporter.

Ledger's work in The Dark Knight, the followup to the hugely successful Batman Begins starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan, is complete, and the July 18 release date hasn't changed. Promotional partners are standing by their programs and reportedly won't need to scrap any related marketing materials. The reason: they did not focus on the ghoulish Joker character, instead preferring to center their campaigns on the hero, Batman.

That's been the norm for brand/movie tie-ins for years, with corporate partners choosing not to align too closely with the bad guys.

"Brands want to associate with the handsome, all-American hero who saves the day, whether that's for promotions or product placement," said Sabrina Ironside, an entertainment consultant and longtime studio executive with a history of marrying advertisers and entertainment. "They're less interested in putting their brands and products side-by-side with villains."

Ledger himself had named some decidedly edgy reference points for his Joker performance—Sid Vicious and A Clockwork Orange—and called the character a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy." The studio declined to name the marketing partners, though Brandweek previously reported Hershey's link to Dark Knight via various bat-shaped and bat-stamped candy, with related contests that give away high-tech gadgets, Ducati motorcycles and movie-related tchotchkes.

Warner Bros. wouldn't comment on what changes may be made to the movie's marketing plan, much of which has featured the Joker character prominently in trailers and viral outreach. Sensitivity to Ledger's family and fans are top of mind, though there's undeniable buzz already in the fanboy world about Ledger's eye-catching interpretation of the role.

The situation also arises as the studio has just gone through an abrupt changing of the guard, with Warner Bros. veteran Dawn Taubin replaced as head of film marketing by international marketing chief Sue Kroll. Warner Bros. hasn't altered its merchandise plans, and its toy partner, Mattel, likely will include Joker product in the lines it shows at the New York Toy Fair next month.

E-mail: [email protected]
http://www.brandweek.com/bw/magazine/columns/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003702485


Well, that's good.
 
Well, that's good.

Pretty much shows even more so that yes the film is done, if it was going to have problems all the companies with tie ins would have left. TDK has none of those problems and will continue 100% the way its suppose to.
 
I felt like a heel for eagerly seeing if Heath's work on TDK was completely finished amid hearing news of his death, but the more I thought about it I just realized that there was nothing wrong about it. I was looking forward to his performance since the teaser was released and nothing's changed from that. It's still simply wanting to see a very talented actor doing what I thought would be his finest role and I still believe we'll see that. Confirmation of his completing the film is a bittersweet condolence, but at least I know his final role will be seen in its entirety, as Heath would've wanted it to be.
 
I can't understand that fear a lot of us have that people would shy away from a movie because one of its stars died during post-production...

First, the viral marketing stopped. But hell, the viral marketing was not about Heath Ledger, but about the Joker, a character. It should resume immediately, why would you consider it an offense if you can consider it a tribute?

And now this article about parteners sticking to their deals... Well damn right they're sticking to them, why would it be otherwise? The movie will still be released and be a massive hit, why would everybody leave the boat?

Heath Ledger is dead and this is upsetting for his relatives, fans, and saddening for the rest of the world. But the Joker is just a character, brilliantly interpreted if there's any truth to all the buzz that's going on about Heath's performance. The Joker is still here as long as he doesn't die in the movie, if he does.

Lessening the impact of the last movie Ledger starred in through a slow down in marketing is more an insult to his memory than a sign of respect. Death should be the consecration of one's life and work, not an obstacle.
 
I have doubts that TDK will be delivered as planned, no changes will be made as to the final product due to Ledger's death.

BUT, what about Batman 3? I wonder if WB will delay future sequels and even work on re-writing the basic plots because of all this. I hope they don't sway from what they had planned for Batman 3 all along, and instead find a suitable new Joker (the acting may be the hardest part, getting an actor that looks like Heath should not be the biggest problem due to the amount of makeup that goes into making Joker look like a Joker).

I know Heath's die hard fans may hate the idea of re-casting but I think Heath would not have wanted it any other way. He cares about the material so he wouldn't say something like "Hey if I'm not around do the role, then nobody else should".
 
I have doubts that TDK will be delivered as planned, no changes will be made as to the final product due to Ledger's death.

BUT, what about Batman 3? I wonder if WB will delay future sequels and even work on re-writing the basic plots because of all this. I hope they don't sway from what they had planned for Batman 3 all along, and instead find a suitable new Joker (the acting may be the hardest part, getting an actor that looks like Heath should not be the biggest problem due to the amount of makeup that goes into making Joker look like a Joker).

I know Heath's die hard fans may hate the idea of re-casting but I think Heath would not have wanted it any other way. He cares about the material so he wouldn't say something like "Hey if I'm not around do the role, then nobody else should".

WB has nothing to do with the writing process. When the writer's strike is over the Nolan brothers will most likely start working on the next movie. Whatever they decide to write into the script will determine whether or not Joker will be necessary for the film. Basically, if they want the character to play a part in 3, then they will hire a new actor. Other wise, they will just write Joker out of the script.
 
As of now, nothing else than pure fan speculation leads us to believe the Joker will still be alive or even free after TDK. Although I have to admit that before Ledger died I was kind of hoping the Joker would just be locked away in TDK and escape in the third installment.

Now I hope he dies... Not that another actor could not be the Joker, but taking into account the very specific way Ledger chose to play the role, a new actor would have to impersonate Ledger playing the Joker instead of becoming the Joker himself and in his own way, which is not a good choice as far as an actor's creativity is concerned.

Oh well... I believe in Chris Nolan anyway.
 
WB has nothing to do with the writing process. When the writer's strike is over the Nolan brothers will most likely start working on the next movie. Whatever they decide to write into the script will determine whether or not Joker will be necessary for the film. Basically, if they want the character to play a part in 3, then they will hire a new actor. Other wise, they will just write Joker out of the script.
I'd prefer them to keep the story the way it was intended... a re-write due to this tragedy could very well mean a lesser 3rd film in the end. Plus a character as legendary as the Joker probably won't be killed off in TDK, not in this series. If he returns (which I think is what they had planned to do in the 3rd movie), then a re-cast would probably happen.
 
I don't want to see another actor playing Joker in Batman 3. Change the script, conk in a CGI ledger talking in Arkham from the shadows.

I don't want to see the Joker again in Nolan's trilogy. Its not right anymore.
Just change the script.
 
I don't want the joker to die in TDK (that's what almost ruined Burton Batman films) but have him either out there somehwere in Gotham (ala Johnathan Crane and some of the imates from 'Begin) or imprisoned in Arkhamn.

I don't want any other person to play the Joker in Batmn 3, leave that role in Heath's memory in Nolan's series of Batman movies (which I hope ends at 3).

Just have Harvey Dent be the main focus/Villian of Batman 3.

To me he's as much an interesting character a the joker and certianly more tragic. He an carry the film if the character is done correctly.
 
I just can't imagine how the press and interviews will go during the month of release.... every interview including the screening will feel very dark in mood, I believe the feeling of dread and sadness will stay for months until a little while after the film is no longer playing theaters.
 
I love things like this b/c its capitalism masquerading as humanity. Why would they abandon a movie that's expected to be a sure fire hit? These "partners" are sticking around to show their "solidarity."

But you can bet if TDK was getting crappy early buzz and expected to be a BO dud these "partners" would use Ledger's death as their exit and escape under the "its tasteless to promote a film like this when a major actor in it died so recently."
 
Why are people assuming there is a Batman 3 script?
 
I love things like this b/c its capitalism masquerading as humanity. Why would they abandon a movie that's expected to be a sure fire hit? These "partners" are sticking around to show their "solidarity."

But you can bet if TDK was getting crappy early buzz and expected to be a BO dud these "partners" would use Ledger's death as their exit and escape under the "its tasteless to promote a film like this when a major actor in it died so recently."

Exactly.
 
I am ashamed to think it but if I were to consider any other actor having a level of charisma to pull off the role of the Joker in Nolans vision it would be Johnny Depp.
 
no. no. no. yes, johhny depp would give the movie some nice mainstream marchee (sp), but think about this.

Dark Knight 2.
A two-face story. batman not only fighting a new enemy, but also internally fighting. it would be THE movie about dualism. and playing the joker, the scarred side of the coin of batman, would be cristian bale. don't say he couldn't pull it off. he played crazy in american pycho and he was damn good. and the personification of dualism would be evident in two-face. it is the stuff time sale has wet dreams about. and bale has the body for the role as well. i think it would be the only way to get around ledgers death without seeming tasteless. it shifts the focus of the role not being portrayed by ledger rather than tip-toeing around it and pretending it never happened.
 
I can't understand that fear a lot of us have that people would shy away from a movie because one of its stars died during post-production...

It actually works the opposite way. Dying young is passport to be a legend and your last movie will be specially curious-attraction.
 
I truly hope Ledger died of natural causes and not an overdose!
 
well, your post count was 11,11 so make a wish
 

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