Earlier this morning, Warner Brothers quietly created the first website for the astronomically-anticipated final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
The website, www.thedarkknightrises.com, is an entirely black screen with a sound file inserted featuring an incomprehensible chant. Someone very clever out in the interwebs opened up the sound-file and was able to look at the visual spectrum of the sound which revealed a Twitter hashtag inserted into the chant itself!
When someone ‘tweeted’ using the aforementioned hashtag, their avatar image was added to a special subpage, http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/image.html, which utilised the hashtag art (http://hashtagart.com/) facility to begin constructing an image out of the dark.
As a few hours passed and snowballing effect of social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook went in to overdrive, the image became more and more complete. Below are a few snap-shots from during the process:
There is something quite fantastic in all of this: the way that social networks are working together to achieve a common goal, visualised literally by having all the participants’ images stitched together to actually complete that particular goal.
When the image was complete, the first image of Tom Hardy as Bane from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was revealed. Personally, I haven’t been this excited since the first image of Heath ledger as the Joker was produced for this films predecessor, The Dark Knight. That image was revealed in a similar way although the rise of Twitter and Facebook has lead to a far easier means of communicating the same message and involving participants from the start more easily.
On May 19th 2007, almost exactly four years ago today, The Dark Knight viral campaign also began and in a similar way. The site www.ibelieveinharveydent.com was established showing a campaign poster of Aaron Eckhart as the doomed District Attorney a few days prior. On May 19th, a Californian comic book store was found covered in Joker playing cards with the words “HaHaHa – I believe in Harvey Dent TOO”. Fans traveled to the website www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com where they were presented with the same campaign poster but one which had already been ‘defaced by the joker’. Below the image was an input box for users to enter their email addresses.
Participants were sent an email with the haunting message:
“I always say, you never know what a man is truly made of until you peel the skin off his face one piece at a time. Here is your chance to help”
Below the message was a URL as well as an ‘X’ and a ‘Y’ coordinate. The URL took users to a space on the previously mentioned site for them to enter their coordinates. Once entered, the coordinates removed one pixel from the defaced campaign poster.
As word spread online, more and more pixels were removed until the first image of Heath Ledger as the Joker was presented and thus began the viral marketing campaign.
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ began shooting on Friday 6th May at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India – only two weeks ago, so for the viral marketing campaign to start this earlier is pretty astonishing.
The reaction by fans and cynics alike online today has been overwhelmingly positive and will hopefully remove any memories of Joel Schumacher’s S&M, pantomime abortion which was his 1997 version of Bane from ‘Batman & Robin. 14 years of waiting has seemingly paid off given the reaction today although we’ll have to wait until July 2012 to see how Tom Hardy and Chris Nolan reintroduce us to Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.