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BATMAN BEGINS: The Marketing and Publicity was FINE!
Sunday, July 17, 2005

“Why couldn’t Warner Bros. have marketed BATMAN BEGINS like the FANTASTIC 4?”

That’s the question I see popping up on message boards and in emails I receive almost daily. There seems to be this belief that if BATMAN BEGINS had been shoved down our consumer throats, it would have done SPIDER-MAN-like numbers.


If Warner Bros. had dropped the ball when it came to publicizing BATMAN BEGINS, I’d have been the first to criticize them. But in this case, very little - if any - criticism needs to be directed their way. The situation with BATMAN BEGINS - the fifth BATMAN film in the last 16 years - is different than FANTASTIC 4. Aside from the cheesy Roger Corman F4 film that was never released, there has never been a live-action adaptation of that comic book. There have only been two SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN films each (as of this writing), and neither franchise has the stigma of a BATMAN AND ROBIN in their recent past. More on that topic in a bit. Plus, F4 is crap and had a 59.5% drop from opening weekend to the next. BEGINS' largest drop has been 43.9% from one weekend to the next.

Yeah, I really wish Warner had taken that F4 route.

Warner Bros. chose a low-key approach to advertise their new BATMAN film, banking on the diehard fans (such as you and me), positive word of mouth, and the fact that “BATMAN” is an icon, to get people in theaters. Oh, and the fact that it is one of this year’s best pictures period didn’t hurt either.

To date, BATMAN BEGINS has raked in nearly $180 million dollars domestically, and will surely top $200 million. Combined that with the over $132 million dollars (and counting) it has made overseas, this is a movie that is heading for a $350 million worldwide box office! So if you subscribe to this theory of advertisement mismanagement, how much more would BATMAN BEGINS have made if it had been publicized properly? $100 million domestic? Please. I’ll concede that it may have took in a bit more the first five days of release, but in the long run it would have been a wash.

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Don’t underestimate the ghost of BATMAN AND ROBIN. That film has haunted the BATMAN franchise since June of ‘97. This overly camp and idiotic film was like a demon that possessed the minds of millions of movie patrons. And to be honest, BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN RETURNS didn’t help either. There has not be a quality “Batman” film since 1989’s BATMAN - and that was now over sixteen years ago. The only thing that was going to right the ship, so to speak, was an exorcism to cast out this B&R ghost. And that ritual was BATMAN BEGINS.

Perhaps it is that you are simply disappointed that The Batman didn’t get the run that you think an iconic character like he is should have gotten. That’s fair. But that does not mean that the marketing approach negatively affected the box office - because it didn’t. There is a BIG difference between being disappointed in the "lack of exposure" that BATMAN BEGINS got, and trying to blame it for the box office take. The money it has made makes the latter argument a moot point.

“Well, they could have made it clear that it was a restart,” you tell me. Ok, what did you want them to do? Attach a disclaimer with every TV spot, movie trailer and teaser, and one-sheet that said “THIS IS A RESTART. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PREVIOUS FOUR FILMS. IT ISN'T A ‘PREQUEL’ EITHER.”

Come on.

Again, if Warner had done just that, do you think it would have brought more money? The average movie-goer couldn’t care less if it was a restart, prequel, or sequel. All they cared about was whether or not it was a good film. And it is an excellent film and that showed in BEGINS‘ box office legs. And to be frank, Batman done right is not for everyone - it is certainly not kiddie fare.

So, relax. BATMAN BEGINS is a hit. Is it a huge BATMAN ‘89 type of summer blockbuster? No. That will probably never happen again with a BATMAN film. But keep in mind that many people will see BATMAN BEGINS for the first time on DVD. I expect DVD sales and rentals to be huge. Combine that with the fact that arguably the greatest comic book villain will be in the sequel - The Joker - I foresee the next Bat-film to exceed the success of BATMAN BEGINS.

And yes, BATMAN BEGINS IS a success - no disclaimer and/or shove-down-the-throat advertising needed.

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM.
© 2005 W.E. Ramey.

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