The Dark Knight Rises is due out on July 20th, and as the successor to a movie that spawned one of the longest running ARGs, I was quite expecting this movie to have a viral campaign of its own. However, three months away from the release date, and I’ve heard very little ARG-like buzz about the movie. In fact, I was wondering if there even was an ARG for the movie until I stumbled upon an article that was “trending” on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that just means that Warner Brothers or Yahoo is paying Facebook to put it on their page, not that people are actually talking about it.
As a side note, I never click on article links through Facebook anymore. It’s always asking for me to sign in through Facebook to read the article. I don’t need everyone to know that articles I’m reading. For me, that’s a step too far. So I found the Yahoo article by just Googling it.
After reading the article, I decided to do some digging on the ARG to see if I had just missed the information on its launch.It doesn’t seem as though that is the case. I searched the handy source ARGnet only to discover that the site has only mentioned the game for the movie once in its 2011 review of ARGs. Here is what the blog had to say:
In May, signs of a full-fledged campaign for The Dark Knight Rises were promising, as an audio file on the film’s homepage contained a hidden message leading to the Twitter account thefirerises and a corresponding hashtag. Followers who used the hashtag had their profile picture inserted into a mosaic photograph of Bane. This strategy was akin to an early phase in Why So Serious, where players unlocked pixels in the Joker’s iconic Glasgow smile by submitting their email addresses. However, when a number of faux CIA documents were leaked to Empire and Wired.com’s Underwire blog, the payoff was the ability to transfer GPS coordinates over to the early access to the Operation Early Bird website for tickets to a six-minute preview of the film. Again, this move took a page from the Why So Serious playbook, as players during the Step Right Up phase of the campaign won tickets to an advance screening of the first few minutes of the film. But while The Dark Knight Rises is working from the same playbook, the substance is sorely lacking. The most compelling content to come out of the campaign so far has been the fan-produced Mumble Bane Twitter account, poking fun at the villain’s practically unintelligible dialogue.
This is kind of disappointing news for ARG fans and followers. Why So Serious? was a widely successful game, reaching thousands of people all over the world and creating all kinds of excitement for The Dark Knight‘s release. I was really expecting this next installment to continue the ARG path for movie promotion. The fact that it didn’t is slightly discouraging. It doesn’t make any sense that Warner Brothers didn’t think that the ARG wasn’t successful, because it reached so many people and created so much excitement. The game clearly did its job. However, I have never seen any financial information on the game. Even if it was successful, maybe the cost of such a monumental game was too much for the studio.
However, it does seem as though there some sort of an ARG, just not nearly on the same scale as Why So Serious? The poster that the Yahoo article mentioned is pictured above. At the bottom, it looks to have a hashtag for getting involved in the game. While this game might not be as huge as its predecessor, getting involved might get you some unreleased goodies from the studio before the movie is released.