Will customers confuse Batman: The Dark Knight Returns with Dark Knight Rises?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Does DC Entertainment have a marketing dilemma on their hands?

DC's newest animated movie is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, the first of a duo of direct-to-DVD releases based on Frank Miller's 1986 DC Comics miniseries, and later best-selling graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns.

The original miniseries predates by far Christopher Nolan's recent Dark Knight live-action movie trilogy. The similarity of Nolan's titles to Miller's is not coincidental, however, and Dark Knight Returns can't help but have been an influence on aspects of Nolan's Dark Knight Rises.

But the similarity of the titles may result in some confusion, for better or worse.

Here's one review of the new animated movie (whether the review is meant seriously is debatable):
I have not seen this movie, nor will I. Consumers should be aware. This is NOT "DARK KNIGHT RISES" with Christian Bale. It is a play on titles.
This is reminiscent of the controversy over the Green Lantern movie featuring Hal Jordan and not John Stewart -- the expectations of the comics-buying public are one thing and the expectations of the non-comics-buying public are another, and these can sometimes clash unexpectedly.

Among other "reviews" for Dark Knight Returns are a couple clearly reviewing Rises instead. And then, of course, there's the just plain bizarre:
After my scrapbooking workshop at the community center, there is a local flea market at an abandoned grocery store that I like to visit on Tuesdays. It's about a two and half hour ride on the bus so it breaks it up a bit for me. Inside the flea market there is a dealer who sells Hot Wheels, car stereos and new movies. Many of which have not come out on video or the theaters yet. Being a Batman fan, I was looking forward to the animated version of the classic story by Frank Miller. As my luck would have it, the dealer had the movie on DVD for sale at his table. Suffice it to say, I was all too excited. ...

To be honest, I wanted to like this movie, heck, I wanted to love it. ... Most of the time, I could not hear what was being said, and the rest of the time the video quality was about as good as when I would try to watch scrambled Cinemax late at night on my grandma's tv. They must of realized this and gave up because the movie just ends. A lot of people say this, but I remember the book being longer in content and substance that what this offered.
Obviously there's just no pleasing some people.

Some of this confusion may of course be intended by DC for purposes of selling Returns to Rises fans. The initial box art for Dark Knight Returns, at least, does not emphasize Bruce Wayne's age nor the story's future setting, as if to make it seem more, not less, similar to Dark Knight Rises.
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  1. That last review reminds me of the time I read Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 and was disappointed when it just seemed to... end. It's not like there's something in the title that would indicate, I don't know, another part coming? Like a "Part 1" right there on the cover?

    (Of course, SCW Vol. 1 does have one killer cliffhanger of an ending. I can't attest to how Animated TDKR Part 1 ends.)

  2. I don't think this is an issue. Not to mention that the second review was obviously a joke/trolling (he mentions that he's writing it on his "Tandy desk top computer").

    If you're looking at this movie on the shelf at Wal-Mart, I'm sure that if you look at the back cover you'll clearly see that it's animated. On the Amazon page, none of the actors are the same and next to format it says "Animated". If someone buys this accidentally (and I'm sure it will happen), it'll be due to their own ignorance, not because they were misled.

    Since we're discussing this topic, I saw this in my local movie store recently. A Thor movie (starring former WWE wrestler "Kevin Nash" as Odin):


  3. Maybe his bootleg flea-market copy didn't clearly state that it was only Part 1.

  4. I found the timing of this release suspect myself. I do keep thinking of the Nolan movie when I see news on this. The confusion actually makes me less excited about it, ironically.

  5. Gotta say, I think you'd have to be pretty stupid to confuse the two. The box art looks nothing like any of the promotional material surrounding Dark Knight Rises. Plus it says its part one. People who've seen Rises surely have some inkling that it was the last in the trilogy?

    It's difficult for me to say though to be honest, as I sell comics online and have been keeping track of when this would be released, so I guess I'm pretty clued up about this stuff compared to Joe Public.

    PS I love Dark Knight returns part one! Brought the comic to life in the most awesome way possible!

  6. It's already happening. People on SlickDeals pre-ordered this movie thinking it was Dark Knight Rises and are complaining to find out it's animated.

  7. And the idea of a 2-parter is so silly (and obviously a marketing ploy)

  8. It's a two-parter because each DC animated movie only runs for about 75 minutes, and that wouldn't be enough to do TDKR justice. Sure, they could release the whole thing in one go, but I believe a 150-minute-long, straight-to-video animated movie is unheard of.

  9. "shagamu said I believe a 150-minute-long, straight-to-video animated movie is unheard of."

    That must be because they don't make Dvds that can hold a 150 minute movie, Oh wait they do! So it's obviously DC/Warner Brothers milking the audience. Don't take me wrong I'm very interested in checking out this animated adaption of Dark Knight Returns, but there is no reason to split the movie in two, that just screams trying to get extra money.

  10. I think it's more a matter of recouping costs than milking fans. A 150-minute-long animated movie is twice as expensive to produce as a regular one, and since this business model is entirely reliant on home video sales, I don't think this product would be well-received by costumers if Warner Bros doubled its price instead of splitting it in two parts.

  11. Considering the fact that the whole marketing ploy and theme of the new Batman movie is 'RISE', you'd think people would be able to tell the difference if they turn the dvd/blu-ray around and see animated characters on the back.

    Or maybe the Returns Part 1 would alert some people. Even if they do watch it and buy it, they'd probably like it anyway.