Fan Viral Delivers A Dark Knight Rises Experience Free of Corporate Tie-Ins
There’s more to fan fiction than locking Harry Potter in a broom closet. This Catwoman fan series has orchestrated a multi-site viral campaign that offers fans a more immersive Gotham City experience than the official Dark Knight Rises viral.
In 2008, Batman fans were able to whet their appetites for The Dark Knight by living as citizens of Gotham City. They could subscribe to The Gotham Times, rat out dishonest cops to a tip line run by future District Attorney Harvey Dent, work for the Dent campaign, and if they visited the wrong sites, they could even get a call from Jim Gordon drafting them into an elaborate sting operation.
In 2012, you’re invited to edit some clips from The Dark Knight Rises into a commercial for a Chrysler 300 and enter codes from Mountain Dew caps to win prizes like a speically-skinned X-Box. Where once fans visited The Times website like any citizen of Gotham City to get news from inside the world of the movie, here pages of a newspaper are buried within the Mountain Dew site where every refresh of the home page runs a video reminds you it’s just a movie.
“There’s no story to it and no logic to it,” said one veteran of the 2008 campaign. “It’s just ‘Here, click around, there’s some Batman stuff.’”
While the lackluster viral has not dampened excitement for the movie itself, the fan fiction series Cat-Tales did step up to fill in some of the gaps for pre-release fun. Series creator Chris Dee says “Fans want that community experience before the movie opens. If you’ve ever been to one of those 12:01 screening on opening day, the whole theater is crackling with electricity a half-hour before the lights go down. There is such a high in being surrounded by 200 strangers who are passionately excited about the same thing you are. I think that’s what most people want from a viral marketing event or an alternate reality game. We want to be kids again and play together, pretend. If the studios behind the big virals engage our imaginations again, instead of worrying about what ‘Call to action’ will get the most Facebook shares, I guarantee you, enthusiasm will take care of the rest.”
The Fan viral begins at The Gotham Post, a decidedly earthier newspaper than the staid Times of the first viral. Fans may remember it was The Gotham Post that heralded Batman and Bruce Wayne’s return in Batman Begins, so even though Dee stresses her viral is not official, it, like The Dark Knight Rises seems to be grounding itself in the first film of the Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. From the Post site, readers may visit Wayne Enterprises, the Gotham City News station GCN (be warned, there have been some programming changes since the explosion at Gotham General Hospital turned them into “the 24-hour Batman Hate-on Station”) or the website of The Gotham Rogues football team, which can’t seem to recover from the repeated hack attacks of the Occupy Gotham movement, or even Gotham’s favorite sports bar The Rising Fire. In the end, readers make their way to Gotham After Dark where an extraordinary story unfolds chapter by chapter, which readers now primed with the details of this Gotham City may determine by voting at the end of each installment.
The first three episodes involved some disillusioned Citizens for Batman who have now taken it upon themselves to hunt The Dark Knight. Thanks to reader voting, the story turned in episode 4 to follow a mysterious cat burglar the “Cabbies” saw on the horizon, and oh what we learn as we enter the mind of Selina Kyle and follow her behind the scenes on a heist.
The Dark Knight Rises is Christopher Nolan’s third and final installment of his Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and other Nolan alums Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, to be released by Warner Bros. July 20 2012
Cat-Tales is a fan fiction series which depicts a fascinating version of the Batman universe where the stories told in comic books are understood to be the lies and distortions of a tabloid called The Gotham Post. It is unaffiliated with Warner Brothers, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Legendary Pictures or… anyone really.
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