prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Dark Knight Falls Short

Posted by prof e on July 29, 2012

The latest in the Dark Knight series is struggling to bounce back from the tragic shooting in Aurora that appears to be having a greater impact on attendance than initially projected. It may appear callous to be talking about box office receipts and financial success when so many lives were lost and others were changed forever. But that is the nature of the business of big media. The studio, Warner Brothers, took steps to try to appear sensitive to the tragic shooting. They delayed reports of box office receipts that first weekend and cancelled premiere events in Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo. According to the WSJ, a spokesperson for the studio said, “We just felt it would be disrespectful and not the right thing to do to go forward.” Warner Bros also pulled trailers for Gangster Squad from theaters because of a scene that includes shooting up a movie theater. Meanwhile, security has been beefed-up and theater chains are implementing new rules about patrons showing up in outfits and masks.

Christian Bales’ surprise visit to patients in Aurora hospitals was certainly well-received by both the patients and the media. The visit may have been inspired by a Facebook viral campaign calling for the star to make a visit to the victims. And while I sincerely hope that the visit was made for all the right reasons, we’re sure to hear criticism from skeptics and cynics who question motives whenever fame and fortune is at stake.

Public Relations experts have been weighting in on the difficult position facing Warner Bros. Some had advised that all screenings of Dark Knight Rises be pulled for a short time. Others have argued for business as usual. According to a report by Fox News, Daniel Keeney, President of DPK Public Relations and PR crisis expert, believes that the best response is to acknowledge and move forward.

“There realistically is no way in the foreseeable future to extricate the Batman brand from this horrific tragedy,” he said. “So instead of hoping to get beyond this, the studio needs to accept that this event is a part of this movie from this point forward. A simple way to acknowledge this and recognize as well as honor the victims is to add a slide to the beginning of the movie along with a moment of silence prior to the start of the film.”

According to a report filed by LA radio station WKZO,

Ronn Torossian, chief executive of New York-based 5W Public Relations, agreed that the public “has a very short-term memory” of news events and said the Aurora shooting would not leave a long-term impact on film promotion. “Reality shows have had tragic suicides and other incidents, yet reality shows continue,” he said.

Of course it is entirely possible that Word-Of-Mouth and film critic reviews are responsible for the lackluster performance. But it is also possible that potential movie-goers are not in the mood for a film that will remind them of senseless killing by a deranged “Joker” from Aurora.

22 Responses to “Dark Knight Falls Short”

  1. Please enter your name here said

    And therefore record DVD, Blu Ray and Ultra Violet consumption for this film will follow. Nothing to dramatically phase consumption will occur, short of another oil shock. Ordering crap online is way too popular these days. What else is an iPad and iPhone good for. Innovation? HA!

    Metal detectors, X-Rays, frisking at the Cineplex…. Just like the airport ladies and gents — A full fledged police state we will become. Hell, its already here, folks. The legislation i.e, The Putz (Patriot) Act, NDAA, etc. are already in place. The Citizens (billionaires) are United and acting. Sweet!

  2. MT said

    I really enjoy how every discussion in community forums these days, whether it’s the arguments put forth by political campaigns, corporations to consumers, or simply teachers to students, is framed as a “PR problem” – as if these were simple messaging hiccups. What’s happened to honest discourse, or, at the very least our intellectual instinct to NOT dichotomize and stagnate every debate as if their SHOULD be two equally viable, legitimate and opposed viewpoints?

    Now in the case of this crazy Micky D’s clown lookalike, who shot up the premier of an otherwise very entertaining, if dark, fantasy film – I guess there’s need for a private discussion between THE FILMAKER AND PRODUCERS about how to promote their movie and detach it from the tragedy – but people affected by the shooting could give a dang about the impact at the box office. Who the hell cares what some two-bit PR shill has to say about how the public may or may not PERCEIVE the movie in lieu of such a sad incident? These idiots would argue any promotional strategy position they were told to, depending merely upon who signed their paychecks. Public relations is a practice devoid of any genuine sense of ethical professionalism, not to mention completely bereft of intellectual honesty, and we all know it. OK, OK, you can lie to yourself and claim that as long as the PR practitioner is representing a brand, or an idea that they “believe” in, then all will be good. Maybe this could be true if you’re a spokesperson for some innocuous charity like giving puppies to old farts at nursing homes. Maybe some PR people can sell themselves this garbage, but even charities are business-modeled into becoming bureaucratic social parasites under our current monetary system. So whatever helps ya sleep at night.

    There’s hardly a mainstream corporate media outlet out there that hasn’t been infested with the easily corruptible PR mindset. As a result, all meaningful discourse has been driven underground to the blogosphere, where sorting the conspirational claims from the rational thought is even more difficult but worthwhile. The pay-off is in finding those few voices that really parse messages carefully and have the wherewithal to change understandings when evidence overwhelms – not true of phony mainstream media journalism, where PR strategy strangles journalistic inquiry every time. Say what we will about trolling or the self-proclaimed Citizen Journalist, but for those who think mainstream media pros are about digging at the truth….. smirk.

    Thanks for letting me rant!

  3. Jeremy Leger said

    “The Dark Knight” shooting was a very tragic event. I am very glad to see that Crisitan Bale took the time to visit the wounded victims in the hospital and pay respects to the people that lost their lives. Not a lot of celebrities take the time out of their day to do that. It gives me hope for the human race when people with so much fame visit their fans and appreciate them. I think Cristian Bale would have gone to visit the patients even if it wasn’t because of a viral campaign on Facebook. In misfortunes such as this, it would almost be inhuman for a celebrity to ignore the victims. Another local example of a celebrity who gives time to his fans is Justin Bieber. When a fan of his living in Pueblo West who was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, people tweeted him and messaged him on Facebook to send her a message. Word spread and within days, the Biebs posted a video thanking her for supporting him and wished for her to get well. It is amazing that with the power of the internet, celebrities can interact with their fans so easily and in cases of tragic events can even respond to them personally.

  4. Joel Johnson said

    I think to go so far as to put all the names of those who passed on at the start of every movie and then pause for a moment of silence may be a little drastic. I don’t mean to sound cold but I don’t think that will help the situation with helping some people get through it, but instead remind them of the event and then cause old wounds to open up. I think it is hard to say whether or not Cristian Bale visited because of something that came off of Facebook or just to help his image or because he really is just a caring and nice guy. In my opinion I think him coming to visit was the right thing to do no matter if it was to get good publicity. Christian could have just said how tragic it was over an interview and never came down to Aurora to see the victims but he took time to come visit people and that is more then probably some stars would make for such an event. I think the media, no matter how “unbiased” they may be, will always put a spin on this sort of story to make him out to be either a good guy, or one who is just manipulative. It is just how I see the news it is my personal opinion.

  5. Morgan Hartfield said

    I think that with the movie theater shooting in a aurora is was a real tragedy.RonnTorossian agreed that the public has a short term memory and will move on from it and that this affect wont have an impact on people when they decide wheither or not to go see a movie.I disagree with his comment because i feel like now society knows someone is actually cabable of doing that with no hesitation people will think twice before they go to a premiere again and especially if it a crazy movie with killings involved in the previews.Yeah people have commited suicide in reality tv shows and continued producing reality tv but with this inncident it’s different no had a choice for if they wanted to lose their life that night while sitting in that theater.It wasn’t just one person killed it was 12 and 58 people injured,this is na event no one will EVER forget.When going to theaters and watching a movie people are going to be paranoid when they see someone get up to exit thinking something may happen.People will be on edge with this situation for a while.Christian Bale was a good person for going to visit the victims in the shooting and to say that he did it to protect his fame and fortune is a little exaggerated because James Holmes was not trying to portray batman he was trying to immitate the jocker which has absolutly nothing to do with his character.He did it i feel just being a good citizen and may have felt guilty that he was on of the characters in the movies,no one else went to visit the victims did they?

  6. Sera Aksoy said

    As we all do know, the shooting in Aurora had a great deal of media attention. We as Americans are very interested and concerned as to what is going on in our society, that is why media plays a great role for us as citizens. The day after the shooting I remember hearing about the shooting in so many different ways. It was broadcasted over almost any news station, found articles on the front of any paper, & talked amoungest my co-workers of the imformation we had gathered from the media. We want to be involved and connected, that is where media plays part and benefits us. The shooting in Aurora was a major event. With many injured and 12 left dead our attention came right to this story. With all of the media hype on this particular event Christian Bale chose to make an appearance at the hospital of the wounded. I personally am a fan of Christian Bale yet, I find it hard to declare his reasoning for making an appearance. Yes, it may have been just to brighten the day of these poor individuals or, it simply may have been for the media and fame. With celebrities you can truly never know there actual intentions.

  7. Maya Rugg said

    The Dark Knight had a great media effect on the Aurora gunman James Holmes. He had claimed that he was the “joker” from the earlier Batman movie. The term media effect means that the media has an influence on the audience. Therefore The Dark Knight had influenced James Holmes to go into the theater and begun shooting like the joker does in the previous Batman movie. This incident had great effect on the movies rating. They were a lot lower then they expected. I’m many people after hearing about the shooting questioned whether or not to go watch the movie in the theaters or wait for it to be released and watch it in the safety of their own home. The shooting also had great affect on another movie Gangster Squad. Coincidentally, Gangster Squad had a scene in the movie of a shooting in a theater. The movies trailer was not to be shown anymore and the release of the movie was pushed back to a different date. There is controversy on whether the movie shooting scene should be cut from the movie or not. With the release of the movie being pushed back I don’t think the scene should be cut since its a vital part of the movie. Either way the movie will still have some kind of link to the Aurora shooting but with the new release date it should ease the pain from the tragedy.

  8. Bilal Abdullah said

    I personally get slightly angry every time that I hear about Christian Bale going to Aurora after the shooting that transpired after the premiere of his movie, “The Dark Knight” and I believe that my reasoning is very valid. The reason why I always get mad whenever I read about him going to Aurora is because I do not think that it matters that he showed up. I do not really think that anybody cares whether or not he showed up to Aurora. People lost their lives in Aurora, in my opinion Christian Bale showing up is not going to help the situation. All it is going to do is make everybody even madder because people were killed during the premiere of his movie by a man that was pretending to be a villain in his movie. I think that the situation would have been a little better if maybe he did not show up to Aurora because it probably just made families mad at him.

  9. Kayleigh Brown said

    When the shootings at the movie theatre during the movie, Dark Night Rises, happened in Aurora, the tragedy was displayed throughout every type of technology possible. There wasn’t a type of media that one could view without seeing the devastating news. This event received an immense amount of media attention because of the great need citizens of the colorado communities had to receive news like this. Media plays such a huge role in the lives of Americans today and this is why I am led to believe Christian Bale visited the victims as a publicity stunt. Although I am not certain of this fact, I find it hard to believe that he still would’ve made the visit if he was told no one outside of the victims would ever know he visited. Even if Bale did visit because he wanted to make a difference and brighten the day of the victims of the shooting, I believe in the back of his head he also knew it would look good to the public eye and would also help his career if he made the visit.

  10. Jasmin French said

    This was on time but posted in the wrong spot.You said to remind you then copy and paste it here!

    The article I choose to read and analyze was called “Dark Knight falls short” I chose to read this article because the discussion of the tragic incident that took place in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado just months ago was something I feel I can relate to since it was so close to home and had such a huge impact on the entire community of Colorado. The incident is just as tragic now as the day it happened, after reading the article and analyzing the business, financial, and media aspect of the issue I see how the incident not only affected people but it also had a huge influence on the media and other motion pictures. I do believe that the shooting is something that will be tied to that movie forever, I felt like the adding an extra slide at the beginning of the movie to show respect for the lives lost that night was an amazing idea and I feel like it should be added on to the DVD released copy of the movie as well. As hard as this devastation hit the community of Colorado I don’t believe people all across the nation cared as much as we did and the producers and theaters not playing the movie would have just caused money lost to both parties, seeing as though there was already money lost from not airing the other motion picture Gangster Squad due to its utterly relatable content and similarities to the tragedy that had taken place in Aurora.

  11. Vanessa M. Torrez said

    It saddens my heart that an individual can do such a thing to innocent people. I had went to the premiere of this movie as well. Fortunately, it was in Pueblo, Colorado and not Aurora where the shooting had taken place. And when I got out of the movie showing, my mother was calling and calling my phone wondering if I was okay because all she heard was that there was a shooting at the Dark Knight Rises movie premiere but had no idea where it was at, she only knew it was in Colorado. As my family was very concerned about me, all I could think about were the families that had lost their loved ones on this tragic night. It’s crazy how such an innocent event such as going to see a movie at the theater can turn so tragic in the matter of minutes. I think it’s very touching to see that Christian Bale went to comfort the victims and the families that lost loved ones. I don’t believe he did it for money or publicity, it’s just the right thing to do and I think anyone in that situation would believe so as well. The first Dark Knight grossed over $1 billion worldwide (Turow 426), the batman movies are very popular and I feel as if this event will forever be a burden on The Dark Knight Rises and it’s very tragic to even watch without thinking of this tragedy now. I haven’t watched it since that night, and I’m sure the families and other people around the nation feel the same just because of the bad memories that comes along with it, even though it was a good movie.

    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  12. jarrod lacy said

    I think that this tragic event was handled the right way. Sounds a little harsh but it’s not the movies fault that the public has been targeted. Granted that the killer compared himself to an infamous killer in the movie, things happen like this a lot. Out of respect, it was great for the box office to put the movie on hold. The idea to stop the showing forever was a bit drastic. Honoring the victims in the beginning of the film is a great way to pay respect and show fans that they care for all the lives taken. It’s great to know that Christian bale took the time out to visit all the wounded patients in the hospitals. It lets them know that even though they are moving on with the selling of the movie, this event did not go unnoticed and people care about the unfortunate things that took place.

  13. McKenzie Dalton said

    Although this story is somewhat older, since the shooting didn’t even take place in 2014, there is a lot to be said about what should or shouldn’t have been done with the movie in regards to the Aurora shooting. In short though, I agree with this statement from the blog. “According to a report by Fox News, Daniel Keeney, President of DPK Public Relations and PR crisis expert, believes that the best response is to acknowledge and move forward.” There is really no reason that they should have been worried about the movie still playing after the shooting. I think they did the right thing acknowledging that something horrible did happen, but to cancel a very hyped film on the way for one theater would not be fair to all the fans. The fact that Christian Bale came to see the victims was a great way to handle the situation. In terms of PR and relating that to “Confessions of a Media Manipulator” Facebook was a really good way to spread Christians surprise visit. A lot of stories, as said in the power point, are taken from social media sites. It is a great way to spread the word.

  14. Anthony Fraser said

    All in all, I think that Warner Bros should show respect to those who passed away that day form that tragic event, but I think that people are blowing Christian Balles’ coming to visit patients, out of proportion. For one, this isn’t a time to focus on the movie’s fame, but rather give respect and honor to the ones who passed. I think that it was a great idea to bring the character from the Dark Knight up to visit patients. Like how Ryan Holiday book says, “people are just focused on making faking new reality. It is dangerous.” Also I think people are too tied up into what Public Relations officers say to the public. Yes, I know that, ““Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics,” but people really need to look at the bigger picture says, and not what the news says all of the time.

  15. Alyssa Steele said

    I am a part of the community that was directly impacted by the events that took place in this article. I witnessed first-hand how this changed the lives of those I am close to. That being said, I believe Daniel Keeney had the right idea: “The best response is to acknowledge and move forward.” I believe that Christian Bale’s visit was an excellent move, both from a PR and a personal standpoint. It allowed for people to trust that the film industry, or at least the cast of “The Dark Knight”, had genuine concern for the people involved in the tragedy. The same can be said for other events that occurred due to the shooting in Aurora. Warner Bros. pulling the “Gangster Squad” trailer allowed for people to trust in the fact that the company (Warner Bros.) is not something cold and calloused, but a company made of people who care about other people. And trust, according to, is the most important thing any company can have. In relating the events following the shooting to “Confessions of a Media Manipulator”, Facebook was probably the best way to share the story of Christian Bale’s visit, as millions of people could spread the story with just the click of a mouse.

  16. Christopher Graham said

    This event was very tragic and devastating not only for the families involved but also the whole country. Because of this tragedy Warner Brothers’ PR department had to do something. The stopping of the premier in other cities and not showing certain trailers for other movies because of certain scenes was a good move by Warner Brothers part. The definition of PR “is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics,” according to PRSA. In Warner Brothers case, they did something to build a relationship with the public trying to show people that they are a good company with good moral values. This stunt could just be a something to manipulate the public but I do not think so. Another thing that helped the situation was Christian Bale visiting the victims. That helped him and Warner Brothers.

  17. Rachel DiOrio said

    I think that it was a smart PR move for Christian Bale to visit the victims in the hospitals. Even though it may have been provoked through Facebook and other social media sites I still feel like that proved to people that he was a good person and he cared about what happened to the victims in Aurora.
    I do agree with the PR department making the decisions to move on from the tragedy and keep pushing forward with the movie. One of the definitions from of public relations was “Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.” I feel like PR for The Dark Knight did analyze and interpret public opinion on what happened in Aurora and they very respectfully moved past the issues and continued to promote the movie.
    I think that with the whole Aurora shooting thing that the media did sort of blow it up and make it a really big deal. I mean don’t get me wrong, it was terrible what happened, but I feel like a lot of people were scared to go see the movie for fear of copy cats that the media constantly mentioned. And we all bought into it. We ourselves “fed the media monster” like Ryan Holiday talked about in the slideshow presentation for “Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator”. By viewing or sharing stories we are feeding the monster and continuing to let media install fear in us all.

  18. Alec Herrera said

    Much of the PR implications of Warner Bros. and Bale himself depend on both intent and sincerity. It’s easy to be skeptical of media moves (especially after that “Trust Me, I’m Lying” slideshow) but here it’s undeniable that a move had to be made otherwise Warner Bros. would have been crushed under mounting public outcry.

    There isn’t anything extremely out of the ordinary as far as Warner’s approach to handling this situation, at least when outlined by PRSA. The company anticipated the public opinion would absolutely necessitate an action to quell incoming opinions. They counseled their management throughout all functions and across the globe to formulate the best course of action.Through extensive research and planning they were able to come up with a plan that they ultimately felt would provide them with beneficial relations through what is terrible tragedy. Nothing too fancy about how they went about it but their moves were clearly calculated and meticulously executed to best avoid what could have easily escalated into an extreme PR nightmare.

    Christian Bale’s move and the multiple movement from other media outlets are different however. As the “Trust Me, I’m Lying” slide show pointed out, news stories can and often do began in rather small seemingly humble places on the internet. But here the movements may have been able to motivate key cogs, invoking a multitude movements to ban the movie, change policies, etc. This large event set the course for many other smaller events to rise up through small beginnings, possibly affecting Warner or even Bale himself. Eventually though their attempts to push their own stories fell short for the most part with the company staying with their initial plan. As far as Bale’s possible PR motivations, that is entirely up to you as whether you believe in the sincerity of this actors actions.

  19. Charles Evans said

    The Dark Knight shooting at Aurora was a tragedy. I do believe Christian Bale did a smart thing by going to the hospital to visit one of the victims. I do not think he just did it as a public stunt but, rather to make people see that even someone as famous as me cares. But on the other hand I still felt as if they were still trying to promote the movie but do it in a way were it did not seem disrespectful to those in the shooting. But i do think that Warner Bros had a different thing in mind. To me i felt as if they were more worried about how this could affect there movie after this shooting. It states in PRSA “anticipate ,analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization” and I felt that Warner Bros was mainly worried about themselves and not the tragedy at hand. We Basically ‘Fed the monster” on the slideshow. We made it twice as worst by feeding into it so much, not saying that the shooting was not bad but rather ways things were being said and portrayed and made it seem as if its the fault of media. Their are just people who are sick and will explode at anything. I felt that visiting the victims really helped both parties. But the community was already affected and people since of security

  20. Sheldon Swartwood said

    In the traumatic incident of the Aurora shooting Warner Bros. had a lot on their plate to deal with the situation. I feel that everything they did like hold the box office receipts and canceling premiere events. These were good moves yet they were used to protect themselves in many ways. They wanted to make them selves look respectful and sorry for what happened, and make sure they didn’t lose money on the film. With the “Trust Me, I’m Lying” slideshow really shows that you can manipulate the media and get a story in the news. Just like how Christian Bale went to the hospitals went to visit the victims. It wasn’t just to look nice, but from the Facebook campaign that went viral for him to go see the patients. Warner new that this wouldn’t be something that would destroy the film so they just had to convince everyone they were right, just like the ice cream scenario in the “Thank You For Smoking” video.

  21. Lindsay Waters said

    I think Warner Bros. did a very good thing. Even though they were just covering their own tails, they made the public happy. They convinced us that they weren’t going to let this tragedy become the face of the Dark Knight. Just like in the Thank You For Smoking video, they convinced us. The media manipulated the scenario as well though. When the campaign called for Christian Bale to go visit the victims, he couldn’t really say no to that. If he refused then it would’ve given the company a bad name. So in many ways the media and Warner won.

  22. Desarae Cruz said

    The shooting in Aurora was a very tragic event; I think that Warner Bros. knew right away that it would affect their next movie at the box office. It was a smart move for Warner Bros. to do what they did cancelling events and holding off on releasing box office stats right away. This made them seem more sensitive to the shooting in the eye of the public, and Christian Bale visiting the people in the hospital helped to portray the company as compassionate to the victims. However, as seen in the “Trust Me, I’m Lying” slideshow, the media can be manipulated fairly easily so that Warner Bros. gets the image of themselves out there that they want. It is similar to the ice cream scenario in “Thank You for Smoking” in that Warner Bros. is trying to save their company image and convince us that they have compassion for the victims and sensitivity for the situation.

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