Hit or Miss - Box office smash The Dark Knight praised for 'careful' use of dead star in its publicity

The bat is back.

The latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, had its London premiere this week. However, the media have been slavishly following the film's buzz since star Heath Ledger's fatal accidental overdose in February. Studio Warner Brothers is behind the current PR and marketing blitz, shrewdly featuring Ledger's character 'The Joker' on posters and giving him his own 'newspaper'.

Andy Nash, Head of media, Launch Group

As Morrissey once said (about a record company meeting) 'on their hands at last a dead star'. It is not too hard to imagine the conversation at the publicity meeting for The Dark Knight. There was never any real question that the Heath Ledger story wasn't going to dominate the film's buzz. Hollywood invented, or at least spawned, this kind of PR.

From James Dean and Judy Garland via River Phoenix, the die has been firmly cast. With The Dark Knight, however, at last a truly novel twist.

The great 'posthumous Oscar debate' has created a priceless media issue. As to the rest of the campaign, results of the seemingly risky decision to front Ledger in the marketing are showing in the box office figures.

A hit? How could it miss!


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