The Dark Knight’s marketing team almost caused a riot at Comic-Con before the release of the film. Back in 2008, the Batman movie was an absolute cultural force and it’s not hard to see why. In addition to being the follow-up to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, there was a dynamite ARG (Augmented Reality Game) campaign around the film that worked fans into a frenzy. IGN published an oral history of the movie’s wild marketing effort and revealed that tossing 11,000 off a balcony might not be the best strategy for keeping everyone calm. “Why So Serious” swept across the fandom and Alex Lieu, Director for the game, VP of Game Design Michael Borys, and Producer Susan Bonds were a huge reason why. But, they were still figuring things out on the fly.
Lieu said that the team was instructed to make the movie the talk of the convention despite not showing any footage or having the cast there. So, Borys describes their effort to secure all those dollars and customize them.
“There were 11,000 [dollar bills]. That’s a crazy amount. And we sat at a table and we hand-cut all of this stuff. It was so blazing hot in our office,” Borys explained. “And we'd leave the doors open, and people would walk by, and it just looked like Scarface.”
Lieu expanded on the idea, “There was the scene with Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman, where he's throwing out money and everybody's rushing to get it. So the original idea was: We’ll go to the third-floor concourse, with 10 grand in Joker dollars, and we'll just start throwing out money. I was like, ‘This is gonna be awesome.’ And then Susan decided to let Comic-Con know that was the plan, and they were like, ‘…Are you kidding?’”
In the end, Bonds talked about the clever compromise they came up with.
“For Comic-Con, obviously safety was a concern when you’re, you know, throwing money off three levels. As fun as it might be, somebody might get hurt. So they said, ‘We actually have a whole banking system here, with change we provide to the vendors,’” she elaborated. So we gave them 10,000 one-dollar bills, and they worked it into all the different vendors’ change. So during the day, when you're buying a t-shirt or buying a soda, you get change — and you may not realize it till you look at it, but you're getting a Joker dollar. People had no idea. Where did this money come from? Where did I get it?”
The rest is part of the legend. Do you remember Why So Serious? Let us know down in the comments!