By Andy Khouri and Shaun Manning
The Joker was at it again Monday night, this time with events all over the planet promoting Warner Bros.' July release of The Dark Knight. It began with the discovery of a new Joker website, which updated with map coordinates of locations across the globe. Each clue came with an ominous countdown clock and the following instructions:
Gather with 300 of your closest friends at this exact spot on April 28th.
You'll need to be in contact with a partner-in-crime who has online access to relay your instructions once you're there. These instructions will give you the TRAIL to follow, but be sure to look both ways when crossing the street; we wouldn't want you to make an unscheduled visit to the ER now, would we?
Put on a smile and plan to spend about an hour or so bonding with your fellow clowns.
CBR received Monday afternoon a special invitation, complete with defaced playing card and a hideous Joker mask. Staff Writer Shaun Manning followed the clown’s trail in New York City, while News Editor Andy Khouri sleuthed around Los Angeles.
In New York, crowds of Jokers huddled under umbrellas in Bryant Park near Times Square shortly after 5 pm, waiting for the countdown to reach zero. Two fans had computers set up, watching to see what would happen.
The scene was similar at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles, where Joker fans both in and out of makeup gathered in the nearly 100-degree heat, mobile phones in-hand, waiting for the next clue. Unfortunately, mall security seemed unaware of what was going on, and soon those in Joker makeup were being run off by fascist rent-a-cops.
At 5:30pm (in both cities), the Joker’s site updated with instructions specific to fans’ locations, telling them to inspect certain aspects of their surroundings and take note the number of various things, as the goal was to collect a certain sequence of numbers so as to unlock a virtual safe on the website.
However, before the would-be leaders of New York’s Joker revolution found the first clue with their laptops, a large crowd rushed east toward Fifth Avenue, shouting, “Count the horses!” Or maybe it was “count the babies!” Surrounding a nearby carousel (covered in tarp), the throng quickly tallied both sets.
In LA, fans were gathered around a fountain to count its spouts before dashing backwards down a set of stairs to Hollywood Boulevard, where they were then told to look across the street at Disney’s ornate El Capitan cinema and count the human faces carved into the building, and then to count a number of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The clues had people running up and down the street, stumbling over each other like crabs baking in the intense California sun. Somehow, everybody on both coasts sorted it out and ran en masse through the streets in the middle of rush hour traffic. It was profoundly dangerous, but those who risked it first were assured a spot in line and a raffle ticket.
Once inside the theaters, the intense security raised expectations as to what it was that would be shown on screen. All cameras, recording devices, and cell phones were confiscated at the door, exchanged for a coat check stub.
This last bit of heightening the suspense, though, might have backfired for the promoters. When the screen read, “The following preview is rated PG-13,” the New York audience emitted a collective groan. It might not have been reasonable to expect that painting one's face in Joker paint, wearing a Harvey Dent campaign badge, and chasing around the city would lead to a private screening of “The Dark Knight” two months early, but there was that expectation by the end of it, at least in the minds of some revelers. In Los Angeles, however, the crowd cheered loudly as they were finally shown to their seats.
SPOILER WARNING IN FULL EFFECT
The two-and-a-half minute trailer began with new shots of a capeless Batman standing on the side of the building, and then jumping into night sky. The Joker was also seen meeting with the who’s who of Gotham’s criminal underground, saying, “A year ago these cops and lawyers wouldn’t dare cross any of you. What happened?”
“What are you proposing?” said a voice.
“It’s simple,” The Joker said. “Kill the Batman.”
The trailer mixed footage both new and old, focusing evenly on Heath Ledger’s Joker and Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, who we see introduced to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne. “Rachel’s told me everything about you!” Dent smiled.
“I hope not,” Wayne said.
Other notable quotes included:
“This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I’m going to give it to 'em.” - The Joker
“The night is always darkest just before dawn. I promise you, the dawn is coming.” - Harvey Dent
“I know now what I have to become to stop men like him.” - Bruce Wayne
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” - Harvey Dent.
“Here’s my card.” - The Joker.
Perhaps the most chilling shot of new footage was that of Dent with his face lying sideways on some kind of surface, looking forward and screaming, “NO!”
But easily the most riveting shot of the trailer depicted - in startlingly realistic fashion-- Batman himself, gliding very, very high above Gotham City.
Following the presentation, lucky fans in both (and presumably all participating cities) won the trailer film reel. In Los Angeles, those still waiting outside were shown in and treated to two screenings of the trailer, and several Joker masks like the one received by CBR News were raffled off to the Los Angeles audience as consolation prizes. The final mask was won, funnily enough, by a young fan aleady painted in Joker makeup.
For more pictures and other information from the events, check out recent posts on CBR Live.
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