The aim of this assignment is to combine both visualisation and narrative techniques we have developed throughout our studies of Digital Humanities to deliver a cohesive argument and a logical conclusion. We were first asked to split into groups between three or four participants. By doing this we could collectively explore a chosen dataset, visualising it for our analytical purposes and then choosing a form to present our findings in the most compelling fashion. And so, our work began. Our team met several times before conducting any in depth research to discuss what interested all four of us, later, deciding what type of dataset we could interrogate and analyse to expose a pattern that would prove to be convincing to an audience.
Through our preparation, we decided that the success of a movie in correlation with its box office receipts would be an interesting dataset to unravel, meaning, is the success of a movie dependant on ticket sales and so on. As we are all collectively very interested in high quality motion pictures, marketing and the film industry, this field permitted us to use skills we had developed last year in Digital Humanities when we studied transmedia campaigns. Therefore, we decided to further our research in a more humanitarian way by analysing the Batman movies as we were introduced to the renowned transmedia campaign for “The Dark Knight” in our studies last year. This realisation resulted in us developing a research topic which excited us, we decided to study the vast increase in box office ticket sales between the extremely popular Batman trilogy; “Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” to determine whether the release of the extensive, interactive and worldwide transmedia campaign “Why So Serious” for “The Dark Knight” impacted ticket sales and the movies popularity more than the other two films.
Before the release of “The Dark Knight” block buster, the Warner Bros. collaborated with 42 entertainment for an unforgettable international trans-media campaign. Transmedia is defined as a “technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats including, but not limited to, games, books, events, cinema and television.( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmedia_storytelling) “ The Dark Knight’s, “Why So Serious” campaign, is the epitome of transmedia as we know it today. “Why So Serious?” was a transmedia experience in over 75 countries that played across hundreds of web pages, interactive games, mobile phones, print, email, real world events, video and unique collectives.
In the months leading up to the release of “The Dark Knight”, an alternate reality game attracted more than 10 million unique players to real time Gotham City. A city where the Joker lurked in the shadows of his minions and left his mark on posters, billboards and dollar bills. Thus, building an army of followers all over the world. The Joker worked with his henchmen through online sources, creating tasks and planting hidden devices for them to find, an example of this was the Joker phone. This allowed his devotees to keep in constant contact with the world of Gotham City, the world of the Joker. Players flooded the streets dressed as their leader, here Gotham City began to spill out into the real world, blending two realities. The campaign built further excitement and anticipation for the release of “The Dark Knight” and on top of that built a worldwide community.
None the less, the renowned Transmedia campaign didn’t just revolve around the life and missions of the Joker, but allowed players to take sides. This was where Harvey Dent was introduced whose message of change reached 33 cities across the US. What’s fantastic about Harvey Dents introduction to the game is that it allowed people who were about to see the movie to have avid support for one of the two characters. The good guy? Or the bad guy? Thus, the transmedia project was deemed highly successful, in March 2008 the Los Angeles Times said it was “one of the most interactive movie-marketing campaigns ever hatched by Hollywood” and left a phenomenal 1.005 billion USD in box office receipts. http://www.42entertainment.com/work/whysoserious
After conducting extensive research into the applaudable campaign we continued to explore the other two movies and began to make comparisons between the three. We used The Box Office Mojo.com (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=darkknighttrilogy.htm) and The-Numbers.com (http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Batman#tab=summary) to aid in our research. Both websites provided us with compelling results that allowed our research into this dataset to take more shape. The-Numbers.com proved extremely helpful to our investigation here as it provided us with various graphs and figures that illustrated the popularity of each Batman movie.
You can see in the above graph that the popularity of each Batman movie is depicted using figures from daily box office receipts from the time each movie was released. That time being a period of one hundred days. Although we did not delve into every Batman movie made so far, this graph blatantly showed us the growing popularity in the trilogy we were researching (“Batman Begins, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”). Evidently, one can see in the above graph that “The Dark Knight” is the most popular of both the batman trilogy my team were interested in and also, the most popular Batman movie made to date.
The above graph is an even closer look at the domestic box office receipts for our movies of choice. One can clearly see that the 2005 “Batman Begins” had the lowest amount of box office receipts between the three. This fact could be due to a lower production budget (of 150 million), less publicity or even an audience being sceptic of a new Batman trilogy. Similarly, the second most popular of the three movies was the 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises”, which we found to be particularly compelling. One would assume that as the years go by the production capacity would increase, the movies budget would increase (which it did) and with a fan base established, the last movie of a trilogy would be the most popular because it’s audience craves the closure it needs from supporting it over time. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. You can see above that the red curve which is used to illustrate “The Dark Knight Rises” overall box office income still falls beneath the gross income of the second movie of the trio, “The Dark Knight” although it had a greater budget of 250 million dollars. Lastly, it’s now become abundantly clear to us that the second of the trilogy, “The Dark Knight” exceeds the others in popularity and overall sales of box office receipts. Although the 2008 movie release had a smaller budget of 185 million dollars, the-numbers.com depicts “The Dark Knight” to be the most profitable movies based on absolute profit on worldwide gross. You can see in the independent graphs below further proof of income for all three movies. Notice that the graphs follow the 2005 (Batman Begins), 2008 (The Dark Knight) and 2012 (The Dark Knight Rises) order and not the order of highest profitability. This proves interesting to us as it’s unusual to see a fall in income over a period, especially considering how universally popular “The Dark Knight” was.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
Although at this point all four of us are confident in the fact that “The Dark Knight” remained to be the most popular movie of the trilogy because of the incredible worldwide transmedia campaign having established more information such as the below figures.
We also decided that although the popularity of “The Dark Knight” was more than partly due to the renowned and successful transmedia campaign, it was also due to an underlying factor that wasn’t to do with publicity and advertising. The provoking performance from deceased actor Heath Ledger as the Joker kept fans of all genders and ages engaged in the trilogy, so much so as with the shock of his death before the debut of film sent fans and supporters of the trilogy spiralling, unable to accept the tragedy and understandably cause a dilemma to produce the whole movie. We then came to understand that because the trilogy was mourning the loss of arguably its best character, “The Dark Knight Rises” didn’t stand a chance at being as successful as the “The Dark Knight” which starred Heath Ledger. On top of that, the transmedia campaign had established a sort of army which avidly supported him as the Joker. Since then “The Dark Knight” remains the most popular of all Batman movies ever made. Fans were encouraged to see the film and pay one last tribute to one of this generation’s most talented actors. Tragically, Heath Ledger himself never got to see the finished product, his immersion into the role of the Joker was already building into the stuff of legend.