It's All in a Name - Batman: The Dark Knight
by Alex Billington
April 17, 2008
A discussion that has emerged numerous times in the last few months questions the title of some of this summer's movies - specifically the title of The Dark Knight. One topic that my friends and I usually discuss every night is the ongoing debate over what's going to be the biggest box office earner this summer. I say The Dark Knight, my other friend says Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, another one says Wall-E. While that's a debate that can be saved for another day, a consensus that seems to have been reached amongst all of us is that The Dark Knight might struggle because the name isn't as recognizable as Indiana Jones. It needs something more - it needs to be called Batman: The Dark Knight. Why?
My friends have made a very convincing point that I think is worth mentioning for the sake of discussion. When considering overall box office revenue and potential earnings, one must consider every last person in the US that might see a movie. Thus you have to account for everyone who is not as knowledgeable as just about every last person who is probably reading this. Their point is that The Dark Knight doesn't have as much traction as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull right now (refer to The Moviegoer's Most Anticipated Summer 2008 Movie) because it's not instantly recognizable as a sequel nor even as a Batman movie. The character name - Batman - isn't in the title and therefore it has not built as much buzz as a sequel or film in that franchise.
This doesn't mean to say that The Dark Knight is a bad title. In fact, I love the title, and wouldn't suggest they change it. However, if Batman were added to the front of it, it might help the film's exposure just a bit more. Unfortunately I agree - and it's unfortunate because I hate the idea of changing a title just to expand the exposure of a movie to a wider audience. The reason why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull could edge out The Dark Knight in earnings is because it has the character's name, Indiana Jones, right smack there at the beginning of the title. People know and love Indiana Jones and instantly realize that it's another sequel in the series. People know and love Batman, but not everyone has instantly recognized The Dark Knight yet.
I'm sure in due time Warner Brothers will focus their marketing efforts on reminding the public that this is the sequel to Batman Begins (a title that did include Batman). However, the issue still remains and the question is still valid. Would the same movie perform any better or gain any additional traction if it were named Batman: The Dark Knight instead of just The Dark Knight? How important do you think having the name of a prominent character in the title really is? Obviously not all movies could be like Indiana Jones and throw the character's name in the title, which is why I like Christopher Nolan's creative choice to call it The Dark Knight anyway, but it's still a concern that needs to be considered as a prohibitive factor in the film's performance.
All of this is really for the sake of discussion. I'd love to open this discussion up beyond my friends. Chime in with your thoughts below and considerations on the performance of The Dark Knight based purely on its name. Will it perform better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this summer?