Watch: Retro Industry Promo to Hype Tim Burton's 1989 'Batman'
by Ethan Anderton
June 23, 2014
In case you hadn't heard from the rest of the internet, today marks the exact 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation of the classic DC Comics superhero Batman. It's tough to remember a time when comic book superheroes weren't guaranteed box office champions, but when Warner Bros. decided to bring Batman to the big screen for the first time in over 20 years, they had some convincing to do. Not only was the mainstream public not all that interested in what was still believed to be a campy superhero, but the film industry itself needed to be sold on The Dark Knight's marketability and appeal to audiences. And that's why the following 20-minute promo for the film was put together. Watch!
Here's the 20-minute industry promo for Tim Burton's Batman (via The Playlist):
The above video was put together by Andrew Gillman, who tells the fan website 1989 Batman why a video like this was deemed necessary by the studio:
Warner Brothers had found themselves in a very difficult situation at the time. The marketing director at Warner told me that Adam West had been going to various media outlets stating that he should be Batman, that his Batman was the only true Batman, and that this dark thing that Warner was doing had nothing to do with Batman at all.
It seems crazy to think that there was a time that people didn't want a dark, gritty Batman heading to the big screen when those are the buzz words used to sell fans on certain adaptations nowadays. Gillman also said:
Since the longer lead time involved in both merchandise production and film distribution requires a gamble on how a film will look in its finished form, Warner needed to create something to reassure these investors that Tim Burton’s vision for movie was going to work, that this movie was going to be successful. They needed to show them that Adam West’s statements were inaccurate, and that the film would present a version of Batman truer to the comic than the campy, comedic TV show of the 60’s. The opening sequence of the preview film has very specific references to clue-in these investors that the film was returning to Batman’s true heritage, with the West TV show being addressed as merely a footnote in the overall history.
And the convincing seemed to work, along with the success of the film itself. Tim Burton's Batman is still the third highest grossing Batman film of all-time, and it opened the door to a bunch of other early 90s comic book properties like Dick Tracy and The Shadow to hit the big screen in the years following, though it was nothing following the boom caused by the success of X-Men in 2000. In retrospect, Burton's Batman is still goofy when compared to Christopher Nolan's latest trilogy, but it also seems to be the perfect bridge between the campy, silliness of Adam West's funny take on the hero, and the darker hero we've come to love.