Starbucks’s Only Refused Customer (because caffeine for missile-wielding psychotic madmen is bad for everyone)

10Feb08

Still wondering about how the fate of The Dark Knight will be altered due to Heath Ledger’s demise? Not to worry, things are looking good.

First off, there were a lot of rumors circulating about problems that might present due to unfinished looping sessions—a process in which actors rerecord and perfect lines during post-production—with Heath. However, director Christopher Nolan seems confident that he already has what he needs despite the fact that movies usually require looping, especially for main characters like the Joker, and he makes a good argument as to why they’re better off not hiring a voice artist, as well:

“I can’t think of a movie where there were no looped lines whatsoever, but I can think of movies where a main character was not looped,” he says.

… On a big-budget franchise picture like The Dark Knight, he adds, looping would be the norm. “When you are doing a movie like Batman, as opposed to The Savages, you loop,” he explains. “You are a perfectionist because you have the money to do it and the studio gives you whatever you want. You go through 17 takes of Heath Ledger saying, ‘I’m the Joker,’ and if it isn’t just right, you loop it.”

… Warner could use a voice artist if needed—and there are rumors that the studio will do that. If so, the studio’s denials would be understandable: Warner wouldn’t want the public to be listening for variations in the voice when the movie is released. But the producer assures: “With a good voice artist, you would never know the difference.”

He’s right. If Warner did announce that they were going to hire a voice actor to replace or add on to some of Ledger’s lines, not only would everyone be trying to pick apart the lines—mistaking real ones for false ones and most likely not finding the fake ones anyway—while watching the movie for the first time, but some of the power of the film would be lost. Plus, people wouldn’t be enjoying one of Heath’s last performances (those behind The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the film Heath was working on when he died, have stated that due to the nature of the movie they’re going to try to make it work with what they have of Heath, so in that case TDK would not be Ledger’s final performance, although it would technically be his only complete last work), they’d just be disrespecting it.

Secondly, the studio is still trying to figure out what to do about some aspects of marketing, especially Joker-centered t-shirts and toys, some of which bear Heath’s “likeness”:

Dozens of licensing agreements have been in place for months, but another studio source says that relatively few involve Ledger’s image. Many Batman-associated products are aimed at children aged 5 to 9, so, this executive says, Warner was proceeding with a degree of caution even before Ledger’s demise because of the intensity of the Joker’s character in the film. For some products, the cartoon image of the Joker was already being used. And Ledger did photo shoots so that his likeness could be used on certain products such as T-shirts.

… “You don’t want people to think you’re exploiting his death,” the source explains. “But his character is part of the movie, and he was on board with wanting to do this with his character.” And if Warner doesn’t release the merchandise, “The pirates would come out of the woodwork, and then it’s completely out of control.”

Personally, I think they should go ahead with at least some of what they had planned in that department. I mean, if bootleg stuff did leak out, then that would turn into a mess of disrespect for Heath, while something officially released would say the complete opposite: that Warner is trying to make the most out of Heath’s performance as a final homage to the actor and man himself. I don’t know if the toy idea is even a good one, though. I mean, you don’t make action figures for the pre-teen age group based off of R-rated movie characters, do you? I know that TDK won’t be rated R, but still, this isn’t the corny Joker with acid-squirting flowers, slick green hair, a high-pitched voice, and a ridiculous outfit many of us are familiar with. Well, the outfit’s still preposterous, but that’s not the point. As my friend put it, “They really are going for the psycho hobo look, aren’t they?” This Joker is darker, grittier, scarier, raw, and ruthless. And his appearance isn’t exactly PG-rated.

Not very threatening.

… Slightly more threatening.

As for the rest of the marketing campaign, a source reports that the plan all along was to start with the Joker and then lead into the focus being on Harvey Dent aka Two-Face. Hey, works for me. I’ve been itching to see how they’re going to portray Two-Face. So basically the only bad thing I can see is that calls to fans’ cell phones, as associated with the viral campaign, may stop early. On the other hand, I recently read that fans received an alert some time after Ledger’s death signaling that the deadline for the campaign had been extended, implying that there would be more to come.

To read the full Slate article, clickie.

Heh, finally, after a nice blogger showed me how to take screen shots, I was having maybe a little too much fun taking pictures of clips from the TDK trailers and managed to snag this (among others):

Damnit, Batman! The Joker wants his low-fat grande mocha with extra whip NOW!

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