Friday, 17 September 2021

Batman: The Birth of the Modern Blockbuster



“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Ahead of DC FanDome this October, Warner Bros. has released a documentary examining the cultural impact and legacy of director Tim Burton's Batman to celebrate Batman Day this Saturday!



In the summer of 1989, Burton (Beetlejuice) was the subversive outsider who conquered Tinseltown and brought DC Comics' Batman, starring Michael Keaton as the titular dark detective and Jack Nicholson as archnemesis The Joker, to the masses in a postmodern ode to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and German expressionism.

Batman is a marketing masterclass, which took lessons from George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy, launching merchandise in-store months before the film was released in cinemas. From posters at Athena to Kenner action figures at Woolworths. This created a fever dream of hype invading the public's consciousness worldwide.

The movie's release coincided with an inaugural visit to the iconic HMV Oxford Street, London, seemingly the epicentre of 'Batmania' in the UK as Prince's tie-in album reverberated around the sadly defunct store on repeat.

However, I wanted Danny Elfman's original soundtrack much to the chagrin of a member of staff. Well, I was more geek than chic, and this was a time before The Big Bang Theory. On the long coach journey home, I listened to the cassette on a Sony Walkman.

Having been brought up on Saturday morning reruns of Adam West's sixties series, my initial reaction to Batman was mixed! However, one of my favourite undergraduate memories is attending a special 70mm print screening, with Nick Smith, at the Odeon Bournemouth (one of the locations used for our undergraduate production December Duet) in the mid-nineties.

Years later, I got to work with Garrick Hagon (Star Wars) on Dirk Maggs' audio movie, The Gemini Apes, for BBC Radio 4. During a break in recording, he recounted filming the opening scene of Batman. Yes, we also talked about all things Star Wars. Poor, Biggs!

What are your memories of Batman, and how do you plan to celebrate Batman Day? Let me know in the comments below.

2 comments:

  1. I had a blast attending that 70mm screening! HBOMax has crowded its Gotham goodies together for Batman Day so I'll be delving into those tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What fun we had! Enjoy all the Batman things on HBO Max!

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