The Dark Knight Rises Viral: Operation Early Bird


It is official. The viral marketing campaign is starting to pick up some steam after a long and forgettable start. I was starting to think that that there wasn’t going to be any viral marketing for this movie. About this time in 2007, The Dark Knight was 7 months deep into their viral and there was a lot done. From Comic Con to cakes to Gotham Times, it kept everyone busy and hyped for a movie that really needed no hyping. In comparison, the viral has practically no presence. However the last two weeks have had some great developments for The Dark Knight Rises.

Let’s recap:

May 2011

The films official website goes live.

At first, when you enter the site, the page is completely black. The only thing there is a sound file that contains a chant of some kind being repeated over and over.

TDKR Chant

Someone (a nerd) took that auto and decoded it and after deciphering the sound spectrum found something hidden.

As you can see there is a Twitter Hashtag, #thefirerises. If you tweeted it, a pixel was uncovered on the official site. The pixel was actually the Twitter icon of the person who sent a tweet. Once #thefirerises got enough tweets, the hidden picture was revealed in the form of a photo mosaic: The first official picture of Bane. An clearer picture was released soon after.

As far as viral marking and ARGs go, that is all we got for seven months. There has been a teaser trailer and Hans Zimmerman asking to use your voice, but that’s about it. But last week it started back up again and hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come. Let’s go over Operation: Early Bird.

December 7, 2011 received a fake CIA memo. It was a bulletin about a “missing Russian nuclear official who specializes in fuel-cycle technology and reactor design” named Dr Leonid Pavel. There was no other (useful) information in the post.

Nerds figured out that the man in the photo was Alon Aboutboul, an actor who was cast back in May 2011 as a “mad scientist” in TDKR.

The same day also posted a document from the CIA. This one was a transcript of a conversation where Dr Pavel was referred to.

December 8, 2011

Another document was posted on the Twitter account @thefirerises.

In this, yet another, CIA documentation, the CIA is planning on retrieving Dr Pavel from the militia. They are calling it Operation Early Bird and it will commence at 1000 hours pacific time.

An internet search for Operation Early Bird lead to a website There was a countdown that will end at 10am PST on 12/9/11.

December 9, 2011

As the countdown on ran out, the site eventually switched to a map with green dots scattered around. Those green dots corresponded to cities that had an IMAX screen that were going to show an advance screening of the 6 minute prologue that will be in those same IMAX theaters the following weekend attached to Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Clicking on the city of choice got you tickets to said advance screening on 10/13/11 at 10pm

To get the tickets for the screening, you were sent to I really don’t think this site was prepared for the amount of traffic that it got hit with. While trying to secure my tickets I kept getting server errors and the pages kept timing out on me. Now, I didn’t think I ever saw or used this site before. But when I tried to register it said my email was already registered. So, I tried to login but it either wouldn’t accept my password (and I tried several)or gave me a server error message. It didn’t help that site was both incredibly slow and I was using an iPhone with poor 3G connection where I was currently at. I had two other people working on it for me in other location and they were having the same issues with the site. Long story short, three hours later after refreshing dozens of time for each page I was on, I was able to get my passes.

December 13, 2011

The TDKR prologue was screened in select cities and only on IMAX screens that play 70mm film prints. I assume these will then only be true IMAX theaters and not the IMAX Experiences that are shoved into AMCs. The prologue is the opening scene that introduces Bane, much like how the prologue for TDK introduced Joker. It was followed by a short montage of scenes not seen before.

I got there about an hour early and the line was already pretty long but we were by far not the last to show up. We were let into the theater about 10 ‘til. We were given the big lecture about video recording and the security has night vision goggles and anyone they catch will be escorted out.

The prologue started with Comm. Gordon giving a short speech/eulogy for Harvey Dent. I won’t lie, I got a little emotional. The next six minutes zipped by. It was action packed and intense. Christopher Nolan is known for using practical effects instead of CGI. With that in mind, it was amazing what he accomplished here. The only problem I had was you could not understand anything Bane said. You can hear him, just not understand him. It was a combination of background noise, his accent, and his mask voice. There is still plenty of time to fix that. I have to say though I didn’t leave the theater with the same trill and shiver that I did with the TDK prologue. I think it was that I was excited to see the Joker in that movie but not so much with Bane. Either way it was well worth my time.

The clips that flashed afterwards were fast but the ones I remember are:

–          Batman standing on the Bat-Pod holding a weird weapon

–          Bane walking out of a building (courthouse?)

–          Tumblers, Tumblers, Tumblers

–          Catwoman in full costume (not digging the mask) from the torso up (that’s all we need, right fellas?)

–          The Batwing chasing a car

–          Joseph Gordon-Levitt

–          Batman about to fight Bane

–          Selina Kyle in an orange jumpsuit and I believe in the back of a cop car.

-          Bane holding a half broken Batman mask and then dropping it on the ground

The Swag

T-Shirts, either Bane or Batman.


They gave us one each as we got in line right when we walked in. They said off the bat (no pun intended) that they won’t give us more than one shirt each and we get the shirt they gave us and will not trade them for a different one but maybe someone in line was willing to trade (ya, right). We got two Bane shirts. After about ten minutes in line, those same reps said they found someone who wanted a Bane shirt for a Batman one. I jumped out of line before anyone else could and made my trade. I have a Batman and my wife got a Bane.

 Keep checking this site for more updates on TDKR viral marketing as well as my experiences as I try my best to partake in each one.

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One Response to The Dark Knight Rises Viral: Operation Early Bird

  1. Tekyu says:


    Think they’ll do the pizza/cowl stuff again? I’m ready for them this time!

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