Saving ‘The Dark Knight’ from online pirates


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Building buzz for ‘The Dark Knight’ was easy. The tough part for Warner Bros. was keeping the film off the Internet before it was released in theaters.

Reporter Dawn Chmielewski takes you behind an unprecedented anti-piracy effort by Warner Bros. to keep the latest Batman film from being bootlegged, which the studio feared would have cut into box-office sales. As she notes, ‘The success of an anti-piracy campaign is measured in the number of hours it buys before the digital dam breaks.’ To that end, Warner Bros. employed a strategy that included staggered delivery of film reels, spot checks of theaters and even distribution of night-vision goggles to keep would-be film pirates at bay.


It seems to have worked. She writes:

Warner Bros. executives said the extra vigilance paid off, helping to prevent camcorded copies of the reported $180-million film from reaching Internet file-sharing sites for about 38 hours. Although that doesn’t sound like much progress, it was enough time to keep bootleg DVDs off the streets as the film racked up a record-breaking $158.4 million on opening weekend. The movie has now taken in more than $300 million.

Read the full story for more details about the effort and to learn how ‘The Hulk’ provided inspiration for the bootleg-fighting campaign.

-- Chris Gaither