‘Dark Knight’ Promo Goes Awry

NEW YORK A Dark Knight promotion, featuring a chocolate cake wired to look like an explosive device, prompted a San Antonio news station to call in the bomb squad earlier this week.

Echoing the Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare in Boston in February 2007, the low-budget guerilla campaign delivered some unintended results for the Santikos Theater chain.

“Causing that kind of disturbance with the bomb squad and police officers was never our intention,” said Meghan Vincent, a rep for the eight-theater chain in Texas. “This was not exactly the kind of press we were going for.”

KENS 5 TV called the San Antonio police after a menacing cake wired with a cell phone was delivered to its offices.

The cake was the culmination of three-week buzz-building campaign aimed at the local media. It began on June 26, when a classified ad (presumably penned by Batman’s arch-enemy, the Joker) was placed in local papers recruiting clowns. The ad directed interested parties to whysoserious@santikos.com. The roughly two-dozen people who sent e-mails to the address were prompted to attend The Dark Knight premiere last night. A press release alerted the local media of the campaign.

It was followed up by a faux news report, created in conjunction with a local Fox affiliate, about graffiti artists tagging the local theater with the Batman symbol. It was aired on local networks and a clip was sent to San Antonio newsrooms with a release that posed the question, “What will the clowns do next?” The NBA San Antonio Spurs’ coyote mascot was then kidnapped while trying to remove the graffiti, according to another bogus new spot.

The finale, quite literally, took the cake. Inside the cake was the ransom note that read: “If you want to see coyote again be at the Palladium [theater] at 8 p.m.” A phone number was written on the cake box. When dialed, the phone inside rang, revealing press badges to the premiere.

San Antonio Fire Department Lieutenant Joe Rios told competing station KSAT 12 that “the intent was not to cause harm. [The promotion] just went bad on them.”

“I apologized profusely [to KENS 5 TV],” said Vincent.

Vincent said Warner Bros. had nothing to do with the effort. The team was just copying similar efforts the studio had used in the fall to promote the film, she said.

The Dark Knight, which has received plenty of ancillary press due to co-star Heath Ledger’s drug overdose death, is widely expected to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters.

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