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The Dork Knight Returns

Daniel Rodrigue
See, stuff like happens all the time at Valley View. But at NorthPark, not as often.

As we mentioned in yesterday's missive from NorthPark Center -- where, on Monday, all manner of chaos was brought about by a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Night -- Arlington prog-rocker Bobby Schmidt wound up taking home the golden film canister containing the trailer that sparked the stir. Though police cut short the alternate-reality game planned for the evening, the game was just beginning for Schmidt and friends.

The Joker’s goons presented Schmidt with the film reel said to contain the trailer and gave him “a mission from The Boss.” They instructed him to “share it with the world.” But how many people have the means of converting a reel of film into an online video? Schmidt and fellow Ravens End band member Eli Ellison spent Monday evening scrambling to fulfill The Joker’s mission. So, how'd they do? Jump for the results -- and a pleasant surprise, if you're OK with spoilers.

They went to a handful of theaters. No luck -- because, well, the more they explained their “mission,” the more theater managers suspected they were up to some shady shenanigans. They called several production companies and film transfer specialists, but no one wanted to convert the film without a release from Warner Bros.

“I started going hoarse from explaining the story,” Ellison tells Unfair Park. Finally, defeated, they gave up for the night. Desperate, they placed a call to Warner Bros. yesterday. And, says Ellison, “they told us to do what we were instructed at the event. And when I asked them how we were supposed to do it, they didn’t have an answer for me.”

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They decided on a new strategy. Be vague. They walked into an Arlington movie theater and asked for a manager. Holding out the golden canister and the Warner Bros. phone number scrawled across a sheet of paper, they asked if they could watch it. Within minutes, the film was rolling.

“After 24 hours we did it, mission accomplished,” Ellison says. “But they pulled a fast one on us. It’s freakin' crazy. It’s not the trailer. It’s a crazy edit with a bunch of secret messages from The Joker.”

Ellison snuck his MiniDV camera into the theater in his cargo pants. And voilà. They uploaded the video to You Tube and posted it on their MySpace page. And for those for whom this isn't enough, you're free to read Ellison’s own account of their “mission.” Oh, and the band's Web site usually gets, oh, maybe 50 visitors a day. Yesterday, it was closer to 1,000. --Daniel Rodrigue

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