Ledger’s death equals higher Batman profits?

By Mark O’Neill

Keith Ledger as The JokerWith the untimely tragic death of Heath Ledger, movie industry watchers are predicting that the profits of the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight, will ultimately go through the roof.

The release of the new Batman posters, showing Ledger as the Joker, has the actor “gruesomely made-up” and there was a lot of positive buzz about his performance. However, news of Ledger’s death has prompted suggestions that anticipation of the movie “is likely to intensify with fans morbidly curious to watch Ledger’s posthumous final screen performance.”

Is it just little old sensitive me or is it highly distasteful to pay to watch a movie just because a recently-dead actor appears in it? I will be watching The Dark Knight as a fan, not someone who will gasp in wonder when Ledger appears on-screen as the Joker for the first time.

The death of Ledger has also got Warner Bros re-considering their marketing and promotion for the Batman movie.  Several news sources including AFP and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that Ledger may be removed altogether from the promotional posters to be replaced instead by Christian Bale.  The studio is concerned that leaving him on the posters will lead to accusations they are trying to cash in by exploiting Ledger’s demise.

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