The Dark Knight Viral Campaign Joker Card Deck: A Serious Discussion

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Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
Hey Guys. I've been thinking this over a while and, you know, it probably would have been the conversation for 10 years ago, but here we are.

So, the general consensus has always been that the viral decks are/were "made for/by production for the movie then given away for the viral campaign. And the many decks that are out there were leftovers."

I'm gonna level with you, that sounds like the most contrived b.s. origin for the cards anyone could, and most likely did, come up with.

I honestly think they were made by a hired marketing group by WB themselves. The other items given away at the viral events were basic licensed promo items. The Batman mask was a plain Rubies mask with a Batman fist logo stamped inside. Also, name a studio that just GIVES away leftover movie props by the deck(s)?

Anyways, I'm not gonna just bring it up without any substance. I can give you 3 strikes against the viral decks.

First: There's a joker card discrepancy. Observe.

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That's a lovely card right there on the outside, huh? Odd looking jester facing right almost sitting snuggly on top of his own name "Joker."

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Well well well. There's the viral deck. That's odd. The "Joker" just drops like that? Well, that's kinda strange.

Second strike: What you may not know is I have 4 sealed viral decks. What you also may not know is I own a production made Joker deck's empty box. I obtained the box from with certificate and all that noise from a VERY reputable prop handler/seller/etc (dude looks like Tony Stark!). I can tell you that without a shadow of a doubt the box is NOT the same box as the viral boxes.

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Look, I know a coa means nothing without physical proof. But the guy & auction house, from my understanding, and limited research when I had social media, are very reputable.

Also, the box is unique on its own. It's unlike the viral deck as it doesn't have the notch cut out. From what I've looked into, there hasn't been a fan made replica that even looks like this box. I won't touch on the Joker Poker Kit or anything with copyright stamps.

Third strike... I can still get viral decks from a guy in Burbank who sells a LOT of WB promo items. He used to have almost every viral campaign item (masks, stickers, keychains, etc) at one point so I know they're legitimate. And he still has decks left. That's a lot of leftovers from the film, yeah?

My reason for starting this discussion is because, well, this is The RPF. This place is/was the high standard of message boards when it comes to props and replicas. We have members from around the world including some of those on the inside in the know. Let's discuss this topic. Who started the "leftover from/made by the same company that made the production" origin? What proof is there? Is it just internet hearsay? I mean, it's really contrived if you think about it. Company's hire promotional vendors, they don't give away props without a huge MTN Dew give away your soul entering these cap code contests. Right?

Discuss.
 

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_Lee_

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Good thread subject.

I bought 'sealed' deck a while ago, then opened them up. I started chatting to Haywire (Ryan) and he gave me lots of help and advice regarding these and other props, such as the 'burnt' money which isnt from the actual burning scene, but from the bank robbery vault. Many of these dollars are sold with this story but they were more than likely burnt after filming ended to boost value.

I'll wait for Ryan to chime in here, as he knows his stuff. I was actually thinking about buying a 'production used card' privately or from Prop Store but from what I can see, the prices being put about are ridiculous especially when they are exactly the same as cards I bought as a sealed deck for a fraction the price of 1! I would love to hear from Propstore and others on this subject aswell because I think it needs to be discussed.

Lee
 

_Lee_

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
To add, wouldn't they have WB stamped on them if they were just random giveaways. I'm sure the poker set ones are stamped.
 

Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
To add, wouldn't they have WB stamped on them if they were just random giveaways. I'm sure the poker set ones are stamped.
The poker ones are definitely stamped with copyright info. Anything that's sold at retail will have WB's standard copyright with the (s08) or whatever the last 2 digits are of the year the item was released.

With promotional material it's a mixed bag when it comes to that stuff. Some things, yeah, for sure will be copyrighted. But there's a lot that's made on the fly or just everyday bulk items with a hurried logo painted on. I've seen keychains, carabiners, and bottle openers with just a logo or game name printed on. Sometimes with that stuff the info will be on the big box they came in or on the baggies they're packaged in, but not on the item.

If I remember correctly the "Citizens for Batman" stickers and shirts didn't have any copyright makings. I could be wrong, but if I'm right that feeds into the marketing company not using them.

With that in mind remember the marketing campaign was trying to make you feel involved with the film. You guy Joker cards for being a detective and going to gps locations and your cards were stamped with said locations logo. It would lend to the realism of the campaign.

Also, touching back on the viral decks, I, too, haven't paid much for each one. Under $100 each. First one I got in 2010 or so. Been adding more over the years. Last I got was in 2019.
 
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_Lee_

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have just looked at my deck again and I have 2 variations of 1 card style. Hadn't noticed if before.

Is there a photograph of all the card variations that were used? Maybe Heaths deck in the photos was a prototype set? A hero set??

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Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
There are different versions of the same image, yes. I'm pretty sure that card having 2 versions in the same deck is consistent with the Poker set. I don't have mine in front of me right now, but if memory serves.

Also, here is an original piece of marketing from the I Believe in Gotham City stuff from the time.

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It has the different card Heath is holding, plus your card that is different from the one pinned on the fake Batman. So both are correct.

I believe there was a poster put out with all the cards on it, or a majority of them. I could be wrong.
 

_Lee_

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Are the viral decks all the same with regards to the cards? Ive noticed that there are a few cards at Propstore and private collections that are not in the viral decks, the 'Foiled' card being one.

So your theory is that they are the same as the poker set but without the stamp? Could it also be possible that some were made for the ending in Batman Begins (although only 1 was used) and more printed when TDK was in production, maybe from a different supplier? I know thats a long shot but you never know.
 

Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
I'm thinking in terms of if the cards in the viral decks are the same ones from the poker set then most likely they are approved designs for licensing purposes. Which would lead me to believe they aren't movie produced.

Also, the card at the end of Batman Begins is not the same card from The Dark Knight. It went thru a design change OR there are 2 versions of it. Most likely the former because TDK wasn't even planned when they made Batman Begins.
 

gregday

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's news to me that there's even a narrative that the viral decks were "leftover production material." I'd always assumed they were all created entirely for the purposes of the marketing campaign. And yeah... they aren't that rare. I've got 2 decks, one opened and one sealed. It's a bit disappointing that PropStore keeps selling individual cards for around $350, while claiming in the writeup that they were created for production and "ultimately given away in the viral marketing campaign"

I sure wish I could sell each of my opened deck cards for $350 each.
 

_Lee_

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
These decks still changed hands for $1000 around 2008 - 2009 or so I was told. Either way they are still a great piece to own.

One thing I'm concerned about is how long it will be before people start burning these cards and selling them as used in the bomb scene.
 

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Haywire

Sr Member
There are definitely some issues with the validity of a few props....from the 'burnt' dollars to the Joker deck.
First, the Joker deck. It is my understanding from talking to people that ran 42 Entertainment (they ran the viral campaign) that they were provided with Joker decks from WB to be used as to how they saw fit. There was never a plan to hand out sealed decks. Random cards were included with various 'prizes' that were found and in addition to that, at select showings around the world, cards were stamped and given to movie goers.

WB also ran promotional giveaways for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. For The Dark Knight, the gave away Joker Bozo masks. For The Dark Knight Rises they gave away Bane masks and a Broken Dark Knight cowl. I've had it confirmed that all of those masks were indeed made identically as extras for the promotion. I bring this up because I believe the same has happened with the Joker cards. The ONLY card that I have seen that differs is the one shown above in the Joker promo photo.

With all of this being said, it's my belief that the viral cards (aside from the 1 seen above) were replicated by WB in the same way as the masks and used for promotional purposes. The problem with this of course is that with these cards being identical, it gives many a chance to sell off viral cards as actual cards used on the set with really no discernable way to tell the difference which many have profited on.

Final notes, the recent stream of "Foiled" and other specifically named cards that have been offered on Propstore are a mystery to me. I had written them to get clarification about their origins, but sadly I wasn't given any information other than 'they came from a good source'. Other than that, I've never seen these cards anywhere. As for Joker cards coming with a COA, I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. Again, aside from the aforementioned Joker card with the spacing issue, there is zero way to tell the difference between any of the viral cards and ones used during production or on set as by all accounts they were provided by WB and made identically. I guess if someone wants to pay the extra 300 or so to have a COA to sleep easier at night they can do so. But again with the flood of cards out there, the wiser money would be spent on buying a sealed deck with the gold band. On one last note, I know some had suggested that the card that the joker is holding in that photo may have been manipulated after the photo, however, in 2 recent auctions, Propstore was able to produce that exact same card with a signature by Heath on it so that definitely that card did exist.
As for the burnt joker dollars...ha that's another story altogether.
 

Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
There are definitely some issues with the validity of a few props....from the 'burnt' dollars to the Joker deck.
First, the Joker deck. It is my understanding from talking to people that ran 42 Entertainment (they ran the viral campaign) that they were provided with Joker decks from WB to be used as to how they saw fit. There was never a plan to hand out sealed decks. Random cards were included with various 'prizes' that were found and in addition to that, at select showings around the world, cards were stamped and given to movie goers.

WB also ran promotional giveaways for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. For The Dark Knight, the gave away Joker Bozo masks. For The Dark Knight Rises they gave away Bane masks and a Broken Dark Knight cowl. I've had it confirmed that all of those masks were indeed made identically as extras for the promotion. I bring this up because I believe the same has happened with the Joker cards. The ONLY card that I have seen that differs is the one shown above in the Joker promo photo.

With all of this being said, it's my belief that the viral cards (aside from the 1 seen above) were replicated by WB in the same way as the masks and used for promotional purposes. The problem with this of course is that with these cards being identical, it gives many a chance to sell off viral cards as actual cards used on the set with really no discernable way to tell the difference which many have profited on.

Final notes, the recent stream of "Foiled" and other specifically named cards that have been offered on Propstore are a mystery to me. I had written them to get clarification about their origins, but sadly I wasn't given any information other than 'they came from a good source'. Other than that, I've never seen these cards anywhere. As for Joker cards coming with a COA, I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. Again, aside from the aforementioned Joker card with the spacing issue, there is zero way to tell the difference between any of the viral cards and ones used during production or on set as by all accounts they were provided by WB and made identically. I guess if someone wants to pay the extra 300 or so to have a COA to sleep easier at night they can do so. But again with the flood of cards out there, the wiser money would be spent on buying a sealed deck with the gold band. On one last note, I know some had suggested that the card that the joker is holding in that photo may have been manipulated after the photo, however, in 2 recent auctions, Propstore was able to produce that exact same card with a signature by Heath on it so that definitely that card did exist.
As for the burnt joker dollars...ha that's another story altogether.
There's one thing about what you said that's off. The clown masks given away for TDK were just plastic vacuum formed clown masks, not ones like the film. And the cowls they gave were the Rubies cowls.

As for TDKR, the production made Bane mask was thru the MTN Dew promotion. Not a viral campaign.
 

Haywire

Sr Member
There's one thing about what you said that's off. The clown masks given away for TDK were just plastic vacuum formed clown masks, not ones like the film. And the cowls they gave were the Rubies cowls.

As for TDKR, the production made Bane mask was thru the MTN Dew promotion. Not a viral campaign.
No sorry, let me clarify. There were Bozo masks given away by WB (not part of the viral campaign) and there were made by the studio. Same goes for the Bane mask and the Broken Cowl masks. I only use those as examples as they are evidence of WB using their own resources to create these give aways which by all indications seems to be what they did with the Viral Decks that they provided to 42E.
 

Nightwing Returns

Well-Known Member
No sorry, let me clarify. There were Bozo masks given away by WB (not part of the viral campaign) and there were made by the studio. Same goes for the Bane mask and the Broken Cowl masks. I only use those as examples as they are evidence of WB using their own resources to create these give aways which by all indications seems to be what they did with the Viral Decks that they provided to 42E.
I feel like it could go both ways, theoretically.

When movie studios do giveaways of props they usually have 1 main prize prop, then all other prizes are just licensed crap and t-shirts. Like, I understand your connection there, but it's not unusual for studios to give away props as the main prize. But it's unusual to give them away during a small viral game only few people take part in, you know? Especially when everything else given away during those events was licensed or made specially for the event.

The only time I've heard of a studio giving out props freely was the time they gave coins out at Walmart for one of the Pirates films. But they were made in abundance for scenes of treasure upon treasure.

You see the cards in TDK in, what, 3 scenes? Joker saying "here's my card," Judge Surillo flipping the card, card pinned on the fake Batman, and the explosion of Judge Surillo.

Why would they make SO many cards for those small scenes?

I don't think they did. I don't believe they're production made.
 

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Haywire

Sr Member
I feel like it could go both ways, theoretically.

When movie studios do giveaways of props they usually have 1 main prize prop, then all other prizes are just licensed crap and t-shirts. Like, I understand your connection there, but it's not unusual for studios to give away props as the main prize. But it's unusual to give them away during a small viral game only few people take part in, you know? Especially when everything else given away during those events was licensed or made specially for the event.

The only time I've heard of a studio giving out props freely was the time they gave coins out at Walmart for one of the Pirates films. But they were made in abundance for scenes of treasure upon treasure.

You see the cards in TDK in, what, 3 scenes? Joker saying "here's my card," Judge Surillo flipping the card, card pinned on the fake Batman, and the explosion of Judge Surillo.

Why would they make SO many cards for those small scenes?

I don't think they did. I don't believe they're production made.
I didn't say they were production made so maybe you misread what I wrote. Production made or screen used both mean that the items were made during the filming of the movie. However, after the movie has wrapped, molds for masks or what have you still exist and therefore identical items can be produced that one wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The only way you would know is if you knew the exact chain of hands that were doing the exchanging. There were 13 bozo masks made, a few Bane masks and a few Broken Cowl masks that were given away. Were they made during production or after is anyone's guess.
As for the joker cards, WB was involved with the viral promotion as they even had the actors shoot scenes specifically featured in the viral campaign that were not for use in the movie. With that being said, were the joker decks made during production or were extras from the daily shoots......my guess is no they were not.....however....the cards themselves (aside from the joker promo pic) are identical. If you check out propstore's coa cards (which claim to be from production) they are identical to the viral cards which tells me that the viral cards were made from the same WB source. Again, my feeling is that the viral cards were made after production but from the same team.
The only way one could really know if they had a card from production/screen used as opposed to a viral card is if you actually knew a person from the set OR had one of the cards that the Joker is holding in your photo (which I think went for thousands in the last propstore auction)
 

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