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How Would You Market a Movie With a Dead Star?

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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PR/ER Ledger New Warner Brothers marketing czar Sue Kroll certainly has her hands full her first full month on the job. As the Wall Street Journal notes today, the studio's marketing strategy for The Dark Knight, the follow-up to 2005 hit Batman Begins, has thus far revolved around a darker-than-ever Joker, played by the recently deceased Heath Ledger. Ledger's death, however, leaves Warner Bros. with a rather icky decision to make: press on with the highly successful but Ledger-centric viral campaign, or shift the focus to Christian Bale's Batman character—a decidedly less compelling, far more drab option.

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Enter Kroll, who took over the studio's top marketing spot from former domestic marketing president Dawn Taubin on January 1. Taubin is actually the one who developed the Dark Knight campaign, but she ankled the studio after a falling out with recently promoted Warner Bros. president Jeff Rubinov. "It's a double whammy for Kroll," an executive at a rival studio tells Radar. "Not only does Warner Brothers not have a plan of attack yet, but the person in charge of heading it up isn't even the one who developed the campaign in the first place."

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