When you see the bat signal at the local bus stop, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there’s another Batman movie on the way.
It’s not certain if the 1989 Batman was the first to do it, but for the advance “teaser” campaign, all the poster had was the bat signal and the release date.
We see movies do this all the time now, and it was producer Jon Peters, long known for his insane ways in the entertainment biz, who came up with the idea.
As recalled in the book Hit and Run, which detailed the shenanigans of Peters and his then partner Peter Guber, Peters was going over the ad campaigns for Batman, and wasn’t satisfied. He called Anton Furst, Batman’s production designer to his office, and as Furst recalled, “One was sort of like Conan, or Robocop – the word ‘Batman’ spelled in Conan the Barbarian type. Nothing original, nothing you hadn’t seen before many times.”
Then Peters told Furst, “I want you to design the logo. Drop everything. Drop the set design.” Furst came up with the bat signal, and it’s exactly what Peters wanted. He then insisted the poster have just the logo and the release date, June 23, 1989, no title, no stars or credits.
“I wanted to do, like, foreplay,” Peters said in Hit and Run. “To create the magic and myth of it all. I didn’t want to give it all away.”
Before you knew it, the Batman advance poster with just the bat signal and release date were everywhere. Furst also recalled Peters telling him he had fights with the studio, literally pinning people to the wall, and anyone who knows Peters can confirm he was never above thuggery to get his way.
To be sure, Peters is often known for his ridiculously bad ideas, like his infamous demand that Superman fight a giant spider to Kevin Smith when he was writing the script for Superman Lives, and the giant arachnid later inexplicably showed up in Wild Wild West, per Peter’s dictate.
But indeed, Hit and Run confirmed that the Batman campaign was Peters’s ideas and he also insisted that the coming attraction have no music, which numerous films have emulated many times since.