Movie magazine Empire has rated this summer's 20 biggest movies in its April issue, with industry experts predicting the box office takings of each. In a list which includes big-hitters such as The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and Men in Black 3, the new Dark Shadows feature film makes a respectable placing at number 12.
Predicting a $60 million opening weekend in the US, and a worldwide gross of $310 million, Empire's unnamed industry insider speculates that: "If this takes us to a Tim Burton world that's incredible, with Johnny Depp and vampires, could this be summer's big surprise?"
Warner Bros are keeping the promotional strategy for Dark Shadows under wraps for the time being, and despite the release date being less than 11 weeks away, the lack of a poster or teaser trailer has not gone unnoticed by fans and the media. All signs point to a short high-intensity campaign which, given the heavyweight competition of The Avengers only a week before Dark Shadows' May 11 debut, may be a wise approach.
Actress Helena Bonham Carter may have ruffled the feathers of Dark Shadows fans when she recently suggested that the film would be "impossible to sell", but there is some truth in her words. Compared to the relatively straightforward comic book heroes of The Avengers, Dark Shadows is a complex proposition to introduce to a new audience, and will require delicate marketing. With its large ensemble cast, each with their own involved storylines, it's possible to sell the Dark Shadows story as anything from outright horror, to a gothic fairy tale about a loner vampire, or even a creepy Wes Anderson movie about a dysfunctional family. Any of those approaches could potentially be viable or appropriate, yet each would attract a different demographic.
With its high-calibre cast and the loyal fandom of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, the stakes are high and the potential for Dark Shadows to connect with a mass audience is there. Marketing Dark Shadows has been a challenge that dates back to the show's original 1960s run, and the choices Warner Bros make in the coming weeks may prove very interesting indeed.