In the summer of 1989, you couldn't get away from Batman even if you tried. Kevin Smith put it best:
That summer was huge. You couldn't turn around without seeing the Bat-Signal somewhere. People were cutting it into their fucking heads. It was just the summer of Batman and if you were a comic book fan it was pretty hot.
Contemporary estimates suggested that over $500 million worth of merchandise was sold for the first movie, with some suggesting the number was closer to $750 million - but then, there was a lot of bootleg merchandise available at the time. While merchandise had been a large part of the summer movie business since George Lucas made a fortune from Star Wars' ancillerary products, the blanketing of the Bat was something different: Starting, perhaps, as uncertainty on behalf of Warner Bros over whether the film itself would recoup costs, it became a genuine craze somewhere along the line - leading to all manner of random Batproduct on the market. Even before the movie opened, analysts knew something big was happening:
''Batman'' does not reach theaters until June 23, but market research surveys have shown an extraordinary awareness on the part of moviegoers for the last month. '' 'Batman' is the movie equivalent of 'Phantom of the Opera,' '' said Jack Brodsky, the president of marketing and distribution at Morgan Creek. ''It jumped onto the research charts in first place. That's like being No. 1 on the best-seller list your first week.''
Mr. Vogel thinks ''Batman'' could sell $300 million worth of merchandise. The comic-book character has been around for 50 years and the Caped Crusader appeals to adults as well as children. Although Warner Brothers has been secretive about the merchandising of the movie before it opens, Licensing Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Warner Communications Inc., has already mailed out thousands of catalogues hawking everything from Batman playing cards to a $499.95 jacket with the Batman logo ''studded with rhinestones.''
And, even if you weren't willing to pay $500 for a rhinestone jacket - or just had enough taste to not want a rhinestone jacket in the first place - there was still an embarrassment of Bat-riches available. For example, you could buy a bumper sticker allowing you to pretend that you were really Bruce Wayne:
Alternatively, if you really wanted, you could just buy the Batmobile itself. It even has "2 concealed rockets"!
Batman could also help with your leisure activities - you could play the arcade game or the pinball game...
... and, if you felt the need to spend your evening dancing instead of fighting crime, Prince was there to help you out with what may have been one of his last hurrahs before disappearing into self-pleasuring obscurity (Sorry, Prince fans. But you know that I'm right):
And then, you could unwind before sleep with the movie's second soundtrack release, the Danny Elfman score. Which, I have to admit, reminds me much more of the animated series now than the movie... But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Images from Batman Movie Online