Back in December we ran an article covering some of The Dark Knight's promotional activities, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I posted what I thought was an extremely witty and observant comment: "I'm just glad they're doing something to raise awareness of this small film that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks."

Admit it, that's probably the funniest joke you've ever read. Because The Dark Knight isn't a small film at all, you see! It's a huge film that already has a great deal of public awareness! See how that's super funny?

Anyway, though we all had a good laugh at how funny I am, I also brought up a puzzling aspect of the Hollywood machinery. Warner Bros. is spending untold millions to promote The Dark Knight, and expending a lot of creative effort, too, with viral sites and games and events and so forth -- and for what? To promote a film that everyone was already going to see anyway. It's a highly anticipated sequel to a hugely popular film, it's gotten terrific buzz from those who have seen it, and it has the unfortunate-but-attention-getting Heath Ledger connection. You'd think the WB promotional team could relax a bit and let the film sell itself -- or, better yet, use that money to promote some lower-profile films that do need the help. So why didn't they?

Bearing in mind that attempts to grasp the logic of a Hollywood studio usually end in frustration, we can generally trace the thought process back to one thing: money.