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Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Movies, Musings, Tech

Is Twitter killing Hollywood Movies? A Response.

Today my friend, Dennis posted an article on his site The Beta News about how movie studio fat cats see twitter as detrimental to the movie industry. They are concerned that people are instantly coming out of a screening and tweeting their, often negative, opinions on the movie and this is acting as a catalyst for bad publicity. Where before you’d have to pick up a newspaper or a copy of Empire to read about the latest movies, now you have short, sharp opinions hand delivered to you in your Twitter feed. What used to happen in days or weeks is now happening in minutes. But is this actually bad for the movie industry? I don’t think so.

Here’s the quote that Dennis used in his article. It’s from former chief of Sony Pictures, Peter Gruber (Maybe he’s pissed about John McClane killing his two brothers):

“You look around the theatre and can see the glow, not on people’s faces from watching the movie, but on their chins – from the BlackBerrys and iPhones. They are immediately telling their friends whether it’s worth their time. And the answer to that, more often than not, seems to be no.”

First, let’s look at the difference between this insta-publicity and run of the mill movie reviews. When I read a movie review in a newspaper or magazine I actively try to take it with a small pinch of salt. Movies, as with any art form, are subjective. A movie I may absolutely love, may get a total pasting by a professional critic, or vice versa. I don’t take this same pinch of salt with opinions on Twitter. The people I follow are my friends. We share interests. Many of them, I know for a fact, have a near identical taste in movies to me so when they say a movie sucks or a movie is outstanding, I believe them. I didn’t see X-Men Origins: Wolverine at the cinema, in part because my Twitter friends had given it such a monumental kicking. Of course this pattern isn’t always true (I liked Transformers 2 where many of my Tweeps hated it) but it does tend to bear more fruit than heeding the opinions of press critics.

So if this holds true for the rest of the twitterverse then you can kind of see why these Hollywood hot-shots are starting to sweat. In this time of economic gloom the last thing they need is another reason for people not to go and see their latest release.

But I think this is the wrong view, a sort of glass-half-empty kind of view. I actually think that this could be a very good thing for modern cinema. Studios have been given an unfathomable resource from which to draw constructive criticism. They can see, in real terms, what the general public think of their movies, without waffle and without pretense. If that isn’t something that can guide studios toward making better movies I don’t know what is! Let’s not forget that good things get posted too, Mr. Gruber. Look at the trending topic #district9 for example. Christ, Twitter loves that movie! Let us not also overlook that in the period approaching the release date, assuming you’ve marketed the thing right, Twitter will be awash with eager anticipation (see Avatar).

If anyone should be sweating, and brushing up their CVs it should be the media critics. Twitter is having enough of an impact to get Hollywood execs fidgeting in their chairs which is more than can be said for even the most highly thought of film critics, these days. I mean, who are you going to trust more; your circle of friends or some pretentious sandal wearing hippy with a masters in journalism and a penchant for foreign period dramas that anyone except for James William Bottomtooth would find insufferable?

Come on, Hollywood. Embrace this gift that has been given to you, don’t be frightened of it. Let it be your muse, your taskmaster, your key to getting butts in seats and dollars in your pockets.

14 comments

  1. Dennis Bjørn Petersen - August 24, 2009 1:28 pm

    Very well said!

    If Hollywood doesn’t take advantage of this, they might as well just close a few movie companies.

    Quentin Tarantino is trying to use Twitter to advertise Inglorious Basterds, perhaps they can get some inspiration from him.

  2. Stu - August 24, 2009 1:32 pm

    I think the chances are that if your film is getting almost entirely bad reviews on Twitter then it’s probably a bad film.

    My answer would simply be this: Make better films!

  3. kym - August 24, 2009 1:33 pm

    Great idea for a post dude, an enjoyable read :)

    “If that isn’t something that can guide studios toward making better movies I don’t know what is!”

    -that is exactly what I thought as I started reading this post. They should rise to the challenge rather than be pessimistic about it, Twitter isn’t going to disappear so they need to stay on top form.

  4. Adam - August 24, 2009 1:47 pm

    Good post for a change, you should really start writing more than just emofit dribble… oh wait thats me 😛

    No, some good points though, I just saw you rated Angels and Demons at ** I thought you enjoyed that?

    And lol at bottomtooth hahahaa pro!

    On a more serious note, they can only learn by their mistakes.. Its abit later after the release to be bothering with peoples reviews, where as some critics will get a preview way prior to release.

    One thing, I remember going to watch Dog Soldiers, and the review, cinema description was absolutely pathetic, yet it was what I thought a fantastic movie, with some real funny parts… Reviews are just one persons thought of a movie and like you say should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Example, what I read about Juno I was not going to watch it, you told me its pro, watch it, and guess woot? It’s pro :)

  5. Sam Hardacre - August 24, 2009 1:49 pm

    Very well said indeed!

    I think I’m of the same mind in almost every respect. I only differ slightly in that I will read other people’s opinions but don’t really let them sway me, unless it’s a film I’m not considering going to see. As you said, movies are subjective and I like to make up my own opinions about the films I see.

    Personally, the factor of theatre prices weighs heavier than reviews, opinions etc when I’m deciding to go to see a movie. My local cinema charges £15 for 2 tickets, add £5+ for snacks and that’s the price of an evening in the local spent. In the current climate, I’ve got to really want to see a film bad enough to hit the cinema. I’ve not got a bad size telly so more often than not, I’m happy to wait a couple of months to rent or buy.

  6. Dan Schonhaar - August 24, 2009 2:07 pm

    Thanks for all the nice words people! :)

    @Sam – I suppose we differ in that respect. I love the cinema and although I moan, I don’t mind paying the prices because I enjoy the whole experience so much. The smells, the sound, the communal atmosphere of a packed theatre.

  7. Stu - August 24, 2009 2:17 pm

    @Dan You enjoy the annoying chavs with their 8 year old kids kicking the back of your seat and constantly talking while their chav parents are busy inspecting the back of each others throats?

    Give me a popcorn machine, a projector, and some awesome speakers and I’ll never go to the cinema again.

  8. Dan Schonhaar - August 24, 2009 2:28 pm

    To be honest, Stu, I’ve only ever had a scant handfull of bad experiences such as that. I tend to avoid movies that will be chav-magnets and I don’t sit right at the back of the theatre where plankton you described tend to congregate. I like to sit middle of house for the best view and best sound. Chavs being chavs don’t get that and tend to sit at the back, well out of earshot and unable to make contact with my chair.

  9. Adam - August 24, 2009 2:39 pm

    @Stu Sod the projector, geif a decent 42″ WS HD TV Any day instead!

    @Sam I find the cinema more often than not blurry and uncomfy, I’ve downloaded movies that appear to be better quality than I’ve had at some cinema’s, out of focus blurry reel cinema should be removed for good, seriously America’s had DVD Decent Projectors since pft, I was 15? Why dont we have high quality cinema? Because we’re british and old fashioned aparently and those movie lines and slight blurr are all part of the *Cinema Experience*, not for me thanks!

    Big Screen TV’s and Cheap projectors are killing cinema! They should give Sky / Virgin the option to release heavily encoded broadcasts on a pay per view basis of the latest movies at the cinema for the cost of 1 or even 2 tickets, I think then Hollywood would see some real returns in money.

    IMO The only thing doing Cinema any favours ATM is Orange with Orange Wednesday!

  10. Dan Schonhaar - August 24, 2009 2:49 pm

    @Adam – You make a great point. Cinema should have been all HD long ago. I bet the reason they aren’t is because of how much it would cost and how much they’d have to pass on to customers who are already paying hand over fist to go to the movies. Your Sky/Virgin idea is a pretty good one. I can actually see movie studios doing this if box office figures continue to fall.

  11. Adam - August 24, 2009 3:00 pm

    @Dan, with VIVO and HDD Recorders and DVD Recorders they’d have to have some clever form of encryption, unless they up the price more and give you rights to make a backup of the movie and use it as per a DVD License, but of course that’s a little too soon.

    I think they should atleast release DVD Movies far quicker than what they do now.

    And the cost you say dan? Come off it, it does not cost that much to replace the cinema equipment, look at the storage space they’d save!

    And how much we pay for the cinema now… Well that’s enough to pay for the war on terror…

    Take Mansfield Odeon for example, that was built way after decent digital alternatives were out, and look, they went for the cheapest option.

    For how much we pay for the cinema and the *essentials* such as food and drink, we really should be getting more for our money.

  12. Dan Schonhaar - August 24, 2009 3:14 pm

    @Adam – Are you kidding!? Cinema grade HD projectors would cost many many tens of thousands of pounds each. To re-fit an entire cinema you’ll end up pushing half a million quid once labour and support is paid for. Double that for a big cinema with 20 screens, say.

  13. Magua - August 24, 2009 8:18 pm

    I’m glad, in one respect only, that not all cinemas have brand spanking top of the range HD screenings and that reason is cost.
    Each cinema i’ve seen that has ‘upgraded’ throughout my adult life – Showcase, Odeon, funky Cornerhouse one in Nottingham; Has infact always introduced new prices. The food has gone up, the drinks have gone up, and most importantly the ticket price has increased too.
    Albeit from a business viewpoint it is required to rake back those costs for the refurbishment in the first place, but i cannot afford to pay £20 to see a film at the cinema.
    Ok, i can afford it, but then being in the situation i find myself [Of no fault of my own], i’d have to drop something else just to work it into my monthly budget. £7-8 average ticket, £4 box of popcorn and taking my own drinks to save a little still comes out too much for what i want.
    I want a screen, some loud speakers, dark room and the movie i paid to see. I don’t want to be paying for those extra-comfy-obese-persons-extra-wide-girth seats, or the extensive amount of spotlights down the sides of the steps that change colour. As long as it doesn’t collapse and the place burn down, i’m fine with that.

    Savoy in nottingham is £4.50 for non-student and £3.50 for students as their regular price. They show up-to-date movies, and they are of good quality. The seats act like seats, the floor i walk on acts like a floor, the steps i go down still act like steps except i’m paying £10 for a night out instead of £20.
    I think a major issue with the industry of entertainment is that everyone expects flashy, gold plated, cribs-like environments as standard. They aren’t.

  14. Dan Schonhaar - August 25, 2009 8:34 am

    Good call.

    Personally I will only go to the movies on full price nights under the following circumstances:

    1. It’s a movie I’ve wanted to see for ages or have a particular affinity with. (Watchmen was a recent one of these, Iron Man II will be another.)

    2. I’ll only be paying for my own ticket, for example if I go with a group of friends rather than going with my girlfriend. This way there is no price difference between full price and Orange Wednesdays.

    3. If someone else is paying.

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