Movie Studios Trying to Understand Twitter 
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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Marketing firms have always looked at declines in weekly ticket sales to accurately pinpoint how fan buzz affects the film’s success.  Recently, this effect has been accelerated to tracking daily changes.  This has led to movie studios blaming on poor box office results of social networking services such as Twitter or Facebook.

According to their take, the ability for anyone to send quick movie reviews to all of their followers, often before even leaving the theaters, is something that can make or break a prospective blockbuster. This means that opening day audiences would have a very influential role.  If the majority of Friday openers tweet their dislike of a new release, the movie can bomb by Sunday evening.

This theory has been passed around studio water coolers over the past week since ticket sales of Bruno, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, dropped 40% between Friday and Saturday of its opening weekend.  Alternatively, Transformers 2, Ice Age 3, The Proposal, Public Enemies and The Hangover all increased slightly from Friday to Saturday.  

Different studios are trying different tactics to harness Twitter.  Sony has created Twitter pages for some of its latest films, such as District 9, The Ugly Truth and Julie & Julia.  Sony also tried experimenting by automatically reposting Twitter buzz about the Jack Black comedy Year One on a single Twitter account.  Unfortunately this tactic backfired after the majority of the buzz was decidedly negative .   

Some filmmakers are using Twitter to broadcast their progress on films to attract early buzz.  Jon Favreau , for instance, has been tweeting through the entire Iron Man 2 production.  Footage of Iron Man 2 will be shown at Comic-Con this weekend and undoubtedly Twitter will see a flurry of responses regarding the clip.

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