Social media has woven its tentacles into the fabric of our everyday lives. Twitter is one such service that drives word-of-mouth better than most. When it came to blockbuster movies in 2009, there were a handful of movies that drew viewers in because of the chatter on Twitter, according to a survey conducted by MovieTickets.com.
Despite the survey, however, it's not all candy and popcorn in the movie executive suite. The Twitter effect is making movie shot callers a bit nervous as the medium can work both in positive and negative ways.
The MovieTickets.com survey polled hundreds of Twitter-using ticket buyers over a two-month period, having them weigh in on Twitter’s effect on their desire to see a handful of 2009 releases. The unscientific survey offered arguably the first real quantifiable data on Twitter’s effect on movie-goers. The company qualified each person that took the survey as an active Twitter user, then asked them the following:
Did Twitter affect your desire to see any of the following films in the past year (check any and all that apply)?
Of the users that said Twitter did have an effect, the top 15 films in order of influence included:
1. New Moon (52%)
2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (23%)
3. This Is It (21%)
4. Paranormal Activity (20%)
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (19%)
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (19%)
8. Star Trek (17%)
9. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (14%)
10. Julie & Julia (12%)
11. District 9 (11%)
12. Angels & Demons (11%)
13. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (10%)
14. Watchmen (9%)
15. Bruno (7%)
Overall, this is an interesting way to see if Twitter made an impact on ticket sales. However, Twitter is still an untamed beast that executives are leery about.
In a story on Hollywood.com, Joel Cohen, the company's executive vice president and general manager, said that "we may be putting too much weight onto the Twitter Effect. But you can see Twitter's benefits as a communications tool that spreads the word about a film, and the negatives have yet to be proven."
Cohen is right. The power of Twitter as it relates to the movie industry is still unproven. Studios are concerned because Tweets spread in real time. If folks don't like a movie, their circle of friends will know about it immediately. While most movies will take the hit when it comes to the attacks made by professional reviewers, consumers often make purchase decisions based on the feedback of friends, family, and colleagues. The quicker negative opinions filter through the social web and through services like Twitter, the more potential there is to damage box office sales.