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Could Twitter Destroy Hollywood's Marketing Magic?

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

By Published on . 5

Did you see Michael Sragow's article "Twitter Effect rattles Hollywood" in the Baltimore Sun? Sragow's thesis is neatly laid out in the first paragraph: "Although word of mouth could always make or break a movie, it usually took days to affect the box office. But the rise of social networking tools such as Twitter might be narrowing that time frame to hours. And that has Hollywood on edge."

Harry Potterheads went way overboard in tweeting this summer; they're simply gratuitous in their tweetage!
Harry Potterheads went way overboard in tweeting this summer; they're simply gratuitous in their tweetage!
Now keep in mind that, as Sragow goes on to note, "Movietickets.com recently ran a home-page poll in which 88% of the voting sample said Twitter had no effect on them." Of course, that means that a little more than 1 in 10 polled moviegoers are using Twitter as something of a movie recommendation -- or non-recommendation -- engine; pretty remarkable when you consider how new and nichey Twitter still is. And that should have Hollywood on edge. Because what if real-time commenter culture -- Twittering and Facebook updating and etc. -- ends up almost instantaneously neutralizing the ability of a studio's multimillion-dollar marketing blitz to get moviegoers to keep going to see a crummy movie in the early days of release? Anyway, in keeping with this line of inquiry, this week's Trendrr Chart of the Week takes a look at the Twitter buzz surrounding the five top-grossing movies of the summer. A few observations:

  • Interestingly, the Twitter peaks correlate with where each movie stands in regard to gross.

  • That said, Harry Potterheads went way overboard in tweeting this summer; they're simply gratuitous in their tweetage! If you look at the peak day of tweeting about "Transformers" (137,985 tweets on Friday, June 26) it pales in comparison to tweeting about the boy wizard (391,805 tweets on Monday, July 6), but "Transformers" is right up there with "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in total worldwide earnings.

  • Mark my words: Some day soon somebody's going to get a Ph.D. in the statistical parsing of Twitter data streams -- high-concept stuff far beyond the purview of the humble Trendrr Chart of the Week. Because when you think about it, there are so many angles you can take in approaching the raw information contained in tweets. I'd like to see, for example, data modeling that dives deep into cloud maps of the words -- negative and positive -- most often juxtaposed with mentions of movies. Then studios would really know exactly what they're up against.


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Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr, a social- and digital-media tracking service. More background here. A basic Trendrr account is free; Trendrr Pro, which offers more robust tracking and reporting tools, comes in various paid flavors (get the details here).

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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