One thing even the most casual observer of Twitter quickly learns: TV rules Twitter. (Or to put that another way: The dominant form of "old media" rules one of the darlings of the new social media.) When a hit show is airing, particularly in the U.S. or the U.K., people will tweet about it, and quite probably propel it into Twitter's Trending Topics list.
Movies, on the other hand? As Liz Pullen, trend analyst at our editorial partner What the Trend notes, "Unless it's a blockbuster or has a good opening weekend, a new film just will not trend because masses of people are not viewing it all the same time."
Because of that, curiously, while TV tends to get discussed on Twitter in "real-time," movies tend to get tweeted in advance. In other words, when it comes to TV, Twitter is all about now, but for movies, Twitter lives in the future. It's a cinematic anticipation engine.
Pullen parsed the entire past year's worth of tweets about movies to figure out which coming releases have the most sustained Twitter buzz. Remarkably, the most passionate discussion tends to be about blockbusters that are pretty far from release. The Twittersphere seems more excited about 2012's slate of blockbusters than 2011's.
The Top 7 Most Discussed But Not Yet Released Movies on Twitter
- "The Hobbit" (likely release: 2012; currently in preproduction; filming begins next month in New Zealand)
- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (release set for 2012; Warner Bros. picked up the rights to do a remake in late 2010)
- "Superman: The Man of Steel" (likely release: 2012; Christopher Nolan is producing, Zack Snyder is directing)
- "Dark Knight Rises" (set to be released in 2012; in preproduction with Christopher Nolan directing)
- "Thor" (release date: May 6, 2011 in the U.S.; directed by Kenneth Branagh)
- "Fast Five" (aka "The Fast & The Furious 5"; release date: April 29, 2011 in the U.S.)
- "Captain America: The First Avenger" (release date: July 22, 2011 in the U.S.; Chris Evans plays the captain)
By the way, the "Edward Scissorhands" remake would be No. 3 on this list -- if an "Edward Scissorhands" remake was actually in the works. (Last year was the 20th anniversary of the release of the film, which put the Twittersphere into nostalgic overdrive, and then rumor-monger mode: The "fact" that Rob "Twilight" Pattinson had been signed to reprise Johnny Depp's role in a remake of the Tim Burton classic was endlessly retweeted. Only he wasn't, and there's no remake planned.) "Green Lantern" (release date: June 17, 2011, in the U.S.; Ryan Reynolds plays the Green Lantern) just missed making our Top 7.
As Pullen notes, "You can see some basic commonalities among the most discussed films: comic book/fantasy films, sequels, remakes and series reboots." And much of the discussion, she adds, "involves casting or directorial decisions that fans had strong feelings about."
On that note, I'd like to announce that Justin Bieber will replace Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins in "The Hobbit" -- that's a Twitter Fact (that I just made up).
P.S. Check out What the Trend's Year in Review page right here.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.