Was J.J. Abrams & Steven Spielberg's Box-Office Champ 'Super 8' Really Saved by Twitter?

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

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The media chatter about "Super 8" -- the nostalgic sci-fi thriller written and directed by J. J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg -- has been super … weird. We've gotten to the point at which we're not just content to discuss the artistic merit, entertainment value and box office of blockbusters. No, we now also have to busy ourselves picking apart their pre-release marketing strategies so as to intuit box office in advance (why wait to tally receipts when you can guesstimate them before the first ticket is even sold?).

'Super 8'
'Super 8'

Witness this pre-release post on New York Magazine's Vulture blog: "Is J.J. Abrams's Super 8 Headed for Box-Office Disappointment?" Vulture's Claude Brodesser-Akner wrote, "Abrams's 'Super 8' has traded on the mystique of special effects not experienced and monsters not revealed" -- echoing the sentiments of industry observers who thought the film's advertising campaign was too, well, vague. Then more pre-release meditation from Vulture's Kyle Buchanan: "How Much Will Super 8's Box Office Affect Original Movies? Less Than You'd Think." (The fear was that if "Super 8," with its original screenplay, tanked, it would just reinforce Hollywood's lazy inclination to make nothing other than "sequels and comic-book movies.")

And it wasn't just Vulture agonizing. Yesterday, in the wake of "Super 8" taking the No. 1 spot at the box office, The Week aggregated opinions across the spectrum in a post titled "Super 8's 'super' box-office win: 3 theories" and subtitled "Industry insiders thought that an overly secretive marketing campaign had doomed J.J. Abrams' sci-fi film. So how did it pull off a 'rock-solid' $38 million opening weekend?"

Well, I've got my own theory: It's a really good movie! Seriously, I give it two thumbs up (fully 100% of my thumbs). Of course, this being 2011, we have to work a social-media angle into the discussion -- thus reason No. 3 in The Week's round-up (which sums up a Wall Street Journal report): "Super 8 was saved by Twitter."

Sure, OK! I'll play that game! Which brings me to this week's charticle, which uses data collected and parsed, as always, by our editorial partner Trendrr, the social-media monitoring firm:

Super 8 hourly tweet volume
Recent hourly tweet volume for 'Super 8' and related terms

  • There definitely has been very strong buzz about "Super 8" on Twitter. Trendrr did a roll-up of 13 terms related to the movie (including "Super 8," "#super8," "#abrams" and "#spielberg"). Friday through Sunday, there was a total of 171,974 tweets using these terms -- with a peak of 63,518 tweets on Saturday .
  • Throughout the weekend there were 1,831 "Super 8"-related tweets per hour with a one-hour peak of 3,750 tweets on Friday night.
  • Estimated gender split of tweets about 'Super 8'
    Estimated gender split of tweets about 'Super 8'

  • Trendrr estimates that 61% of tweets about "Super 8" have come from guys, 39% from gals.
  • Right now, according to Twitter, one of the most retweeted tweets about "Super 8" is from @dannymasterson (the actor who played Hyde on "That '70s Show"): "Yoooooo. The flick #Super8 is sooo good. Go see ASAP. It's the new Goonies for generation hipster." I'd say that 's a pretty spot-on appraisal.
  • @AMCTheatres -- the official Twitter account of the AMC Theatres chain -- has also been scoring a ton of retweets of its retweets of fan takes on "Super 8" including: "Loved #Super8! Something between Close Encounters and E.T. Took me right back to my childhood. - @AlisonSparrow Tix: http://amcurl.com/uIu" and "#Super8 is a love-letter to classic Spielberg films, with a bit of Dazed & Confused tossed in. - @Titan4Ever2488 Tix: http://amcurl.com/uIu." Very smart, AMC Theatres. Very smart.
  • Sentiment analysis of tweets about 'Super 8'
    Sentiment analysis of tweets about 'Super 8'

  • Trendrr's sentiment analysis for "Super 8" on Twitter -- which uses natural language processing to parse the general "mood" of tweets about a given subject -- has been 62% positive, 18% negative and 20% neutral. Mind you, sentiment analysis is not a perfect science, but it's statistically meaningful when the differential between positive and negative is so huge. ("Neutral" covers opinion-free tweets like "I'm going to see 'Super 8' tonight.")
  • Another couple numbers that matter: "Super 8" currently has a Metacritic Metascore of 72 ("generally favorable reviews based on 40 critics") and a Metacritic User Score of 7.8 (out of 10).

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr.

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

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