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Marketing and Twitter (this entire thing stolen from The Hot Blog)

Marketing and Twitter (this entire thing stolen from The Hot Blog) – August 24, 2009 2:51 PM (edited 8/24/09 10:51 AM)
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If you're curious on what/how marketing movies works, read below. It also directly references how District 9 opened big.

More on Twitter

The discussion that started on "Unbelievable" led to something that I think is worthy of having its own entry...

Movie marketing frontloading happened BEFORE all these social networks. Coincidence or Fate, that is what happened.

As it turns out, that frontloading has devalued word of mouth as a driver, positive or negative, for all but maybe 5% of studio releases. So then all these easier ways in which word of mouth is generated - but keep in mind, they are all simpler and less informational than any conversation of more than 20 seconds - but they are fighting an uphill battle to impact the marketing machine.

People who "troll the Internet for blogs & reviews a la 5 years ago" are not people for whom word of mouth means a lot. They are already committed, in or out.

The impact that can matter is broader than the core group. And that core is still the group using Twitter to buzz.

But let's not overlook the issue of how much info Twitter conveys. Twitter is pretty close to a "thumbs up, thumbs down" level interaction on movies. People naturally need more than that to change a view on whether or not they are going to the movie... because we are not talking about setting the agenda, we are talking about CHANGING agendas after opening Friday.

The idea that "most folks get these messages instantly and from mobile devices" is not true. Some small percent of folks get messages from Twitter. Estimates suggest that it’s less than 10% of the population old enough to use the technology. But more important that the specific size of the group is that, again, we are talking about the core, over and over and over again. Teens, who may not be the core, are going to the movies that weekend anyway... to go... and each weekend, there are limited options that appeal to that niche.

We live under this ongoing illusion about the significance of what is significant to us, as individuals. But movie marketing is about finding a specific slice of the very big world... not just us.

It's still the same issue as AICN. People who read that site every day are seriously committed to genre. And Harry's opinion or buzz from the anonymous just doesn't change the outcome much, if you look at the history.

Same with Comic-Con.

Same with Roger Ebert.

Same with the trades.

Same with MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Your 500 closest friends, who really trust your opinion, mean $5000 at the box office, max. Now imagine 100,000 similar pods looking to be influenced... which is $50m at the box office.

Can "The Twitter Effect" move $2 million at the box office in the theatrical run of a film? That's 200,000 tickets/people making a decision based on Twitter responses. Dubious. If that was a realistic proposition, it would be a big enough niche to be demand attention. But not a game changer.

But according to the Ad Age chart - which I don't completely trust - there has been only one movie with more than 120,000 tweets in a day, with no info about how many people created those tweets. If every one of those tweets had the same positive or negative tone and every one of them influenced 2 ticket buyers to buy or not to buy a ticket for the movie the next day, that's about $2.4 million in ticket sales in play.

If you took ALL of that to be realistic - which it isn't - how much of an effect is that over a 3-day weekend for a movie that has a $10m-plus opening Friday? 6% - 7%.

Now... again... I don't even think THAT is real. But even if it was, would it call for anything close to "Will Twitter make Hollywood marketing irrelevant?"

Of course not.

People forget the scale of things. Mass marketing, which is what wide movie openings are, is more powerful than we like to think. As may people as Twitter reaches, the phone still reaches a lot more. And movies have been dealing with the phone for 50 years.

On a mass level, the wave of tone is the only thing more powerful than tens of millions in marketing. Is the vast majority of the media and tweets on Twitter, etc, saying pretty much the same thing? If so, then there can be a very real media effect. But when that happens, 9 out of 10 times, it is the studio publicizing and marketing the movie that makes that happen… allowing us all to think its some sort of organic event. Ha!

We in the media are particularly susceptible to the idea that results are a reflection of what we think. People went or didn’t go to the movie on opening weekend because of whether the movie is good or bad. NO!!!! Box office results tell us whether a movie is liked or disliked. NO!!!! Box office reflects whether a movie is good or bad. NO!!!!

The truth, in 95% of wide releases, is as shallow as, “He’s just not that into you” or “He is just that into you.”

If you are still on the fence, waiting for someone’s opinion to make you buy or not buy a ticket, the marketing has not done the job it set out to do.

Saturday drops have been on the increase, year by year, because of front-loading, not because of Twitter or social networking or texting. But that doesn‘t satisfy our natural need to feel in control of things.

District 9 didn’t open because of Comic-Con. It opened because of months of very expensive marketing by Sony, including a longer-than-normal outdoor campaign, multiple trailers (for humans and for aliens), etc.

Now… Comic-Con may reach the core of that film and 10% of that 30% of opening weekend may have been pushed forward by what happened at Comic-Con. (This is an estimate that about $10m of the $37.4m opening box office was represented by people touched firmly by Comic-Con, meaning over 1 million people, meaning multiples of every attendee at the event. It then assumes that 90% of those people were already sold on the film before Comic-Con, which was 3 weeks before opening. Fair?) Yes. That’s $1.1 million at the box office on opening and presumably leads to about $3 million in total domestic theatrical. That’s not nothing. But it is not “Comic-Con made District 9” either.

Sony is perfectly happy with you thinking that Comic-Con mattered in a big way. And my estimated $3 million increase more than pays for their trip to San Diego… not by a lot… but by enough.

It’s not being anti-geek or anti-Twitter… it’s math.

As a group, do all kinds of things matter? Yes. Within our smaller circles of influence (even if that includes millions), do we matter? Yes. But a big opening is very much a blanket with quilted pieces on the edges. We are the quilt. Twitter is the quilt. The trailer and TV spots that connect on a gut level with ten million potential ticket buyers... or pushes them away? That's the blanket.

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