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Topic: Instant messages and movie box office, How new tech makes/breaks movies< Next Oldest | Next Newest >

CarolKoster Offline

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Posted: Aug. 23, 2003 8:31 am/pm Quote

Article reprinted in this morning's New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper from the Los Angeles Times is about how instant messaging on cellular phones plus Internet chat areas literally is what sends box office up or down, even from one day to the next.  Mostly happens among teenagers who have these phones.  As they are walking out of the theatre, or even during the movie, they instant message their friends with their opinion of the movie.  The friends listen and heed the instant word-of-mouth and patronize the movie or stay away in droves, that they see/stay away in turn gets instant messaged around, and that in turn spreads, etc.  This communications phenomenon is credited by movie studios as the element that makes/breaks a film.  Those who "spread the word" in this manner ignore the slick marketing campaigns surrounding the premiere weekend of a movie, ignore the hype-type interviews on TV and other mass media, get down to the point of "Is this worth seeing or not, yes/no?"  This phenomenon is credited with, after opening day of a movie, spiking the box office not just from one weekend to the next, but from opening day to the next day, either sharply up/down, and driving the longevity of any given movie at the box office.

The article points out various summer films.  Specifically about Disney films the article cites "Finding Nemo" and "Pirates of the Caribbean:  Curse of the Black Pearl" as being beneficiaries of positive word of mouth spread in this new fashion.

The phenomenon started in Japan with an action movie called "Ringu" in 1998.  The Japanese are highly into technologies and using them.  Their instant word of mouth drove the success of that movie in that country and sparked a U.S. version to be made.  Another social media trend that contributes to the instant messaging are such TV shows as "Survivor" and "American Idol", where votes to stay on/off the stage render immediate results.

Disney marketing chief Oren Aviv said repeat customers and positive word of mouth contributed to Disney's box office successes this summer.  Box office attendence this summer is actually 3.3% down this year from last summer, he pointed out, yet "Finding Nemo" is the highest grossing animated film of all time and "PotC:  CotBP" is raking in the profits.  Aviv concludes the article with the obvious point and lesson to be learned by Hollywood studios about instant messaging:  "Make a good movie and you win.  Make a crappy movie and you lose."

Article for anyone wanting to find it was slugged "sudden impAct" in the Times Picayune and was written by Lorenza Munoz of the Los Angeles Times.


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Carol Koster
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