I saw The Avengers last weekend, like $200 million worth of other folks. (Though full disclosure: I saw it at a screening at the Producer's Guild. No money changed hands.)
It was okay. Better than okay, really, but it was about 20 minutes too long, and I'm tired of watching the same third act in every single superhero movie -- crazy attack from flying villains; lots of urban destruction; people looking up from cars and cabs and running in terror. Yawn. And I wish they took some of those millions they spend on special effects and spent them on extras and a more realistic-looking New York street. I mean, they made me believe in a flying aircraft carrier. Surely they could afford better set dressing.
I knew I'd like the movie, though, even before the opening scene. Twitter told me. And Twitter is becoming awfully important to the movie business. From the Financial Times:
Hollywood’s peak summer season starts in earnest next week with the release of The Avengers, a movie that throws characters such as Iron Man, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk together in one action-filled super hero melange.
Walt Disney has high expectations for its film, given its recent box-office flop, John Carter . But thanks to Twitter and other social media sites, the company can predict to a relatively high degree of accuracy how much money the film will make on its critical opening weekend.
What we used to call the "watercooler effect" -- the way a movie or TV show would be discussed and promoted around the office watercooler -- is now online:
Yet while Twitter can help studios tailor marketing campaigns it has also become a powerful tool that can turbocharge the word of mouth that can hurt a film’s box-office performance. Academics from the Cass Business School in London have analysed 4m film-related tweets and concluded Twitter postings could sway the box office results of a film after its first night on release.
“We found that sentiment spread via Twitter immediately after a new movie’s release systematically influences other consumers’ decisions about whether to attend a screening . . . during the remainder of its opening weekend,” said Caroline Wiertz, who co-wrote the report.
That's what all of those people are doing as they stare listelessly into their smartphones. They're getting movie recommendations.