Is Twitter killing the summer blockbuster? Well, some potential blockbusters, perhaps. After opening at #1 on Friday, July 10, “Bruno”, the follow-up to the 2006 hit “Borat” saw second night box office decline by 39%. And that decline is being attributed by some to negative Tweet reactions by opening-night moviegoers. As of July 26, domestic box office for “Bruno” stands at $56.6million; for comparason, at the same point of release “Borat” had earned $90.8million and was showing a positive trend.
“Bruno” is not the only summer flick that may have been done in by less than positive social media responses. “Land of the Lost” and “Year One” are also alleged to be victims of fast-moving poor word-of-mouth driven by Twitter and other social media.
Word-of-mouth has always been an important component in driving audience to the multiplex. Studios have long relied on those avid film fans who clog the theaters the opening weekend and then talk up the film at the water cooler Monday morning. Marketing programs have typically been oriented to building a large opening weekend turnout, with the assumption that the studios had until at least Monday until the rest of the potential audience got the film review (positive or negative) from their movie maven friends and co-workers.
As marketers have tried to harness the power of word-of-mouth, they have embraced a wide variety of social media, including blogs, Facebook, MySpace, etc. with a mix of carefully crafted studio-driven campaigns as well as outreach to influential social media mavens. How many of you were inundated with friend requests to become a “Watchmen” fan earlier this spring?
Now, with many avid film goers (and the most likely to be socially connected) ready to offer a “thumbs down” within minutes of viewing a film, what will happen to the historical opening weekend? Will the window of opportunity be reduced to the first showing, with the verdict in by 8pm Friday night?