June 23: 'District 9' gets Tweeted -- The box office now lives or dies by the tweet
  • Movie

Once upon a time — like, a couple of years ago — people used to go to the movies on, say, a Friday night, mull over the film they’d seen (for a couple of days even!), then go to work the following Monday and have a chat (face-to-face, without any typing at all!) with their co-workers about what they thought of it. Sometimes this conversation would take place around a thing called a watercooler (an actual receptacle for cold water!). If they liked the movie, they’d encourage others to go; if not, they’d say don’t bother. Hollywood marketers called this ”word of mouth,” because it involved words coming out of mouths.

This year, thanks largely to texting and Twitter, the metabolism of buzz suddenly sped up exponentially, wreaking havoc on Hollywood’s long-established ways of marketing movies; audiences streaming out of a film became an instant army of critics. Some movies benefited from these snap judgments: People LOL’d so much at The Hangover, the comedy garnered a tidal wave of good buzz that kept rolling for months. Similarly, moviegoers told their friends that — OMG! — Paranormal Activity was super-scary, driving the microbudgeted horror flick to mass success. And after an early screening at July’s Comic-Con of District 9, season 6 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks tweeted to her hundreds of thousands of followers that the movie was ”AMAZINGGGG,” helping stoke the buzz furnace for the sci-fi film. On the flip side, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno was deemed so un-fabulous by opening-weekend audiences, its box office momentum died in a matter of hours, with ticket sales dropping a whopping 39 percent from Friday to Saturday.

Whether we like it or not, ”word of mouth” has become ”word of thumbs,” and for better or worse, there’s no going back.

Brilliant Celebrity Tweets </p.

”The wait is over! The black Svengali has arrived! I’m on the street turning good girls bad and getting them pregnant!!!”
Tracy Morgan

”Watching my wife steam my suit while wearing a bikini. I love God!”
Ashton Kutcher

”I say, if you love something, set it in a small cage and pester and smother it with love until it either loves you back or dies.”
Mindy Kaling

”If a man really wanted to get away with cheating on his woman, he’d store his other girl’s name in his phone as ‘low battery.”’
John Mayer

”At what point does the sentiment change so radically between ‘Have a good day’ and ‘Have a nice life’?”
Sarah Silverman

  • Movie
  • 88 minutes
  • Dan Mazer