Social media has pervaded every nook and cranny of society over the past decade. Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall what life was like before Twitter or Instagram. But perhaps one of the most significant impacts via social media falls on the film industry. The movie-going experience has altered in recent years, changing a landscape that remained largely untouched since the invention of television. 

Now, change doesn’t always mean “bad.” There are pros and cons just like anything else in life. Let’s take a look at some of those alterations here. 

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Social Media Is a Great Advertising Tool 

Mediatoolkit published an article back in April regarding social media’s impact on the film industry. In said article, the author explored a new statistic from Neurostar (as stated in Marketing Drive): digital media dominated 46% of  box office revenue. However, only 14% of that is allocated for studio marketing budgets. Meanwhile, TV ads make up 82% of marketing budgets, with 42% of that being accounted for box office revenues. In terms of specific social or digital media platforms, Facebook proved to boast the most dollar signs. 

Now, think about social media accounts for major impending blockbusters. We’re inundated with reminders of trailer releases, official movie posters, and even teaser trailers. Interviews from movie stars can be viewed/read with the click of a link. Everything is immediate and instantaneous. Obviously, engaging with fans on a social platform can increase a film’s chances of performing well at the box office. Not only that, it can provide fans with an outlet to share their thoughts with other fans. In addition, fans can air their grievances – which can vary from egregious errors to seemingly innocuous complaints. 

Remember when Sonic the Hedgehog released that trailer way back when? You know the one. The visuals for the titular hedgehog seemed off, to put it lightly. After fans rallied together on social media to voice their disapproval, the Powers That Be backtracked and returned to the drawing board. Thankfully, after a design upheaval, the next trailer debuted a much more accurate looking Sonic. The moral of the story is this: now, with social media, fans can hold the film industry accountable when they massively fork up. Of course, there’s a difference between listening to fans’ legitimate concerns vs. catering to their every whim and sacrificing a film’s story in the process. 

Still of Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog (pre-revisions)

The face of your nightmares – before Sonic underwent digital renovation.

Social Media Can Zap the Magic Out of a Film 

Now, this next bullet point is solely my opinion. Admittedly, I’m not backing up this section with evidence because, again…my opinion. Going to the movies in the ’80s, ’90s, and aughts was a magical experience. You didn’t know what to expect and there’s something to be said in bracing yourselves for a legitimate surprise. Yes, you’d get TV ads or see billboards, but for the most part you were kept in the dark. I, for one, enjoy surprises. You weren’t privy to every major plot point. In addition, some (not all) film trailers tend to air all the “good parts” of their respective films. Yes, you want to entice moviegoers to theaters.

However, shoving significant plot lines or hefty spoilers into one trailer can make the viewer feel as though they’ve already watched the movie. Why shell out money for an expensive movie ticket when you can watch a three-minute trailer for free? 

Moreover, piracy has been on the rise for some time now. With an exponential surge in movie ticket prices, it’s free to simply stream a film from a piracy site. Thus, this can negatively impact box office revenues as well. But piracy is illegal so don’t get any ideas, folks. 

woman-sitting-beside-window-holding-phone-915051.jpg

She’s definitely not pirating movies on her phone.

Social Media Can Be a Toxic Cesspool of Angry Trolls 

Now, this applies to any aspect of life, not just the film industry. However, there’s quite a lot of toxicity in online movie fandoms – especially on Twitter. We’ve all seen it: a barrage of hate-riddled comments directed at a specific film, said film’s director, and performers. Insults are hurled from keyboard warriors who are bereft of any actual hobbies.

Of course, this can muddle a film’s reception or make it difficult for true fans to voice their opinions for fear of venomous backlash from a small (but mighty) malicious social media faction. That, and it’s mentally/emotionally draining witnessing fans of films, who are most likely strangers in real life, turning on each other. Especially since films are a form of escapism. Wading chest-deep in poisonous, malignant social media comments is not my idea of escapism. So, in order to counteract that, film studios must ensure that they’re utilizing social media for the Light Side and not the Dark Side. That’s how Sith Lords are born…through social media troll accounts. 

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What are your thoughts regarding social media’s influence on the film industry? Sound off in the comments below!

 

This article was originally published 6/25/20

 

 

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