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Social Media Article

January 2013 Edition of Horizon Media’s newsletter The Social

Lights, Camera, Social: How the Movie Industry is Generating Buzz

‘Tis the season… awards show season, that is. Facebook, Twitter, and other social spaces are abuzz with talk of nominations and films and Golden Globes and Oscars. In an era when movie ticket sales have de-clined almost every year for the last decade, filmmakers and entertainment companies are constantly searching for fresh and inexpensive ways to get the word out, and are increasingly turn-ing to the Internet to do so.

Social media marketing has caused a shift in the way movies generate buzz and revenue, and may even be saving the film industry from bankruptcy. Though ticket sales have declined annually since 2002, gross annual revenue has doubled. The Internet may be a source of frustration for the film industry in one respect, due to the rise of online piracy (some estimates show that piracy costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year), but in many respects the web provides significant ways for entertainment companies to minimize costs while maximizing profits.

Not only can the film industry cut down drastically on shipping costs by using the Internet to transfer large files through cloud computing, but Hollywood can also approach marketing in new, creative, and often cost effective ways thanks to social media. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other means, entertainment companies can initiate marketing campaigns that have the potential to go viral. Filmmakers are increasingly utilizing their social fan bases to get movies in theaters, as MGM did with its comedy Hot Tub Time (2010), by having fans on Twitter request screenings at their local theaters.

Lionsgate ran one of the most talked about social marketing campaigns with its 2012 blockbuster Hunger Games. The movie saw high engagement on Facebook due to a campaign that allowed fans to become citizens of the “districts” featured in the movie. Last month’s release of The Hobbit was preceded by the release of a viral flight safety movie promoting the movie and starring a few of The Hobbit’s lead cast members. The movie garnered over 2 mil-lion views before the release of The Hobbit in December.

Even making movies is becoming a more social endeavor. This year, three films backed by Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform are nominated for Oscars. No Kickstarter-funded film has won an Oscar before, but that could change this year. We’ll find out on February 24th when the winners are announced.

From cloud computing file transfers to viral marketing campaigns to crowdsourced funding, Hollywood is taking full advantage of the capabilities of the web and social media, and this trend is likely to keep growing in 2013. While traditionally brands would have to have a direct alignment with a movie release, social media now allows brands to buy around the social buzz of certain stars on Twitter and other platforms, spreading the hype even wider.

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