Social media's impact on the film industry

Joe Holloran speaks of the impact of social media on the film industry

Joe Holloran
8th February 2019
Image: Pixelcult, Pixabay
Social medias’ emergence on the scene in the mid-2000s changed the world in a myriad of ways. Some good, many not so good. Film has, in many ways, benefited from this new form of mass communication. But, what are the downsides of these platforms and how can we as users transform our activities to better enhance our experience of films.
The latest blockbuster who's trailer broke the internet. Image:IMDB

The social media sites most prevalent to our discussion here are Twitter and YouTube. Let’s look at their impact separately, starting with YouTube.  In the past, film studios and distributers would fork out millions in TV, radio and print advertising. Today all they have to do is create an account, post the trailer and watch the views role in. Trailers for major blockbusters such as the recent Superhero movies or the Star Wars franchise are viewed in numbers often passing the 100,000,000 mark.

All this free advertising undoubtable helps to boost cinema attendances for these films in an age where many watch pirated copies or wait for the home media releases. There are now also many reaction / review channels on the site that are very popular. While this could backfire if these ‘couch critics’ don’t like a movie, for the most part the reviews see the films they want to and will therefore be positive about them.

Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran was subject to vicious abuse on Twitter. Image:IMDB

The biggest downside to YouTube and film comes in two forms; the ‘down voting’ campaigns of disgruntled minorities (often for questionable reasons) and these channels that only exist to needlessly denigrate films, often picking easy targets, misunderstanding plots or simply jumping on a bandwagon of negativity. Series like Everything Wrong With, Honest Trailers & Film Theorist and others drag the discourse down. They aren’t interested in a dialogue only producing highly polished videos about why they are right and everyone else is wrong.

Like YouTube, Twitter too is a double-edged sword. On the positive side independent cinemas and film studios have utilized Twitter well to promote their products to an audience that would want to see their films. Before Twitter hype for indie films audiences would most likely only hear about them during awards season. Now retweeting has replaced this with the bonus of extra promotional content such as trailers. Films that are particularly strange due to their style or those with a political/social story have a chance of going viral on Twitter due to the sites love of spreading the bizarre & the culturally ‘woke’.

The major downside to Twitter is of course the vile doxing seen during the run up to the recent Ghostbusters remake, or the abuse aimed at Asian actress Kelly-Marie Tran from The Last Jedi. Twitter gives a voice to all, and there are still masses of regressive trolls waiting to brush the crumbs of their mother’s keyboard at the first sign of diversity.

The next time you’re on social media have a closer look at how film is being treated and try to do your part to make these platforms a place of discussion, disagreement and collective excitement, rather than a playground for the toxic.

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