In chapter 7 of Hermida’s book, “Tell Everyone,” he talks about how social media buzz before a movie’s release can make or break a movie’s success. I agree with him completely that social media and hype before a movie are huge factors in a movie’s success, and that minimal talk about a movie before it releases can really hurt it.
I see this personally all the time. As a huge fan of anime and foreign films, it is very hard to see the films I want to at the movie theater. Since they are not talked about nearly as much as blockbuster films, they are rarely even shown in theaters near me. There are about four movies a year that seep through the cracks and make it into the theater I go to, but they only have one showing, usually at an inconvenient time, in a small theater, and tickets are more expensive. All of this is caused by the theater not thinking many people will see it. It is a potential risk to show this movie, as it may not generate as much money as putting another movie in that theater. But if more people talked about it on social media, the theater would realize just how many people would pay to see it theaters, and more of these types of movies would be released, with more showings.
I can even point to an example of this today. Later tonight, my movie theater is showing the first three episodes of a new anime as a mini-marathon. Unfortunately, there is only one showing, and I would have never found out about it if I did not regularly check my local theaters’ showtimes for these types of movies. But how can the theater think that only a few people will go, when they do not advertise the movie/marathon at all? You would never even know this existed unless you went to the specific day and looked at all the movies being played. I think this part falls on the theater and Funimation, the company releasing the film in America. They did not publicize the marathon at all, they did not even air one trailer on TV, or a single ad online about it. Of course only a few people will go, because only a very small few will find out about it! (I just checked earlier today, and they added a second showing and put the film at the top of the movie list on the mobile app, which is awesome! But they should have done that a week ago. . .)
Theaters, and the companies releasing the films, need to advertise these movies, then I know more people will go, which will be better for everyone. Your Name, an anime movie by Makoto Shinkai, was only available at one theater where I live, and there were minimal showings. This movie was the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time in Japan, and the second-highest grossing animated movie of all time in Japan. Had they done anything to publicize it, whether it be trailers, ads, or social media posts, so many more people would have gone. So social media definitely plays a huge role in the success of a movie, which sucks for me, because the movies I love do not generate any talk, leading to poorer and fewer releases.