Hollywood vs. The Blogosphere: A Mutual Misunderstanding

In the past few weeks I’ve researched the evolution of numerous elements of the film industry; this week I want to examine the fascinating correlation between the blogosphere and Hollywood. Every second of everyday someone is blogging about the film industry. From box office analysis to film reviews, the business and lifestyle of Hollywood continues to dominate the interests of amateur writers across the globe. What affect has this medium that allows for instant worldwide dispersion of commentary had on the film industry?

Steven Zeitchik of the Hollywood Reporter explains in his article, Non-Screening are the new screening, that films that go unseen prior to their worldwide debut may have an advantage over films that are reviewed before they open. In the article Zeitchik refers to the conscious marketing strategy of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” By not offering early screenings of the film to semi-professionals and non-professional writers, these authors are forced to blog about how much they wish they could see the movie. While this strategy does not lead to an increase in optimism for the film, it does preemptively stop the spread of undesirable publicity and coverage. Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times also chose to write about the "viral nature" of the blogging medium. Goldstein however chose to comment on the negative effects it has had on Hollywood reporting. In his article, Blogger attacked by (gasp) other bloggers!, Goldstein takes aim at the shameless and unsubstantiated articles that so called credible bloggers put out on a daily basis. In an age dominated by the desire for instant gratification bloggers have been only too happy to appease. Using a real life example, Goldstein shows how even professional writers have traded in their integrity for the opportunity to be the first to break a story. The major downside to the blogging medium is how it promotes a lack of virtue and accountability from writers. Gossip is entertaining and it attracts readers and subscribers. The act of passing on gossip, rumors and unprofessional reviews as reliable intelligence has become an epidemic spreading across the Internet and the blogosphere.

“Non-Screenings are the new screenings”

Mr. Zeitchik thank you for your insightful perspective on perhaps a new trend in Hollywood. It has become the norm to see reviews and advertising for big budget films months before they open and this certainly has not been the situation for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. The blogging medium has influenced many features of our culture and as you and others have pointed out the film industry has also been forced to react. I think Hollywood is now aware of the influential power of the blogging world and until they can find a way to control the medium, it is probably better to not indulge bloggers and offer early screenings for films. A negative review can spread across the Internet extremely fast and be seen by millions of viewers. Hollywood formerly operated with the understanding that any publicity is good publicity. I do not think that is the case any more. Consumers now tend to unquestionably believe negative reviews. The principal drawback to blogs is the lack of accountability and authority from the writers. Personally I find it hard to separate reviews from credible and professional critics and regular unprofessional consumers who paid the same twelve dollars to see the movie as everyone else. However this is not a completely negative phenomenon. For years a majority of consumers felt those being paid to critique films did not represent their tastes and now people can read reviews from real people who they can relate to. What I think will be most interesting about this new covert marketing scheme is if it is a damage control tactic or if the movie is actually good. Your opinion on this new marketing trend and its causes creates an excellent forum for discussion. I appreciate your continued effort that you put forth in your blog and eagerly await future posts on the evolution of Hollywood. I have a few general questions about this topic that I would love to hear your opinion on. Do you think the blogosphere has been overall damaging to the success of some films? Do you believe we will start to see the stealthy marketing scheme used by “Button” on other big films? Are we seeing the end of early screenings for critics?

Blogger attacked by (gasp) other bloggers!

Mr. Goldstein, thank you for your fitting blog post. There is a rash of unsubstantiated reports, rumors and gossip that are being passed off by bloggers as credible information. Unlike the film critics of the past these new bloggers feel no sense of accountability for their work. It is easier to gain readers and blog subscribers when you have the most interesting stories even if they lack evidence and could be completely hearsay. It is also very challenging for the casual blog reader to weed out the few quality blogs from the literally millions of unprofessional blogs that comprise the blogosphere. There are websites like Technorati that attempt to develop a ranking system for blogs however I personally find it a little too complicated. Do you believe that the average blog reader understands that most blog posts contain unconfirmed information? I’m surprised and extremely concerned to hear in your article that credible writers from sources like Variety are not doing the necessary research for their posts. Do you believe this may just be an individual case or have you encountered many gossip driven blogs written by professionals? I read another post this week by Steven Zeitchik of the Hollywood Reporter titled “Non-Screenings are the new screenings”. In the article Mr. Zeitchik discuses how major studios may be starting to follow a more discrete marketing plan in response to the truly bizarre coverage that plagues the blogosphere and the Internet. Do you think this is a growing trend? Thank you again for the intriguing and yet disturbing post.

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