Internet: Technology Changes Every Aspect of Hollywood

The studios need to embrace social networks if they want to market their new pictures—or else risk being ignored. The vast majority (79 perecnt) of those questioned said, “Going to the movies is a good escape from everyday life.”
These are the main conclusions of Moviegoers 2010, the first report on moviegoing habits produced by Stradella Road, the entertainment marketing firm founded by former New Line Web guru Gordon Paddison. The study hopes to assist film marketers in determining how to reach consumers over the next decade.
About 94% of all moviegoers are now online. The study found that teens and twentysomethings are especially alert to customize entertainment and are quick to share their opinions with others digitally, especially as use of the Internet, mobile devices and DVRs has become more widespread.
The younger demographics is especially crucial in spreading word of mouth: 73% of the moviegoers surveyed have some profiles on social networking sites. Sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have grown in popularity.
Paddison’s study breaks down specific age groups and how they consume movies and the marketing messages leading up to their releases.
Teens (Age 13-17)
Teens are “share information and group thinking,” the report said, with social networking a critical communication tool. They go to movies in large groups and are heavily influenced by their friends’ opinions. They also prefer texting over phone conversations. More than 70% also surf the Web and text while watching TV, and 67% of them socialize with friends online.
Twentysomethings (age 18-29)
Twentysomething “are digital natives that have grown up with technology” and are more likely to go online for movie info and to share what they think about movies via social networks; 58% socialize with friends online. They use the Internet to find any kind of information and place a high value on online consumer reviews and sites that aggregate reviews.
Audiences in their 30s are time-constrained, with parenthood dominating their decisions. They split their moviegoing trips between their children and their spouses. They “spend the highest number of hours online and rep the highest use of technology (Internet, broadband access, DVR ownership and cell phone).” They also view the most recorded TV and skip the most ads via their DVRs.
Those in their 40s embrace traditional media like magazines and newspapers, with moviegoing dominated by special family occasions and influenced by teens.
And fiftysomethings avoid crowds, prefer matinees and “skip ads because they think there are too many commercials on TV.”
Given the increased influence of websites on which consumers buy movie tickets, AOL, Facebook, Fandango, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo were enlisted to supply data for the study.
The study was conducted by surveying 1,547 moderate-to-heavy moviegoers over eight days in July, with an additional 2,305 questioned by phone or online during July. Nielsen NRG managed the research fieldwork.
TV Still Dominates
Though many moviegoers are going online to get info on upcoming releases, TV still dominates as the leading tool to generate awareness for films, with 73% of those surveyed saying they first heard about a movie by watching a 30-second spot. In-theater trailers were close behind with 70%, followed by word of mouth (46%) and the Internet (44%).
Most films are now considered critic-proof, especially among the younger set, with 84% of moviegoers saying, “When they make up their mind to see a movie, it doesn’t matter what the critics say about it.” It may depend on who’s giving them the thumbs up or down, however.
Older Viewers Rely on Reviews
While 62% now get their reviews online, only audience over 50 rely on newspaper reviews.
Of those surveyed, 75% said they trust a friend’s opinion more than a movie critic; 80% said they were more likely to see a movie after hearing a positive review from other moviegoers, while only 67% said a thumbs up from a professional critic had the same weight.
Yet only 40% said negative reviews from their peers would dissuade them from seeing a movie, while an even lower 28% would be kept from theaters because of a critic’s opinion, meaning that at the end of the day, negative word of mouth doesn’t have as much influence.
The results don’t really give Hollywood many new worries as the box office is far up this year and looks like it will be strong for years to come despite the current recession.