Monday, September 11, 2006

Is the Internet Really That Powerful?

About 2 weeks ago Serenity won a Hugo award.  If you haven't seen this movie or watched the TV series that inspired it, Firefly, you should.  It's arguably some of the best TV of recent years.  It's certainly some of the best sci-fi to come down the pipe in a long time.  I was watching the acceptance speech on YouTube and a thought hit me.  Serenity had a *huge* following on the web.  Before the movie came out the hype was really intense.  Then the movie launched and instead of being the next Star Wars it quickly became an also-ran.  The hype didn't translate to lots of people seeing the movie.  It made back the money it cost but didn't make anyone rich.  Recently there was another big internet hyped movie.  Snakes on a Plane received enormous amounts of hype and seemed sure to have at least a huge opening weekend.  It won the weekend but the total box office take was really low.  The hype again didn't translate into people going to see the movie. 

I don't mean to equate these two movies.  Serenity was a great movie.  Snakes is, by all accounts, not very good.  Still, they both had lots of hype.  Lots of blog posts.  Lots of fan websites.  Neither had as many people go see it as was predicted.  Why didn't the hype translate into people going to see the movies?  Is the blogosphere just a echo chamber with a limited audience?  Is it more about the hype itself than the target of the hype?  I don't know the answers but I do find it interesting.  In a day when so much advertising and effort is being made to create a web presence for products, it is important to know whether creating excitement on the web is actually a way to sell products or not. 


  1. Perhaps people who participate in Internet conversations are not representative of the wider population?

  2. I would imagine that there would be a higher correlation between internet users and "sci-fi" fans; that Serenity sold most of its tickets to sci-fi fans, and hardly any tickets to anybody else; but sci-fi is a low portion of the market, so overall it didn't do as well.

    Snakes on a Plane, though appealing to a larger market, sounds like just a bad movie.

  3. "Before the movie came out the hype was really intense. ... Why didn't the hype translate into people going to see the movies?"

    Where, other than the intertubes, did you see the hype?  The average american is online less than 30 minutes a day ( says it's 14 hours a month), so we're clearly the exception.

    It's a self-selecting audience feeding itself.

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