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Maybe Twitter Can’t Predict Box Office Results After All [STUDY]

There has been a lot of buzz about how Twitter can predict real-world events like changes in the the stock market and political elections. However, a new study suggests that all of this clairvoyant Twitter talk might just be that – talk.

Felix Ming Fai Wong and colleagues at Princeton prepared a report examining the association with Twitter movie reviews and critic reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.

They focused on the Oscar season for their analysis. Between February 2 and March 12, the team gathered over 1.7 million tweets containing the titles of 34 Oscar-nominated films, filtering out those that weren’t actually related to the films (such as filtering out “the grey cat is cute” which does not actually mention the film “The Grey”).

Going deeper, they sorted the tweets into positive and negative sentiment towards the movies, and filtered out the tweets sent before the person had actually seen the movie and examined those only sent after, to distinguish between hype and actual opinion.

Comparing the tweets from Twitter-ers who had seen Oscar-nominated films with critic reviews from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, the researchers found some pretty interesting patterns.

It turns out that Twitter critics are a positive group. Reviews of movies on Twitter are much more positive than reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. The researchers suggest that this could have some interesting implications for marketers, and that they should maybe focus on increasing positive sentiment from their customers rather than decreasing negative sentiment.

Also, Twitter reviews are usually not consistent with reviews on the two sites, the latter of which the researchers say are often predictive of box office earnings. Twitter buzz didn’t track with revenue in many cases, so the researchers say marketers and film companies should be cautious about using Twitter and other social networks to determine sales.

(Movie theater image via Shutterstock)

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