×

They’re blurbing tweets now? Yes they are

Open Road mines critics' Twitter feeds for 'Grey' trailer

It seemed inevitable, and now it’s finally happened: Movie marketers are mining critics’ Twitter feeds for blurbs.

Open Road Films last week dropped a new trailer for “The Grey,” the indie action thriller starring Liam Neeson. Sprinkled throughout the spot are six blurbs, all excerpted from the Twitter accounts of movie critics and bloggers who saw the film last month.

“@THEGREYMOVIE has floored me,” reads the first, attributed to @JHoffman6, the Twitter handle for Jordan Hoffman, a freelancer on assignment for IFC. “Kicks unholy ass,” reads the next, from @headgeek666, the well-known handle of Ain’t It Cool News poobah Harry Knowles. The final cards credited director Joe Carnahan and other filmmakers by their Twitter handles.

It’s not the first time Twitter activity has been used in traditional marketing materials — that precedent appears to belong to “Paranormal Activity 3,” whose trailers included several positive tweets prior to its October bow. The difference: Those 140-character-and-under reviews were issued by average citizens who got into early screenings, not professional writers and critics.

But that threshold was crossed Wednesday when Open Road debuted its third “Grey” trailer on iTunes, culling those six tweets from five different movie bloggers who saw the film Dec. 10 at the annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon, a 24-hour screening series hosted by Knowles at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Texas.

The movie scribes were told they were free to talk and tweet about the movie immediately after seeing it, though they were not told their tweets could wind up on promotional materials. And why would they have been? Open Road came up with the idea only after seeing the response online, marketing prexy Jason Cassidy told Variety.

None of the critics cited said they had any problem with Open Road’s groundbreaking move.

“I thought it was really, really cool that they did that,” said Alan Cerny, who writes for Ain’t It Cool. Via his Twitter handle @NordlingAICN, Cerny tweeted directly at director (and relative Twitter newbie) Joe Carnahan: “That, sir, was DIRTY DOZEN good” — a sentiment Open Road saw fit to include in its trailer.

Neither Cerny nor any of his colleagues who spoke with Variety expressed any concern that the blurbing of tweets — as opposed to the traditional reviews they’re paid to write — would undermine the influence of those reviews. Hoffman did indicate that some fellow writers (not included in the “Grey” trailer) have resisted the idea; he also wondered out loud whether the practice would gain momentum, particularly at this month’s Sundance Film Festival, where hundreds of media types will stream out of screenings nightly, tweeting reactions to dozens of films.

Cassidy said Open Road is happy with the result and won’t hesitate to use the strategy again “when it’s the right film and the right reactions.” Though the “Grey” trailer has only appeared online, Cassidy he wouldn’t hesitate to use it theatrically or on television, where the use of tweets and Twitter handles can’t be far away.

More Film

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” The organizers noted Labaki’s films have all [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content