Blog Post

Twitter Chatter Boosts Tarantino’s Take

Quentin Tarantino’s violent Nazi revenge fantasy Inglorious Basterds topped the box office this weekend, pulling in more than $37 million domestically, thanks in part to Twitter. Or so proposes the Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Business Blog, which speculates that after a $14 million opening on Friday, the film picked up steam over the weekend as the positive tweets kept rolling in.

We asked research service Trendrr for any Tweet-stats they had on Basterds, and their data shows that the number of tweets about the movie steadily climbed through most of Saturday before tapering off late Saturday/early Sunday.


What made Basterds‘ Twit-storm so notable, writes Risky Business, was being the first film this summer that appears to have been helped, not beaten down by Tweets. Films like Funny People and Bruno received a so-so greeting from the social media community, which was reflected in their middling box office takes.

Basterds provided a nice case study in how social services like Twitter can perhaps move the needle on a movie. Since screening at Cannes earlier this year, Basterdslike Tarantino himself — was a polarizing film, with critics either loving or hating it. Success at the box office this past weekend was far from guaranteed.

Even if Twitter pushed Basterds over the top, it doesn’t appear that Tarantino would notice. There is a Quentin J. Tarantino account on the service, but it has only 5 updates, the last of which was on July 24th. Perhaps he should Tweet “thank you.”

13 Responses to “Twitter Chatter Boosts Tarantino’s Take”

  1. Chris, I like much of what you write for NewTeeVee, but trust me – you have to be really careful when you start drawing conclusions from data. That old line about “lies, damn lies and statistics” has a lot of truth in it.

    Per Nikki Finke, the box office take for the movie was HIGHEST on Friday ($14.3M), down a bit on Saturday ($12.9M) and further down on Sunday ($10.3M). Fewer people saw it each day, yet the volume of Twitter mentions kept going up…because more people total had seen it, and thus more were talking about.

    Never mind causation, it appears there isn’t even a correlation between box office performance and tweets.

    On top of that, I’m not even sure you’re reading the graph right. If the pink line is measuring PER DAY, then you’re talking about 3 or 4 data points total, one per day. The line that’s been drawn connecting the dots doesn’t represent data or even a trend…it’s just connecting dots. So it’s not correct to say that it “climbed through most of Saturday” before tapering off. All the pink line shows is that Saturday’s total was a lot higher than Friday’s, and Sunday’s was down a bit from Saturday’s.

    Judging by the area under the green curve, volume peaked late Friday night/early Saturday as the most eager Quentin fans and other early attendees tweeted. (That’s the spike above the “u” in “22-Aug.”)

    (The pattern on Saturday looks like what I would assume is a more normal tweet distribution, basically a flat bell shape – people tweet less during the US sleeping hours. But here I’m speculating.)

    If I were you and your editors, I’d pull this article down and do a major rework on it, lest the headline continue to mislead and misstate the facts.

    • Chris Albrecht

      Hi SR,

      I appreciate your thoughts. I don’t think it needs a major re-working as I put enough caveats in my language there to show that this wasn’t scientific, and I was referring to another pub’s initial report.

      Even Nikke Finke’s data is outdated at this point as boxofficemojo reports the total for Basterds is now up to $38.1 million. (Though the film did dip on Saturday and Sunday).

      • Well, “Twitter Chatter Boosts Tarantino’s Take” is a caveat-free statement. Given the way people skim news via headlines and RSS feeds, that may be all people take away.