Way back in October of 2009 I wrote an article entitled “Is Twitter the New Film Critic?” I now know the answer to that question is “yes.” My theory was that with so many people talking about movies on Twitter it may be possible to assess the success or failure of a film based on film-goers opinions. Twitter commentary could feasibly act as a barometer for new releases and be the best movie critic to date.
I’m kicking myself for not acting on that idea because now someone beat me to the punch. TechCrunch brings word of a new site called fflick; a movie “review” site that taps into Twitter and determines how well films are trending on the social site by analyzing how often the film is mentioned:
“…you’ll find the Positive and Negative tweets, which display a list of tweets that the site has automatically categorized using its sentiment engine. After looking through a handful of movies, I found that the system was pretty good at identifying both negative and positive tweets, though there were occasionally some tweets that were only mentioning a film in passing or were mis-categorized.”
Having gone through some of the current film ratings myself on fflick I have to say the site reflected what I would consider to be the true sentiment regarding a particular film. The way in which this process works is not unlike movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.
That site also gauges “freshness” of a film by polling positive and negative movie reviews. The difference between the two is that fflick basically cuts out the middleman/woman (i.e. the film critic) and pulls data right from the source, the people filling theater seats.
The site is not without perception issues which may skew results. fflick takes in all Twitter comments regardless of whether or not the commenter is actually praising the film or not. For example, something like “I can’t wait to see Gattaca” provides no opinion on the film one way or the other but is still included in ranking.
Nevertheless, the power behind this site is enough to base a business model on; fflick’s founders are planning on selling the data they collect to film studios who will gauge public opinion of their movies. The concept is genius and as such it should come as no surprise that the people behind fflick are former employees of the profoundly successful news site Digg, with Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) acting in an advisory capacity.
Will fflick replace film critics? I doubt it. As much as I like to trash talk critics they have, and always will, provide a far more thorough assessment of film quality. No matter what anyone thinks, no film can be summed up in 140 characters or less. Except maybe for Transformers 1 and 2, “They sucked.” Now what do I do with the remaining 129 characters? Fingers crossed I did my math right on that.
While it may not be me making millions of dollars off fflick at least I can rest easy knowing I had at least one great idea in my lifetime. fflick will be a very interesting site to watch as it evolves and begins to dissect the data it collects more thoroughly (e.g. by demographic). Rest easy film critics, no need to start working on those resumes. . . yet.