Hollywood Can't Handle Anyone Connecting With Fans… So It Contractually Tries To Stop Them

from the suicide-in-the-making dept

The whole “connect with fans” and give them a “reason to buy” mantra fits with pretty much any kind of content creation — and absolutely works in the movie industry. We’ve talked, for example, about the amazing job that Clerks writer/director/filmmaker/actor/funny guy (he recently said he doesn’t like being described as “just” a filmmaker) Kevin Smith does in connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. Lately, a lot of that has been happening via Twitter, which is great. Except in the minds of the Hollywood studios. Apparently, lots of new studio contracts are including anti-Twitter language, forbidding writers, actors and others from chatting too much about the movies they’re working on. Some just talk about “confidentiality breaches” while others forbid saying anything disparaging.

This is the typical Hollywood “control everything” mindset, but totally goes against the way fans want to connect, these days, and will do a lot more to harm these movies than help. People want to follow their favorite actors/directors on the set and know what’s going on. It helps get them more excited about the movies, well before they otherwise might have. Shutting them down, just because some studio execs, who have probably never used Twitter, are too paranoid to recognize it as a great promotional vehicle, seems backwards and shortsighted.

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Comments on “Hollywood Can't Handle Anyone Connecting With Fans… So It Contractually Tries To Stop Them”

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Matt (profile) says:

Agree that it’s a control issue. A big part of the problem is that the studios do not want organic or viral marketing, because they want to control the timing of buzz. In part, this is because they release more than one movie a year, and more than one at a time. So they want the hype for their disappointing summer blockbuster peaking at release, just as the buzz for their fall sleeper is starting to build and the surprising December release date of their Christmas animated feature is announced. If all the buffs are tuning in to the overly flash-saturated website for their October surprise horror throwback in May, they aren’t paying attention to the expensive explosions and overdone CG over which they are supposed to be salivating.

Put differently, it has its roots in a collosal failure to understand cross-marketing opportunities.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Why the distinction?

It seems pretty silly to make up new contractual restrictions made “just for” social networking. The studios already covered confidentiality in public comments about their productions. Why not just clarify that a “tweet” or any open forum posting is a public statement and leave it at that.

Other than that, if I were a producer/director I would probably just tell them “say what you want, just don’t be a twit on my time”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But of course...

This website is a cesspool of bigotry against profesional middlemen. It’s deplorable and disgusting how much vitriol is aimed at these fine men and not many women. You should all be ashamed.

Middlemen are your fathers and brothers and sons. They assist in helping create our very own culture by helping lockout what the people do with that culture.

The people shouldn’t be allowed to show a friend of theirs five or ten minutes of a movie they recorded on their camera phone. Telling their friend how awesome it was and he should totally go see the movie. Hell, it was so awesome they’ll gladly see it again.

Do you actually wish to live in a world like that? I thank the Lord that there are middlemen dedicated to preventing this from ever happening.

Brooks (profile) says:

Re: Re: But of course...

So you’re clearly not a business type, and not an economist, and not a creative person. What, exactly, do you do for a living?

Middlemen are indeed important when there are differences in scale between what producers can make and what consumers can use. It would have been impractical for movie studios to distribute movies to each individual who wanted to see one… in 1920.

As technology improves the marketplace, though, it’s natural for middlemen to be eliminated. Look at Walmart and its relationship with suppliers, or Amazon with theirs. In both cases, at least one layer of distribution has been eliminated, reducing costs (or increasing profit). Eventually, both of these companies may face competition from their suppliers and themselves disappear. I, for one, do not “thank the Lord” that a company (or you) limit what I can buy or how I can use what I’ve bought.

And good luck with your quest to control how your fans promote your products. It’s not going to work. Think more about what you can do to make that friend who saw 10 minutes of footage — which studios would pay a fortune for air time to broadcast in commercial form — still want to go to the theatre, buy the t-shirts and soundtracks, and generally produce revenue.

I don’t think anyone here is going to be ashamed of being aware of economic and technical realities. And the vitriol aimed at middlemen is largely reserved for those who seek to use the government to prop up a failing business model rather than evolving with the times.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: But of course...

One day the middlemen shall rise up and break the oppressive chains of technological advancement and take back the repressive whips that the public uses to beat them with.

If only the middlemen could find one to lead them to the promised land of glorious and profitable profit! And someone else to create a buffer between the middlemen and their leader.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 But of course...

“One day the middlemen shall rise up and break the oppressive chains of technological advancement and take back the repressive whips that the public uses to beat them with.”

That sounds like the premise for an outstanding comedy novel: the uprising of obselete businessmen!

1. Plot twist #1 — The newly formed evil group, Planetary Middlemen Scourge, better known throughout the land as PMS organizes a middlemen strike. Unfortunately, no one outside of their group seems to notice other than profit margins increase for everyone else across the board.

2. Plot twist #2 — Frustrated by their innefficient strike, PMS decides to pursue violent rebellion against the public in general and the Wide Wide world of Webs and intertubes specifically. Unfortunately, since they’re middlemen, the only action they know how to take is to find those that will fight on one side and those to attack on the other. Being inept, PMS fails at finding either.

3. Plot twist #3 — Further frustrated by their total idiocy, PMS members begin infighting with themselves, targeting both their leadership and those with the least amount of leadership as not being of “pure middleman stock”, since only those truly in the middle can be worthy. They eventually widdle their numbers down to one guy, who is the utmost “middleman”. That guy is summarily murdered by Dark Helmet.

The End.

Marcos Faria (user link) says:

As far as I can see, the studios are not realy worried about what Twitter talk can do to directly harm the movies. They are worried about traditional media.

If you run a magazine or TV show, you want exclusive interviews with Hollywood stars. In exchange, you’ll be nice to the studios in your coverage, and propably in the reviews too. Now, if Twitter/Facebook/etc. will tell people all they want to know about their idols, they won’t have to buy your magazine or watch your TV show anymore. Goodbye, “free” publicity.

I still believe that promoting films through social media would be better than spending tons of money in traditional media. But then again, I’m not a studio exec.

Anonymous Coward says:

Social media isn’t any different from regular media in this regard. if you contract says “Don’t talk about this movie while it is in production”, it would apply in all ways. All the companies are doing is assuring that their contract employees are clear on the issue.

Once again Mike, you are going for a HUGE reach, a huge overstatement of the situation. The movie companies are protecting their future product as they have a right to do. Leave them the heck alone. You wouldn’t expect Intel engineers to be on twitter discussing their latest findings, now would you?

it’s really sad to see what lengths you will go to try and tar and feather the content producers, and even sadder to see your dittoheads agreeing.

Brooks (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Um. So your argument is:

1) They’ve always done this for old communications mediums and old markets

2) This is just the rote application of those old rules to new mediums and new markets

3) Therefore, it’s a good idea

Do I have that right? Do you maybe, you know, see a problem with #2 there?

And Mike, at least in this case, is tarring and feathering executives and legal departments, not content producers. Many content producers understand the value of audience. The knee-jerkers implementing these policies only understand the value of product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your analogy doesn’t work. Intel engineers would geek out on finding a new way to get 2% more efficiency out of chip. And even then it’d only be useful to people that actually use the same architecture and chip layouts which is to say NO ONE ELSE but for the sake of argument sure, the engineer details out in a tweet how to make a better product.

If you are an actor twittering about an action movie what the hell are you going to talk about? “I totally just watched my stunt double pirouette in the sky with a sweet ass car and explode! Dude came out fine and we are going to party” Yea some BIG trade secrets revealed there. Oh no they took a picture of an actor acting… we are getting close to a competing studio to recreate your summer block buster!

Mike is saying they are protecting nothing. I personally don’t see them protecting anything myself if you want to argue this point perhaps point out how they are protecting their creative process with restrictive methods.

Secondly Mike likens this to making sure your movie doesn’t have one form of advertisement. Which is counter intuitive to what your would normally try to do with a product.

Mike isn’t trying to tar and feather them and I don’t see where you are getting this strong language from. He’s pointing out that it seems extremely silly to kill advertisement when you are trying to advertise something.

Brooks (profile) says:

An easy solution

You know, sometimes I think these jokes genuinely believe it’s in their best interest to drive fans away.

But then I come to my senses and look forward to the day when a bunch of the decision making execs come forward to reveal that they are actually a cabal of performance artists who got together in the early 90’s with the express goal of destroying the film and music industries, and that they’ve worked their asses off, gone to MBA schools, and all of that crap, just so they can bring the hated empires down from the inside.

I mean, really… my theory is more plausible, right? This has to be one very big joke. Nobody could genuinely be that clueless.

Nelson Cruz (profile) says:

Jon Favreau has used his blog and twitter to talk about Iron Man, “leak” photos, etc, and I would say with some success. It helps to build anticipation for the movie. In my view even Wolverine’s leaked workprint copy served that propose.

I can understand them wanting to control disparaging comments, but completely forbidding the use of twitter, etc, is cutting their own legs.

Mojo Bone says:

Non-disclosure agreements have been around for a while, if not forever. Do you really want some disgruntled nincompoop tweeting plot spoilers to your favorite entertainments? And studio publicity agents do indeed have schedules to keep and print media to manipulate, so please put your heads down and get back in line; there’s nothin’ to see, here. On the other hand, I’m still glad somebody saved me the fourteen bucks I woulds spent on the fourth Indiana Jones movie. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Because Twitter is only ever used to spoil plots, right?

The issue isn’t that spoilers are being stopped, it’s that EVERYTHING is being cut off in the hopes that a potential spoiler might be avoided.

It’s stupid to kill off an advertising avenue on the off-chance that a problem might arise. Why not bar actors from doing interviews pre-movie release too?

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, I do beliieve that all research, development and production (these terms apply with equal force to the creation of “entertainment” goods) should be made totally transparent so that fans/customers/etc. can follow and comment on the work every step of the way. One should never allow a production deadline to get in the way of “connecting”. That is so 20th century….

btr1701 (profile) says:


Such a contractual clause won’t solve the studio’s “problem” at all. So you write in a clause that bans Susie Actress from tweeting about her show. She’s still going to talk about it at home with family and friends and they can tweet about it all they like. They’re not subject to Susie’s contract. This is a perfect workaround for actors and writers like Susie who might want to publicize something via social media but who find themselves hampered by their contracts.

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