Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Loved the Viral Video. Hated the Movie.

All modern-day marketers covet a viral video. Because what’s a better advertisement for your goods or services than a commercial people ask to watch, and then tell their friends to watch?

Like this one, for Sony’s remake of the classic horror film “Carrie”:

Awesome, right? Everyone who writes about viral video agrees.* Even better: The clip racked up 43 million views in two weeks.

Just one problem: People liked the clip more than the movie.

“Carrie,” which came out on Friday, brought in $17 million over the weekend. That’s either well below predictions that it could do north of $30 million, or a bit below with managed mediocre expectations for a soft showing, depending on whom you listen to in Hollywood.

The notion that people might enjoy an ad more than the product it is promoting isn’t a new one. One particular problem for “Carrie,” though, is that the young audience it was targeting on YouTube is also the audience most likely to tell their friends when they don’t like something. Quite often when they’re still in the theater, via Facebook and Twitter. It’s a new unvirtuous cycle Sony boss Michael Lynton is acutely aware of.

And, sure enough, “Carrie”’s audience was young. And unimpressed with what they saw. Los Angeles Times: “56% of those in attendance were under the age of 25. Those who saw the movie assigned it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, the worst grade given to any of the weekend’s new wide releases.”

* So what if Allen Funt has seen this before? Generation YouTube has never seen Allen Funt.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work