- Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
In preparation for the 2012 MTV Movie Awards, we at MTV Insights have been conducting research to understand this generation’s unique relationship with movies -- what movies mean to Millennials, what draws Millennials to the theater, and what constitutes the “magic of movies” for this generation. In a previous post, we discussed the renewed significance of movie-going as an expression of Millennials’ craving for real-life communal experiences. In this post, we share another key insight …
The massive rise of social media has shifted the "half-life" of the movie-going experience -- stretching-out horizontally and deepening vertically the experience before, during and after the movie itself -- and transformed the material of movies into the stuff of social currency.
Before a highly-anticipated movie comes out – and sometimes, even before a movie goes into production – Millennials throw themselves into research-mode. “We try to know as much as we can before we go in,” says Scott, 20.
Whether they are posting trailers on Facebook, scrounging on the internet for behind-the-scenes photos, or debating studios’ casting choices, Millennials maintain a sustained level of excitement for upcoming movies by consuming and sharing any info they can get their hands on – even if it means ruining certain surprises. “You pretty much can’t avoid spoilers anymore,” says Javier, 24.
With so much amplified build-up, Millennials treat the release of a highly-anticipated film as a major cultural happening. Between the themed costumes, homemade signs, and screaming crowds, opening weekend today often looks more like a rock concert than a movie screening (see our previous post “Is the midnight screening the new rock concert?” http://ow.ly/b7Uk9 ).
Coming off the emotional high of a highly-anticipated movie, Millennials maintain their momentum by extending their involvement with the movie well beyond the couple of hours they spend in the theater. One of our interviewees confessed to us that as soon as he leaves a theater, he often posts a quote from the movie on Facebook in the hopes that someone will “Like” it and/or comment on it, providing him an opportunity to continue discussing the movie. Even long after seeing a movie, the ability to whip out an apropos movie reference – in-person or online -- is a strong form of social currency.
Millennials’ prolonged involvement with their favorite movies – from the pre-premiere build-up to the elaborate screenings to the post-movie discussion -- is deeper than it may appear at first. For a generation that defines themselves by the content they consume, “Like”, or share, movies offer Millennials a common language through which they express their own experiences.
Whether it’s posting a quote from The Notebook on Facebook as a coded signal to their friends that they’re having relationship problems (as one of our respondents admitted to doing) or sharing movie-inspired GIFs from the blog #whatshouldwecallme (or one of its many imitators) to express how they feel about an everyday situation, Millennials are drawing upon a vast pool of movie knowledge to better articulate their own experiences. As Jacqui, 24, explains “For our generation, the culture of movies goes beyond the screen. It becomes a part of your life and a way you identify yourself.”
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