Quick recap for those of you not familiar with the term “astroturfing”. This is when someone (usually someone with a vested interest in seeing a movie do well at the box office) posts comments in public forums masquerading as an unbiased member of the viewing public, proclaiming how much they’re looking forward to seeing the film, and how good it looks. The practice was labelled astroturfing because it attempts to create the impression of genuine grassroots support, but it’s all faker than my geography teacher’s hairpiece.
You may have read our post earlier today about some none-too-subtle astroturfing being carried out beneath posts about the new trailer for Tarsem Singh‘s Mirror Mirror. It’s not a very classy way of selling tickets, but if any film needed to stoop to these levels it was Mirror Mirror. Not only did Singh’s most recent offering, Immortals, get a decidedly lukewarm reaction from audiences and critics alike (currently holding at only 46/100 over at Metacritic), Mirror Mirror will also be competing with Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman, which features a much more well-known cast including Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. It seems that the astroturfing was targeted at the trailer for Mirror Mirror because a lot of people found it to be somewhat underwhelming.
So that’s the excuse for Mirror Mirror, but two more films have joined the Astroturf Club and these films really didn’t need the boost. Trevor Anderson over at Movie Mavericks has uncovered some more suspiciously enthusiastic members of the viewing public who couldn’t contain their excitement about two films in particular. Read these two comments, both posted repeatedly in response to articles about The Hunger Games and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 on sites like Collider, The Playlist and FirstShowing.net.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Yes! Yes! Yes! OMG it’s almost here! Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is going to be huge! I can’t wait!!! I’ll be going on opening night with all my girls! Woooo!
The Hunger Games
Yes! Yes! Yes! OMG ‘The Hunger Games’ is going to be huge! I can’t wait!!! I’ll be going on opening night with all my girls! Woooo!
This astroturfing is mystifying on a number of levels. First of all, it’s extremely incompetent, not only using the exact same comment for both films but also failing to provide a convincing imitation of genuine excitement. If the marketing teams for The Hunger Games and Twilight actually paid someone to carry this out then they probably need to ask for their money back.
Secondly, neither of these films are particularly in need of an audience boost. The Hunger Games is an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ hugely popular novel of the same name and has been hotly anticipated ever since it was announced. As for Twilight, you only need to walk past a cinema the night before the release and see the hordes of twittering teenage girls camped out in tents with their miserable boyfriends to realise that this film already has an enormous fanbase ready to slap down their money to see it. In fact, the Breaking Dawn opening broke box office records here in the UK, taking in almost £14 million during its opening weekend.
The two films don’t have any cast members in common, otherwise I’d think that someone’s agent was behind it, and they’re both being produced by different studios. Perhaps they have the same marketing team, or perhaps Chantal, Johanna, Lorraine and Selena (all names the comments were posted under) are just extremely excited about going to see The Hunger Games and Twilight with all their girls. I know I am!