Been mulling this thought for quite a while, and finally decided to throw open the questions to a lot of people. After getting a lot of feedback, i am down to writing this, hoping to get an answer to the captioned question.

Few years ago, when we produced a lot of movies, a buff usually ended up watching a lot of them, and even if the movies weren’t good, they ended up doing good business for the simple reason that so many people went to see the drama that they were being teased with for some days with the advertisement and promotions. Incidentally, the movie reviews in the newspaper also used to be published on Sunday, thus giving a flick enough time to do decent business over the weekend.

Inception at The Fox
Inception, one of the highest grosser globally this year was trending on Twitter for weeks. Image by angad84 via Flickr

But times have since changed. We now produce more movies than you can count through the year, there is fair competition from Hollywood, the movie reviews by a seasoned critic in the newspaper now appears on Friday/Saturday and the other review begins right from the time a show begins anywhere in the country.  This other review is the subject of discussion here, the verdict in this case being pronounced by less seasoned but far more trusted people, whom we also call friends.

The moment a movie releases and people start catching a show, they talk about it, with the people they have seen the movie, with their friends over the phone, with the world  when they post messages on Facebook, twitter, gtalk status messages recommending or bashing up a movie big time(the latter is usually the case, we need good cinema!). So what happens then? The friends read, comment and enter a conversation about the latest movie, possibly getting influenced on whether to catch the movie or not. Now whether or not that happens is the big question, and here are some of the responses to the same as captured via different media.

IIM A pass out Aditi Verma, who is currently working with a telecom company says “I do prefer online reviews of my like-minded friends, mostly on Facebook. Usually they prove correct.  Of the other sources, i don’t check online, just

The Social Network, a movie based on Facebook is running a campaign across online media channels. The 33k recommends are a testimony to the fact.

read newspapers, of which i can say some newspapers seem to be paid for reviews.” Delhi based marketing professional Varun Sharma who works with India’s leading media monitoring agency, Blue Bytes says “People are shifting towards the real-time reviews for which only online tools like twitter,Facebook etc makes relevant sense.” Consultant Chaitali Dave agrees “Yes, there is great influence as online world is an instant, easy to operate, natural, a routine affair and also a part and parcel of our life these days. Movies and their reviews are no exception!”

Most people feel that the online space acts as an all important second endorsement to what they have been listening elsewhere and thus makes an important part in taking the decision. Voices Abhinav Malhotra, “I trust both reviews and

what people say online. I feel that some of the movies this year like Dabangg, Inception, Kites did well or doomed also because of what was said about them on the net”. There are others who feel people see movies based on their personal choices, but friends play a part in building their perception. “I think yes people do get influenced by what their online friends say, but some people go for their personal favourites too.” says Dr Rohinee Motwani, Director, Just for Hearts.Deepika Sethi, HR manager and PR consultant Sweta Mantri concurred with a simple ‘Yes!’.

But when we talk about movies, a lot of people are totally bindaas! and they would only watch what they like whether or not the people, the reviews say favourably or otherwise about them. “The only thing that influences me is when a friend says ” who wants to go to xyz on Thursday night ” and xyz can be a lousy Finnish film or all I care. Otherwise it’s just a random movie going experience, where you show up at a cinema and randomly watch a movie that has tickets available.” came the earnest reply from Yasser Rahman, Director at  Cutch Soft Private Limited. Designer and part-time banker, Neha Jain simply said “I prefer my opinion”. Retorts Varun Patil , Digital Marketing Manager

at Globostay,   “My friends might influence my decision to watch some movies

which might not have caught my eye, but for the biggies, I trust my instinct and go by my mood.”

All in all, there is a clear shift of people ‘noticing’ what their friends and other netizens have to say about a movie. While people do

Dabangg
The fact that Dabangg was trending on twitter ( http://www.twitpic.com/2mzctv ) the day of its release goes on to show Indians are aggressively discussing their movies online. Image via Wikipedia

not seem to be going by just the online word for taking a call on an issue as sensitive as a movie, they definitely seem to be getting affected if not ‘influenced’ leading to a change in perception.  As seasoned communications expert Prathamesh Pathak says “I personally don’t go by reviews online or elsewhere. But it certainly builds a perception and you tend to watch movie with prejudice and then people comment about it. I think that way online reviews can make or break perceptions.”

So how about you? Do your friends influence you when you choose the movies you watch?

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When going for a movie, do your friends influence you?
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