As social media continues to impact film industry, movie theaters deal with ups and downs of trending crazes

Tiktoks by @mr_lean777, @sebjohn1904, @_____pan. (Screenshots by SFMN)

Social media culture has been growing for years, and now more than ever, it is allowing marketing efforts to expand past the professional realm and into the hands of the public.

Domestic theaters have been waiting for families to come back from the pandemic, as animated movies have been underperforming. But that trend may be changing.

While “Lightyear” opened with disappointing numbers for Disney, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” rose above that and opened to a record-breaking weekend. In fact, taking advantage of the July 4 holiday, the film earned an estimated $125 million in its debut weekend. According to CNN, “Minions” topped the previous record held by “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which made $115 million in 2011.

The sudden change may simply come down to social media. A new trend, in fact, on TikTok has influenced teens to watch the new “Minions” film dressed entirely in suits in theaters. It’s called #GentleMinions and it appears to be working. According to PostTrak, 34 percent of the opening weekend audience was between ages 13 and 17. And the “Minions” official TikTok page even got in on the craze after the film’s release, endorsing this new trend.

As films start to market themselves across many platforms, they continue to use social media in different ways and there’s no better film to do so than with one geared towards a younger audience. From creating filters or backgrounds to increase interest in fans, films are actually relying on their fans to circulate more than the official content. Movies like “The Batman” or “Spider-Man: No Way Home” have memes created about them after their releases which were huge on their own. Now “Minions” was able to capitalize on the memes before the release.

While this seems to be working to advertise for movies it does come with some downsides. The #GentleMinions trend has created trouble for some theaters. According to Newsweek theaters are outright banning teens in suits as some have started to create havoc, starting mosh pits or screaming and yelling during showings.

Another film where the social media buzz didn’t go well is “Morbius,” released earlier this year. After the initial box-office flop, and poor reviews, many memes were created to make fun of the movie. Executives mistook this Internet engagement with a want to watch the movie again after its initial release, but when the movie was re-released it made only $86,000.

Social media seems to have its pros and cons when marketing takes on a life of its own. While creating marketing that can easily be used by fans to make jokes and further the reach of a film it can be manipulated by people on the internet who want to post only to make fun of a film instead of having fun with them.

Christopher Rodriguez was born and raised in Miami and is a Digital journalism major and a senior at FIU. Rodriguez loves film and entertainment in Miami and hopes to pursue those passions through journalism.