Social Media content on MediaShift is sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, a program offering innovative and entrepreneurial journalists the resources of Stanford University and Silicon Valley. Learn more here.

From Pandora to Palo Alto, digital and social media grabbed movie headlines in 2010.

The year started with a box office record-breaker that captured our 3D imaginations (“Avatar”) and is ending with David Fincher’s fascinating look at Facebook (“The Social Network”) collecting awards for film of the year (American Film Institute, Los Angeles Film Critics, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, et al). Although, according to Facebook (Top Status Trends of the Year), the most talked about films among its members were actually “Toy Story 3” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” The latter was also the most watched trailer on YouTube this year with 17 million views.

When it came to Twitter, the dream merchants of “Inception” produced a summer blockbuster and the top film-related Twitter trend this year.


As an overall trend, however, moviegoers continue to explore different platforms to experience films, from streaming and downloading to apps or social networks. As a result, they are disrupting traditional models of distribution and revenue sources (see Blockbuster Files for Bankruptcy After Online Rivals Gain, a report from Bloomberg, for example).

I asked several filmmakers and digital executives for their thoughts on the biggest trends, behavioral shifts and technology developments of 2010. Below are their responses.

Film Trends of 2010

Opening Friday Reviews
“Mobile apps and social media came into their own this year, as one of the most important ways by which moviegoers share their opinions, read reviews and decide which movies they’re going to see … Moviegoers relay their opinions to millions of other people the minute they leave the theater. Opening weekend used to forecast box office — now, it’s opening Friday.” — Steve Polsky, president and COO, Flixster, whose app is used by more than 23 million people


Multi-Platform Viewing
“Consumer demand for anytime, anywhere access to movies means it’s not just about watching in theaters and on television in living rooms, but also about watching on computers and mobile devices like iPads and iPhones. This was the biggest transformation of the movie industry in 2010. Studios are realizing that they need to reach consumers on their terms and that we have an opportunity to reach more people if we embrace what consumers want. The demand for entertaining movies has never been higher; people are watching them in new ways and Hollywood continues to tell stories that captivate audiences around the world.” — Mark Greenberg, president and CEO, EPIX

Internet-connected HDTVs
“Although 3D has been the hot topic this year and received most of the press, I believe the real story was the quiet rollout of consumer HDTVs with Internet capability. Over the last year, I have been testing this exciting new delivery method and have discovered that it is a viable alternative to traditional broadcast to the home. If you understand the power of social networking and direct marketing, it becomes obvious the worldwide potential of this exciting new opportunity.” — Randall P. Dark, president and CEO, Randall Dark Productions


Streaming Content
“The greatest trend in 2010 was the growth of viewers watching movies and TV over web-enabled streaming devices. Of course, Netflix is leading the charge in streaming content, but other players will emerge in 2011 and I think digital historians will look back on 2010 as the year the streaming wars began and DVD started to assume its place alongside the cassette tape and laser disc.” — Richard Raddon, co-founder, Movieclips.com

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“Continuing the trend towards the democratization of filmmaking that began when affordable cameras and editing equipment became available in the past 15 years or so, crowdfunding has opened up new avenues for film financing. IndieGoGo.com and Kickstarter.com offer a simple interface through which fans and investors can help fund film and media projects that often would not meet traditional financing requirements. This revolution enables independent artists to not only get the financial support they need to complete their projects, but also to build a fan base that can later become essential to the marketing and distribution of the project.” — Academy Award-nominated director Roko Belic, Wadi Rum Films (Happy – The Movie)

2011: Transformative Innovations?

With “The Social Network” an early favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture, 2010 may end up being remembered as the year when our web-connected way of life finally reached a tipping point on the big scren. As Sean Parker stated in the film, “We lived in farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re gonna live on the Internet.”

The release of “Tron: Legacy” furthers this theme for 2010, giving moviegoers a new digitally immersive experience, while also spurring conversation on the future of our virtual existence and networked worlds. 2011 is sure to expand upon the trends above and quite possibly introduce some transformative innovations.

Or as Kevin Flynn states, “Now, I kept dreaming…dreaming of this world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, something happened. Something extraordinary.”


What do you think were the extraordinary innovations and trends of 2010? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and Web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.


Social Media content on MediaShift is sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, a program offering innovative and entrepreneurial journalists the resources of Stanford University and Silicon Valley. Learn more here.