Social media word-of-mouth isn’t much of a punchline anymore. Positive reaction from friends is a strong factor in people’s media choices, and with no one to fill the critical void left by Roger Ebert’s death last year, some in the blogosphere have speculated that social media is replacing film critics as the go-to source for information about films.
New studies show that it might be too early to write an obituary for the film critics. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 80 percent of Americans read movie reviews and follow that judgment when deciding what films to see. This is nearly double the number who take cues from social media. That said, Hollywood Reporter‘s breakdown of the same study finds that most of these filmgoers at least use social media, and in the case of the youngest generations, friends are overtaking critics as the most trusted source. In any case, reviews from critics and friends remain more important than in driving viewer opinions than trailers or ads – at least according to a self-reported survey.
We might not have a singular figure anymore whose film criticism is valued throughout the country, but websites like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and MRQE ensure that film reviews are still taken seriously across demographics. It seems we don’t yet need someone to step in where Ebert left off. (Sorry, Gene Shalit.)