It’s no secret that social media has a large pull in today’s society. Being “Instagram-famous” is now just as impressive (or even more so) than fame based on talent. The film industry, often praised for starting trends, is now following the crowd especially when it comes to casting by hiring actors based off of their social media presence.
From a marketing stand-point this is a great idea because you already have a portion of your marketing covered without paying extra. Actress, Emma Thompson, told the Telegraph, “We’re casting actors who’ve got big followings because they’ve got big followings.” Simply having your actor(s) post promotional pictures on their accounts will already lure in their fans; the more fans they have, the more of the market is reached and the less you need to spend on marketing.
However, does this take away from talent? If casting directors only look at a figure’s online following and influence, they are neglecting the integral part of film-making: the talent of the actor. This can be seen in model/actor Cara Delevingne, who’s films have brought an audience, but her acting, to put nicely, could use work. With her nearly 34 million Instagram followers, it’s no wonder she’s desirable among filmmakers. If she posts one photo on the social media app, that’s 34 million people that the film is advertised to without paying anymore than the actor’s salary!
The question of quality comes in to play here, though. Yes, Delevingne draws an audience, but she’s not bringing Oscar-buzz to any of the films that she’s appeared in. Looking at her reviews on RottenTomatoes, we see that her films all received a less than 50% rating. Take Suicide Squad, probably one of the most anticipated movies of 2016 and then it completely flopped. But despite its rating of 26% it managed to generate a revenue of $313.8 million exemplifying that those with a social media following can bring in the money, even if it’s not a good-quality work. Going back to a business standpoint, though, this would be considered a success because the film was able to draw in a large revenue despite poor reviews because of the loyalty of Delevingne’s (and her co-stars’) followers. With the numerous Instagram posts and twitter promotions the stars were able to rally their followers enough to gain profit from the film, even if the critics hated it.
The problem with relying on social media is we lose variety; the industry will be full of the same old faces over and over again and eventually the audience will get tired and bored. Furthermore, how do we find new talent? Jennifer Lawrence came into the scene (pun unintended, but works) and no one had ever heard of her before. She showed her acting chops and became one of the most well-known actresses over the past five years.
Overall, the film industry is a business and so filmmakers are going to do anything they can to ensure that they will make a profit for their work. Since social media allows celebrities to connect with their fans and audience, it’s in the interest of good business for casting directors to use an actor’s following to their advantage. Does this mean that the next great actor will come from Instagram? Probably not…but they could be promoted and found through it.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia