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the anticipation index

Is Print Dead? The Anticipation Index Doesn’t Think So

Jessica Chastain in The Debt.

There are people in this world who are convinced that print media is a dying, decrepit industry. Of course, we might be biased, but we disagree, and this time, we have facts to back us up: our Anticipation Index, which measures Twitter and blog traffic to track and rank, in close to real time, what upcoming movies, TV shows, books, and music are getting buzzed about in the entertainment world.

As usual, last weekend the country’s major newspaper arts and entertainment sections did their share of profiles and features. The New York Times did one on Steven Soderbergh; the Los Angeles Times looked at Jonah Hill’s new upcoming animated Fox show Allen Gregory; both the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times profiled Jessica Chastain; The New York Times Magazine looked at Helen Mirren for The Debt, Morgan Freeman for A Dolphin's Tale, and had a feature on Aline Brosh McKenna, the screenwriter of I Don’t Know How She Does It; and, finally, The New Yorker ran a short story excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. As a result, most — but not all — of the subjects' projects saw a corresponding rise on the Index. By Monday, The Debt (which opened Wednesday, starring both Mirren and Chastain) was up to 22 from 42 the day before; Soderbergh's Contagion (opening September 9) reached 16 on Sunday before dropping to 33 on Monday; How She Does It (in theaters September 16) was up to 41 from 90; Texas Killing Fields (another Chastain vehicle, out October 7) had risen to 64 from 86. The most surprising and significant bump, however, was to Murakami’s book (in stores October 25), which rose 214 spots, from 233 to 19, in 24 hours.

Though Chastain's had a number of major movies out already this year (Tree of Life, The Help, and more to come), her name is just starting to mean something to mainstream audiences. Thanks to The Help, readers can put a face (and a movie) to her name, which means she's now able to build buzz for her projects, a reversal from earlier this year, when her projects were building buzz for her.

Neither Hill's Allen Gregory nor Freeman's A Dolphin's Tale saw much of a bump, with neither cracking the overall top 100. (Dolphin’s Tale is currently sitting at 79 among movies, and Gregory at 73 among TV shows.) This is likely because there's been little advance marketing for Allen Gregory, which premieres October 30; there's been much more awareness of Hill's pre-weight-loss comedy, The Sitter, which doesn't open until December, because of its red-band trailers. And A Dolphin's Tale (in theaters September 23) is a squeaky-clean family movie, which is not the kind of genre that gets people a-tweeting unless it's Pixar. I Don’t Know How She Does It gained more than either Gregory or A Dolphin's Tale, but it too has limited AI appeal as a genre movie targeted primarily to women (not to mention, it has an ungainly title that’s difficult to tweet). But at least the film’s marketing campaign has also picked up lately, priming the ground for the sort of complimentary and complementary coverage doled out to it by the magazine.

As usual, last weekend the country’s major newspaper arts and entertainment sections did their share of profiles and features. The New York Times did one on Steven Soderbergh; the Los Angeles Times looked at Jonah Hill’s new upcoming animated Fox show Allen Gregory; both the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times profiled Jessica Chastain; The New York Times Magazine looked at Helen Mirren for The Debt, Morgan Freeman for A Dolphin's Tale, and had a feature on Aline Brosh McKenna, the screenwriter of I Don’t Know How She Does It; and, finally, The New Yorker ran a short story excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. As a result, most — but not all — of the subjects' projects saw a corresponding rise on the Index. By Monday, The Debt (which opened Wednesday, starring both Mirren and Chastain) was up to 22 from 42 the day before; Soderbergh's Contagion (opening September 9) reached 16 on Sunday before dropping to 33 on Monday; How She Does It (in theaters September 16) was up to 41 from 90; Texas Killing Fields (another Chastain vehicle, out October 7) had risen to 64 from 86. The most surprising and significant bump, however, was to Murakami’s book (in stores October 25), which rose 214 spots, from 233 to 19, in 24 hours.

Photo: Miramax