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the anticipation index

Web Chatter Couldn’t Be More Different Over In Time and Anonymous

In Time and Anonymous.

This weekend sees two major openings at the movies: In Time, a futuristic action thriller with Justin Timberlake, and Anonymous, the conspiracy theory about who really wrote Shakespeare's works. All week long the two have run pretty much neck and neck on the Anticipation Index, Vulture's scientific tool for tracking buzz based on Twitter and blog activity, and today they wrap up their run ranked ninth and eleventh, respectively. But it's interesting to see how both have been brought to nearly the same place by two entirely different types of web chatter.

In the case of In Time, nobody's looking for an intellectual argument, they just want to talk about JT. The folks on Twitter, like @ian_adnan here, seem completely uninterested in the movie's premise, writing things like "@jtimberlake Timberlake, I'm going to watch #InTime #InMalaysia because of you." As usual, Timberlake seems to be the focal point of an intense amount of fantasy projection, e.g. @N_Farah: "Yey...tonite will watch my bf justin timberlake on INTIME!!" Tweeter @sarajamaludin89 takes things a step further, even: "Watching 'In Time' with ex hubby, Justin Timberlake. #OkBye!" (Sorry things didn't work out between you guys. Did you at least get your choice of items from the Timberlake fedora collection in the settlement?) Very little else seems to be engaging people about the movie: A viral video of a man cutting a parking meter with a chainsaw got around 500,000 hits earlier this week, but when it was revealed to just be an ad for In Time in a "reveal" video, nobody engaged; that clip only has about 300 views so far: Not the most effective buzz generator.

Meanwhile, over at Anonymous, nobody's talking about star Rhys Ifans, and everyone's talking 'bout Shakespeare. If director Roland Emmerich thought this movie would get up the collective dander of the nation's English majors, then well played! Most of the online buzz has been in response to angry articles about the film's very premise, with many retweets of last week's New York Times Magazine feature by former Shakespeare professor Stephen Marche, in which he wrote, "If you take Anonymous as just a movie, it may not even be that bad. I couldn’t possibly judge, because I was apoplectically stuttering about the inconsistencies." Whether or not people are actually reading all of this stuff is impossible to say, but hey, at least they're talking about it, right? As @Robo_Kop1 says, "Would not mind seeing 'Anonymous' tonight! #Shakespeare." Whether Shakespeare's modern-day devotees agree with the film or not, at least they can be proud that the Bard has finally gotten his own hashtag.

Photo: 20th Century Fox, Columbia TriStar Pictures