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How Twitter Feels about Our Favorite Fall Movies

There’s nothing quite like staying in for a movie. Especially as the warm weather of the Summer fades, there’s just something special about watching a cozy movie from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re snuggled up with a cup of tea, or just returning to one of your familiar favorites, there’s a special quality to watching a movie in Autumn.

We at Quilt aren’t the only ones who feel this way. As Summer 2022 comes to a close, people are looking for a good movie to welcome the Fall season:

It makes sense that people are looking online for their Fall movies. The rise of streaming over the past decade has made it possible to watch almost any film you want at any time. You don’t have to be limited by what’s in theaters or at your local Blockbuster. Anything you can search, you can probably find.

That said, the media landscape is in flux. To the dismay of fans everywhere, HBO Max recently cut dozens of titles from their streaming platform with little-to-no warning. It was a move meant to cut costs from a bloated inventory and save money through tax write-offs, but it foretells some larger trends within streaming.

Investors are starting to look for concrete returns from streamers, but between Peacock, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Netflix, Paramount+, and Hulu — just to mention a few — experts believe that there is too much competition in the streaming space.

As a result, streaming companies are looking for ways to turn their platforms into profits. Some are raising prices or tinkering with subscription models. Mergers and consolidation aren’t out of the question either: HBO and Discover+ recently merged, and there are rumors that Hulu will one day be fully cannibalized by its majority owner, Disney.

Above all else though, there is a need to focus on content that resonates with consumers.

Which brings us back to Fall movies. People are looking for films to watch this Autumn, so here at Quilt, we decided to find out what titles are getting the most buzz online. We used Google search data to pick out three Fall classics that stood out from the pack. Using data from Twitter, our culture AI provided a bit of insight into how these films strike a chord with viewers, and what they show about modern audiences.

Here are our results:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

(August Search Volume: 823000 | Growth: 82.8%, +373000)

The Nightmare Before Christmas is without peers. Tim Burton’s distinctive vision for a Halloween-Christmas-horror-family-musical has simply never been replicated, or even imitated, with any success. It bends genres and holidays in a way that makes it incomparable and perhaps even a bit frightening, but wholly unique in the realm of animation.

Back when it was released in 1993, Disney was afraid to attach its name to the title. The film was dark and eccentric, and nobody could be sure if the gory character designs wouldn’t frighten audiences — children and parents alike. To their surprise, The Nightmare Before Christmas was a box office success, and went on to become a cult classic.

Now, nearly 30 years on, people are still buzzing about the movie. It has become a yearly ritual for audiences to come back to The Nightmare Before Christmas ahead of the Halloween and Christmas holidays:

By now, some of the children who watched this movie when it was released are introducing it to their own kids. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a multigenerational hit that shows no signs of slowing. Something about the film’s ability to challenge the notion that darkness or ugliness are inherently bad, or perhaps its unique blend of holiday fun and fright, still resonates with viewers today.

As a result, there is no shortage of praise for the movie on Twitter:

People love this movie. It inspires overwhelming joy in most Twitter users, but also leaves a bittersweet flavor in the mouths of some viewers.

Sometimes it can be a bit sad to revisit an old classic that pulls on the heartstrings like this one. But many of these tweets our AI identified as reflecting sadness emphasized how disappointing it would be to miss out on this film:

Our Twitter data shows that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a beloved, nostalgic film. But that’s not the only reason it’s still in the public consciousness every year.

This dark Disney classic is an example of a property that gets free advertising off of the screen. It was the only film we examined that had a significant presence on the shopping section of Twitter:

That’s because merch from The Nightmare Before Christmas is everywhere. From advent calendars to card games to Manga comics, this movie has become a brand in its own right. But it’s not just companies selling their wares on Twitter; users are all over the platform talking about the Nightmare Before Christmas products they are most excited about:

This movie was clearly a financial success far beyond what its box office numbers imply — it spawned a worldwide phenomenon of toys, clothes, and memorabilia, after all.

But The Nightmare Before Christmas also serves as an example of the two-way relationship between merchandise and movie. All of the thousands of tweets about this movie’s licensed products also reflect thousands of fans that will come back to the film year after year. If you want to pick a winner in the streaming space, a movie with a merchandising empire isn’t a bad bet.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

(August Search Volume: 110000 | Growth: 81.8%, +49500)

From a musical merchandising juggernaut, we move on to a sleeper horror hit in Trick ‘r Treat. Fall is the Halloween season, which means that horror movies start to flourish when Summer comes to an end. However, of all the hundreds of horror titles that fans have to choose from, this 2007 direct-to-DVD title rises above the rest, showing the highest percentage growth going into Autumn.

Maybe it’s because Trick ‘r Treat is the most happily and positively received movie we examined:

This movie just inspires joy in its fans. It prioritizes fun above all else, ditching the conventional format in favor of an anthology — four independent stories, playful quick hitters united only by a creepy little Trick-or-treater and some R-rated Halloween fun.

That’s what Trick ‘r Treat is really about: the Halloween holiday. There are plenty of horror movies that take place on Halloween night, and there are thousands more that feature ghosts, ghouls, and monsters. There’s even an iconic horror franchise aptly titled “Halloween”.

No film really captures the Halloween spirit like this one, though. There’s candy, mischievous teenagers, and Jack-o-lanterns (of course). But these symbols are also turned on their heads: the candy is poisoned, the teenagers are werewolves, and the Jack-O-Lanterns appear to foretell a vengeful spirit. Children aren’t just running from monsters — they become the monsters themselves.

Simply put, it’s over-the-top fun that relentlessly plays on the holiday traditions of Halloween night.

On that note, users often cite the film as more than just a fun flick to watch as the Halloween season gets closer, but a legitimate holiday tradition in its own right:

Other data we found supports the assertion that Trick ‘r Treat is perhaps the most “Halloweeny” movie you can watch:

Trick ‘r Treat will forever be entangled with the holiday that it chronicles. This is a movie that went straight to DVD, yet it has become so intertwined with Halloween that it is still searched about and watched fifteen years later — so much so that it’s seeing theaters for the first time this fall. The movie stands as a testament to the staying power a holiday can bring a movie, and the popularity that unconventional narratives can achieve for a small, dedicated audience.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

(August Search Volume: 550000 | Growth: 22.2%, +100000)

In an abrupt change of pace, our third and final entry on this list is a tragic coming-of-age drama. Dead Poets Society isn’t as closely associated with holidays as the previous two films we examined, yet it sees comparable buzz ahead of the Fall season. It’s not a family adventure or an exciting horror, nor is it really an appealing story to all age groups.

Yet just like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Trick ‘r Treat, people flock to Dead Poets Society as soon as the leaves begin to change.

Perhaps that’s because the film reflects a different kind of impulse people seek out in Autumn. The weather is getting darker and colder. The days are getting shorter and the sweaters are going on. Sometimes, our moods aren’t much warmer or brighter. There is a bit of melancholy in the air, and people want that reflected in what they watch.

That’s why Dead Poets Society can be a part of this list despite nearly 30% of all tweets reflecting how sad the film is.

For those keeping track, that’s almost twice as many sad tweets as a nostalgic favorite like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Some of these tweets recount the film’s heart-wrenching plot (which we won’t spoil here). Many others point out the strange status this film has as both a tragedy and a comfort film.

What these tweets allude to is Dead Poets Society’s particular place in many people’s watch cycles. It’s a movie that audiences come back to when they need a pick-me-up. Even though it has tragic elements, people feel seen by the film’s messaging. It acknowledges how unfair the world can be, while empowering us to seize the day and live our lives to the fullest.

In truth, the movie walks a fine line between sadness and comfort, but that line is inviting to thousands of fans:

There’s nothing that says you have to watch a melancholy movie like this one in the Fall. Yet people clearly start buzzing about the film as the leaves begin to change. Maybe it’s the movie’s setting — taking place at a small prep school during a brisk New England Autumn.

More likely, it’s just the somber mood that Fall brings.

Trends like “Sad Girl Autumn” show us that people want to share and legitimize their more troubling feelings this Fall. That’s exactly what a movie like Dead Poets Society allows us to do. The film showcases the immense power that empathy still carries in the media space. It’s a perfect example of a film that has become a seasonal favorite without capitalizing on a holiday season or developing an aesthetic culture off of the screen.

Instead, it simply helps people feel what they need to feel this time of year.

Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest consumer trends.

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