He is not here. He has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
In the year since I began covering film in the Madison area, Sundance Cinemas Madison’s Twitter presence (@sundancemadison) has been a sorry state of affairs. Infrequent posts, questionable direction, and a lack of engagement all defined a management of social media that was a borderline “small fix” candidate all on its own, all while the real deals accomplished more with less. And when your outlet is regarded as the city’s premiere venue for cinema, that marketing gap unquestionably rubs away some of the “boutique” polish.
Take this past year’s Wisconsin Film Festival. The festival folks behind the “official” feed do a stand-up job on all of that stuff above but Sundance, which played host to a significant chunk of this year’s programming, may as well have posted their Twitter password and let the hounds have at it.
The account tweeted just three times in March, the last of which (March 19) featured the iMDb page for Stranger By The Lake. Afterward, nary a tweet was sent, save one promotional salvo on April 4:
Never mind that whenever I’m at Sundance, the fabled “Bistro’s” lights are off and there isn’t a steak hoagie in sight. Sundance’s foodie tweet was just plain weird, breaking a two-week clause of silence to promote beef and two pieces of bread. April 4 also happened to be the second day of the Wisconsin Film Festival and its first full day of programming. That meant not one, not two, but three separate Sundance screens had festival films dedicated to them.
There’s nothing wrong with cross-promoting menu items during what’s surely your busiest week of the year, however the gourmet sandwich marketing felt like a vestigial appendage rather than a part of an already slender social media corpus. There wasn’t even an effort to include a hashtag and add to the stream of #wifilmfest tweets already in motion, though perhaps that was too high an expectation.
Following Hoagie-gate, Sundance wouldn’t tweet for the rest of the festival. Then the rest of the month. Before long, the theater’s sorry social media presence seemed to be dead and buried for good with @HilldaleMadison absorbing any promotional slack in the post-mortem.
And then last Tuesday, something happened:
The sudden outburst of jubilance didn’t seem possible. Or maybe it was the refreshing self-awareness. “3 months off?” Were they taking a break? What was going on? I wanted an answer. Others just wanted a definition of “Twitter World.”
Since the revelation, Sundance Twitter has been, well, anything but the Sundance Twitter of old. The following day, Sundance tweeted about a soundtrack giveaway:
Later that Wednesday, Sundance headed off questions about acquiring prints of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood:
Not only was this neo-sentience anticipating questions, it was thanking followers for their patience.
Last Thursday, Sundance pimped out Monty Python and the Holy Grail by emphasizing picture quality:
review radio plug for Wish I Was Here:
On Friday, Sundance whitewashed some of its former myopia by confirming that whomever is behind the account can, at the very least, see outside the confines of the cineplex:
However low the bar, acknowledgement of reality is a plus. Movie brats are still up for debate.
On Sunday, Sundance invited actual social engagement, though it seems their 556 followers remain hesitant to believe the increased activity isn’t part of some elaborate marketing gimmick for Wollersheim:
Earlier this week, Sundance even took to Twitter to update followers on ticket availability:
While the 7:15 wasn’t exactly “sold out” at the time of this writing, most of the good seats had already been reserved. And who couldn’t get behind sell-out updates? And Zach Braff soundtracks be damned, who couldn’t get behind new Sundance Twitter?
I’m usually first in line to call out Sundance Cinemas Madison. Regardless of the control they have over their Wednesday “Classics” packages, vast and tumultuous seas of talent lie between The Godfather Pt. II and Pretty Woman, and registration for their rewards program might as well require the use of a telegraph — actually cashing in on those rewards points seems like a pipe dream. Certainly preferable to out of order bathrooms or not being able to drink beer, Sundance’s stale social media presence felt like the digital gravestone for the venue’s promotion, an eyesore collecting dust and disdain as weeks of inactivity rolled on. A Twitter makeover, however small and petty, is change.
University sneak peeks notwithstanding, Sundance at Hilldale is Madison’s only stop for arthouse and foreign films, like it or not — and I very much wish to like it. However late, Sundance Twitter is a premiere venue beginning to act like a premiere venue, and judging by at least one response, I’d say it’s a change that might stick around.
Now how many hoagies do I have to buy to fund a site redesign?