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Bruno and Dumbledore share more than just a big screen presence this weekend.
The two big-screen figures are subjects of separate Twitter campaigns that suggest tweets are playing a role in the summer blockbuster movie season.
"Bruno," last weekend's box office champ with a $30.4 million take, suffered a nearly 40 percent drop off from Friday to Saturday. That has led some – including Time magazine – to blame negative Twittering for at least part of the steep decline.
"Bruno," to be sure, is among Twitter’s "trending topics," with posts ranging from reviews – some love it, others say it's no "Borat" – to debates over whether the satire of homophobia actually reinforces negative gay stereotypes.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore is getting a decidedly more positive Twitter treatment as "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" hits theaters Wednesday.
A group called The Harry Potter Alliance, Mashable reports, is planning a Twitter “takeover” by flooding the microblogging service with Dumbledore tributes, using the so-called hashtag function that groups related posts. Fans are being encouraged to include the hashtag “#dumbledore” in all tweets as a homage to Harry Potter’s mentor, whose fate figures greatly in the film series’ sixth installment.
The purpose of the campaign, the organizers say, is to “stay loyal to the spirit of Albus Dumbledore so that he lives on in us.
“In this way we can carry on his lessons on the importance of laughter and playfulness, working for equality, speaking up about the real issues, allowing oneself to grieve, to trust, and most of all to acknowledge love as the only rational act.”
The Bruno and Dumbledore tweets are among the latest displays of the power and speed of Twitter, which has been seen in other forms, ranging from seemingly endless discussions of Michael Jackson’s death to real-time reports from the streets of Tehran.
The movie studio chiefs are, no doubt, alternately shuddering and salivating at the perceived influence of Twitter to make or break movies by taking word-of-mouth to warp speed.
In addition to Twittering instant reviews, movie fans are showing they're not shy about otherwise exerting their power, even if they’re only spreading a harmless Internet meme aimed at saluting a beloved character.
All of this is fine – just as long as it doesn’t promote an annoying trend of Twittering during movies. The only handheld devices that should be glowing during “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” are the on-screen wizards’ wands.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.