Normally when people tweet during a movie, it’s annoying. Sometimes, though, it’s record breaking.
In a blog post, Twitter reports that it set a new record for the number of tweets in a single second on Aug. 2 at 10:21:50 a.m. Eastern Time, also known as 11:21:50 p.m. Japan Standard Time, which is exactly when Hayao Miyazaki’s animated classic Castle in the Sky was airing on Japanese television.
It’s become a tradition in Japan that when the film airs, people tweet the word “Balse!” in sync with one of the film’s characters during a particularly exciting scene. (Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the word refers to a spell being cast.) During the August 3rd screening of the film, 143,199 tweets per second were sent out. Not only is that figure a testament to the enduring power of the 1986 Studio Ghibli anime classic, but also to the exponential growth of Twitter. Back in 2011, the same so-called “Balse Fest” resulted in 11,349 tweets-per-second, which broke the record set by Beyoncé’s announcement that was pregnant during the MTV VMAs, which clocked in a now seemingly paltry 8,868 tweets-per-second in August of 2011.
Twitter took to its blog to mark the occasion and to point out that the social network handled the spike without resorting to a fail whale, something the company had not managed during the 2010 soccer (or football, if you prefer) World Cup. As fans tried to tweet their opinions after each goal and penalty kick, the global tweets took their toll on the social network making Twitter unavailable for periods of time during the game. According to Twitter’s blog, the company learned its lessons well and restructured the site to withstand Tweet storms, stemming from sporting events, celebrity birth announcements and future airings of Castle in the Sky.