Does digital data offer indicators that can be used to monitor marketing effectiveness and predict box office success even before awareness turns into intent? We analyzed this weekend’s new movies across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google (the methodology behind the numbers is laid out in the appendix below) over the seven days leading up to their release, when marketing campaigns should be at their peak.
“If I Stay,” New Line, MGM
“If I Stay” is the latest YA movie to target the teen and tween set, following in the footsteps of “The Fault In Our Stars” and “Divergent.” While topping those two social sensations would be a huge challenge, the movie does come with a fervent fan base comprising mainly of young women who are set to propel another teen favorite to number one.
The passion of the fanbase is shown by the engagement across different platforms, with 69% PTAT on Facebook, 0.80% Buzz on YouTube and over 50% retweet rate on Twitter. The respective 4 million and 1 million fan counts of “TFIOS” and “Divergent” on Facebook were exceptionally high, but “If I Stay” has almost twice as many fans as last week’s “The Giver” with 375,000 — and only 12% PTAT.
The campaign is geared to appeal to young women and “If I Stay” used tumblr, where women are particularly active, as the official site for the movie. The campaign has been similar in tone to “TFIOS”, and a lot of focus has been put on the fans and their relationship to the material. “If I Stay” has encouraged fans to share photos using the hashtag #BestDay and then compiled videos of them, introduced by lead Chloe Grace Moretz. Along with co-star Jamie Blackley she has also taken part in Twitter Q&As, driving 342,000 release week tweets.
The 0.81% positive Buzz score on YouTube is way above average and especially important as “If I Stay” has a modest 11.8 million views, where “TFIOS” and “Divergent” had 40 and 30 million each, and “The Giver” had 13.6 million last week; however it had only 0.30% Buzz, suggesting a number of those views were bought.
“If I Stay” is most impressive on Instagram, where it has gathered 164,000 followers, more than the 134,000 of “TFIOS” and 156,000 of “Divergent” before release, making it the largest Instagram community for a movie before it has even come out in theaters. This demonstrates the popularity of the title among young women who are particularly active on Instagram and the enthusiasm of the fans to build such a large community on a platform where movies can struggle — “The Giver” managed less than 1,000 fans before release.
However, this can’t be taken as an indication that “If I Stay” will also be making over $50 million this weekend. Search volume at 57,600 is relatively low compared to the 132,000 and 151,000 of “TFIOS” and “Divergent,” suggesting they generated more interest among older audiences, while it seems “If I Stay” is primarily interesting younger moviegoers. “If I Stay” looks set to well outstrip “The Giver’s” $12.3 million and top $20 million this weekend.
Final Expectations: “If I Stay” will get all the #feels and all the money this weekend, coming in with over $20 million.
“Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,” Miramax
“A Dame to Kill For” is the long-awaited sequel to 2005’s cult hit “Sin City,” which sees director Robert Rodriguez and creator Frank Miller as well as a large part of the cast reunite. Marketing has strongly played up the cast and the striking visuals of the movie, especially on the stylish tumblr. While the first movie proved very popular, how will the sequel and its cartoonish-noir aesthetic fare almost a decade down the line?
“300” and its sequel “300: Rise of An Empire” faced a similar situation, with an established but older fanbase, seven years in between installments and some different cast members, before opening with $45 million — a good total but far removed from the original’s impressive $71 million. A similar drop would see “Dame” making around $18 million.
Like “Kick-Ass 2,” “Dame” is appealing to a younger male audience, with clips exclusively released with askmen. Also the great Eva Green poster controversy won’t have done any harm at all in garnering their interest. You’d also expect some older males who enjoyed the first movie to turn out again as well, although while “Dame” demonstrates much stronger awareness on YouTube than “Kick-Ass 2” with around 20 million views to 3.7 million, a lower search value of 105,000 to “Kick-Ass 2”’s 187,000 suggest the older audience isn’t as engaged. These factors balance against each other suggesting “Dame” will make somewhere around the $13.3 million total of “Kick-Ass 2”’s opening weekend, coming in with around $15-16 million.
Final Expectations: “A Dame to Kill For” will shoot and brawl its way to a mid-teens total.
“When The Game Stands Tall,”Sony
“When the Game Stands Tall” is a faith-based football movie telling the true story of a high-school football teams 151-game winning streak. Although the marketing has played up the moral and inspirational elements to the story, it feels more “Friday Night Lights” than “Heaven is For Real,” and has such has received endorsements from sports personalities and football players on Twitter and YouTube. Actor Clancy Brown also took to Reddit for an AMA.
Earlier this year “Draft Day” opened to $9.7 million with similar social numbers. Both movies have modest Facebook audiences with “WTGST” ahead at 198,000 to 79,000, but a lower PTAT than “Draft Day’s” 86%, suggesting a similar number of users are engaging with content. “WTGST” is just ahead on YouTube with 3.77 million views to 3.45 million, and both movies share similar search values with 34,000 to “Draft Day’s” 41,000. Both movies’ box office totals are likely to be very similar, but as “Draft Day” is ahead on Twitter with 100,000 release week Tweets “WTGST” will likely fall just short of that $9.7 million total.
Final Expectations: “When The Game Stands Tall” will take $8-9 million behind a solid social offensive line.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of http://www.moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 15 million Facebook fans and 7 million monthly unique users. Based on community data, Moviepilot helps studios to optimize their social media campaigns, identifying, analyzing and activating the right audiences. The company works with studios like Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and FilmDistrict.
Facebook fan (or like) numbers are a good indicator for fan awareness for a movie, even months before the release. For mainstream movies with younger target audiences, fan counts are particularly important. However, big fan numbers can be bought and movies with older target audiences typically have lower fan counts. Fan engagement measured by PTAT (People Talking About This) is a more precise but also a fickle indicator, heavily driven by content strategy and media spending. Both numbers are global and public facing numbers from the official Facebook fanpage.
YouTube trailer counts are important for measuring early awareness about a movie. We track all English language original video content about the movie on YouTube, down to videos with 100 views, whether they are officially published by a studio or published unofficially by fans. The Buzz ratio looks at the percentage of unique viewers on YouTube that have “liked” a video and given it a “thumbs up”. Movies with over 40 million views are usually mainstream and set to dominate the box office, while titles drawing 10 million to 20 million views indicate a more specific audience. If a movie does not have a solid number of trailer views on YouTube four weeks before its release, it is not promising news. But again, it is important to understand whether trailer views have been bought or grew organically. These numbers are global and public facing.
Twitter is a good real-time indicator of excitement and word of mouth, coming closer to release or following bigger PR stunts. Mainstream, comedy and horror titles all perform particularly strongly on Twitter around release. We count all tweets over the period of the last seven days before release (Friday through Thursday), that include the movie’s title plus a number of search words, e.g. “movie” OR a list of movie-specific hashtags. The numbers are global, conducted using a Twitter API partner service.
Search is a solid indicator for intent moving towards release as people actively seek out titles that they are aware of and are thinking about seeing. Search is particularly significant for fan-driven franchises and family titles as parents look for information about films they may take their children to see. We look at the last seven days (Friday through Thursday) of global Wikipedia traffic as a conclusive proxy for Google Search volume. We have to consider that big simultaneous global releases tend to have higher search results compared to domestic releases.