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.
“No Good Deed,” Sony
After the worst weekend in almost two decades, this week’s releases are looking perkier at the box office, with both new movies set to open solidly. Yet it’s tough to call which will make it out on top, with none of the new releases opening over $20 million.
“No Good Deed” is a psychological thriller with horror-esque home invasion elements and the campaign has focused on leading man Idris Elba – sure to send female hearts fluttering and men scuttling back to the chest press – and leading lady Taraji P. Henson. This pairing should catch the attention of urban audiences, who were similarly targeted by “Baggage Claim”, which opened to a surprisingly strong $9 million. “No Good Deed” has delivered twice the trailer views and search volume of “Baggage Claim”, with over 6 million trailers watched compared to just under 3 for the airborne comedy.
A Twitter game “#TweetToEscape” has helped drive a healthy tweet total around 100,000, with users taking on the role of the victim in the movie and choosing which path they would take in her shoes — let Idris in, or slam the door in his face? Search volume is comparatively low at 30,700, but movies with urban audiences often perform poorly on search so this isn’t unprecedented.
While “No Good Deed” has elements of different genres and could appeal to different audiences, “Prisoners” and “The Call” serve as suitable proxies. These movies opened to $20.8 million and $17.1 million, respectively and comparing the social stats suggests “No Good Deed” will begin with between $16 million and $17 million this weekend. “No Good Deed” also is ahead of both on Facebook fans and trailer views, but falls behind on searches. This is likely due to both “Prisoners” and “The Call” enjoying more appeal with older audiences.
Two factors could contribute to the movie coming in slightly below this prediction: 1. The past few weeks have seen movies coming in around 15% below what we’d expect from analyzing the social data as Hollywood endures a rough patch. 2. Horror movies with twist endings often drop off fast, and with “No Good Deed” being held back from critics to protect the sting in the tale, this could lead to the movie starting well but trailing off by Sunday and winding up with $12 million to $13 million.
Final Expectations: “No Good Deed” should force its way to a $15-16 million opening.
“Dolphin Tale 2,” Warner Bros.
“Dolphin Tale 2” should have a more leisurely time of it this weekend thanks to having an existing fan base to build on and little competition for family audiences in theaters. The original movie was a solid hit after opening with $19 million, although the sequel will be hard pressed to match that, prosthetic tail and all.
The marketing has concentrated on reaching out to families, parents and school kids alike with features such as this tie-in with Home School Movie Club. There is also appeal to hispanic movies goers with tweets in spanish or appealing to spanish speaking audiences.
“Heaven Is For Real” opened to $15 million this year and its inspiring, family friendly feel strikes the same chord as “Dolphin Tale 2,” with both movies performing identically on Twitter and search, with 31,000 tweets and around 20,000 searches each. Stacking “Dolphin Tale 2” up against other family sequels from the past few years also suggests it will make a total in the mid-teens: “Dolphin Tale 2” is averaging about half the social activity of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” which opened to $34 million, and similarly measuring it against “How To Train Your Dragon 2” would suggest a total slightly between $13 million and $16 million.
Final Expectations: “Dolphin Tale 2” will swim off strong with around $16 million.
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.