Digital Box Office Drilldown: How this week’s wide releases are shaping up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google
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.
Last year’s “The Purge” boasted one of the most notable marketing campaigns of 2013, with impactful billboards and TV spots as well as a slickly executed social campaign emphasizing the movie’s premise: what would happen if all crime were legal for 12 hours? The principle is exactly the same this time around, so how popular will “Anarchy” prove with the public this time around?
While Universal’s “The Purge” was among the mega-horror movies which dominated last summer, no movie has come close to emulating the box office success enjoyed by “The Conjuring” and “Insidious 2” this year. “Anarchy” has the best social stats of any horror movie opening this year, with a large Facebook fan base — which has swelled by 1.4 million since the original movie opened — showing the film has a built-in audience, only beaten by the well-established “Paranormal Activity” franchise. These fans have also turned out in droves for the real-life experience Purge: Breakout Tour.
The highest opening horror film this year has been “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” which took $18 million in January, but “Anarchy” is ahead on every other metric, notably with 23.5 million trailer views. “Anarchy” will certainly be the horror movie with the highest first weekend total this year by Monday morning, but will it beat the $34 million of the original “Purge?”
Social stats suggest it will come close, as “Anarchy” starts with more trailer views but with less positive Buzz, less tweets at 329,000 where the first movie drove over 1 million, but a higher search volume. The large fan base suggests that there’s a good chance the audience for the original will turn out again, so “Anarchy” should get very close to the original’s $34 million total.
Final expectations: “The Purge: Anarchy” is looking good for at least $30 million but may not beat the original’s $34 million.
Where 2013 was packed with horror, 2014 has the R-rated comedy. “22 Jump Street” set the bar with a $57 million opening weekend, which is a high total for any movie to aim for.
But Sony, which also released “22 Jump Street,” is hoping for a repeat with “Sex Tape,” which has been marketed like “Neighbors” to a broad audience of male and females as well as younger viewers and those over 25. “Sex Tape” has a Snapchat account to appeal to younger users, while the Facebook page has featuredtech-assistance videos for older users to avoid embarrassing themselves online as well asmarriage survival tips for couples, as well as native ads onBuzzFeed.
The trailer view count and Buzz is on a par with “The Other Woman,” but this Buzz level is slightly below average. However, not included in the total here are videos by [adult swim], the Impractical Jokers and tosh.0, which not only drove views but also appeal to fans of their producers.
“Tammy” took in $21 million over the July 4th weekend, so with these social stats, “Sex Tape” should be looking at slightly higher totals for this three-day weekend. “Sex Tape” has 28,000 tweets and 47,500 searches to “Tammy’s” 6 million trailer views, 38,600 tweets and 34,500 search volume, while “The Other Woman” opened to $24.8 million with 90,700 tweets and 95,500 searches. “Sex Tape” will likely wind up settling in between the two.
Final expectations: Cameron Diaz’s “Sex Tape” will titilate up to $24 million this weekend.
Like “The Purge: Anarchy,” Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” will be looking to outstrip the total of the first movie. “Planes” took off with $22.2 million last year, and social stats suggest that “Fire & Rescue” should land a similar total. Popular animated franchises have also delivered sequels this year with “How To Train Your Dragon 2” taking $49 million and “Rio 2” making $39 million, and “Fire & Rescue” will follow with another solid landing.
Compared to the original “Planes,” “Fire & Rescue” is slightly ahead on trailers and tweets, but considerably behind on search — however this is often the case for sequels. Not included in the total here are videos produced by family vloggers such as KittiesMama, endorsing the movie to appeal to parents, YouTubers Kurt Hugo Schneider and Evan Tube, as well as clips posted the Facebook page mashing up “Fire & Rescue” with classic Disney movies. DreamWorks Animation’s “HTTYD2” and Fox’s “Rio 2” are muscular franchises (“Rio 2” earned in the very high $30 millions with 20.8 million trailer views, 87,000 tweets and 73,000 searches) which are difficult to match.
For “Fire & Rescue” the stats are around 60% the volume of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which opened to $34 million with 10 million trailer views, 43,000 tweets and 40,000 searches, so it looks likely that “Fire & Rescue” will take at least $21 million, possibly earning more than the original’s $22.2 million.
Final expectations: “Fire & Rescue” will take off with at least $20 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.