Does digital data offer indicators that can be used to monitor marketing effectiveness and predict box office success even before awareness turns into intent? Moviepilot – which studies social data and box office trends – analyzes 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.
Home, 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot Prediction: $35 million
“Home” is set to debut at No. 1 this weekend with a mid-$30 millions haul, surpassing “Get Hard” to the top spot. DreamWorks Animation will be hoping “Home” can follow in the mighty footsteps of “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “How to Train Your Dragon” and serve as the jumping-off point for a successful franchise in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
DWA has pushed Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez, who voice characters in “Home,” to the forefront of the campaign. It’s proving a successful tactic, with Rihanna driving more conversation than any other cast member. RiRi also joined “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons for a Q&A on the “Home” Snapchat account and has been posting about the movie to her 16 million Instagram followers.
“Home” has generated 117,000 tweets this week, putting it well ahead of the 47,100 from “The Book of Life” and 36,700 from “Boxtrolls,” which both opened around $17 million. On search, “Home” is tracking ahead of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” which opened to $32.2 million, putting it on course for an opening around $35 million.
Get Hard, Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $30 million
This weekend we fully expect both movies to top $30 million as they are targeting wildly different audiences. “Get Hard” is shaping up very nicely in its own right and looks set to continue Kevin Hart’s good box office form, following (among others) “Ride Along,” which took $41.5 million on opening last year, and “The Wedding Ringer,” which recently opened with $20.6 million.
Hart has been as prolific as ever on his own social-media channels, and he has teamed with Will Ferrell to produce skits for FunnyorDie among others, as well as Spotify playlists. On Twitter, “Get Hard” is ahead of “The Wedding Ringer” by 65% and “About Last Night” by 20%, giving us confidence that “Get Hard” will top $30 million this weekend.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 29 million Facebook fans and 30 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 Focus Features, 20th Century Fox and A24.
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 around 10 million 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.