How Moviepilot sees this week’s wide releases 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? 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.
Furious 7, Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $135 million
Fourteen years ago, at the start of “The Fast and The Furious,” Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto says this the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile.” True on the road, but at the box office, it matters plenty. “Furious 7” is set to win the weekend on its way to becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. It should comfortably become April’s best opening ever, speeding past the $95 million for “Captain America: Winter Soldier” by a mile, and then some.
The social campaign has mirrored the magic that makes the franchise so thrilling, using the unique personalities of its cast and highlighting the thrilling action and adrenaline of the movies to fuel a social beast that is much greater than the sum of its parts. While the franchise has 54 million Facebook fans, the cast combine to push that number to around 300 million before even beginning to look at other platforms. Universal used this to their advantage, tapping the cast’s enormous social reach to drive more than 100 million Facebook views on the first trailer within 48 hours, in addition to the 18 million views on YouTube.
Vin Diesel is a key player here with more than 80 million Facebook fans, which makes him the fourth most popular Facebook celebrity. This is no accident — Vin lets his larger-than-life personality come through in his posts, sharing his daily highlights, showing off his wacky side with “Vinbook” posts and adding classy personal touches, like this photo of him with the Walker brothers who completed Paul’s role in the film.
All things considered, this baby is a souped-up social juggernaut, with 271 million Facebook trailer views, 135 million YouTube views (with a way-above-average Buzz of 0.54%) and more than one million tweets. Last year, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” opened to $100 million with around half the tweet volume of “Furious,” although it did lead slightly on search. It’s a similar story for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which opened to $94.3 million, with 319,000 tweets but 382,000 searches. But the massive tweet count for “Furious” will help it overcome a more average search volume to soar above these two comps.
Come Monday, “Furious 7” should be firmly entrenched in the record books with a weekend haul of more than $130 million.
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 Sony, 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.