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 are at their peak.
“Pan” is the fantastic Joe Wright’s take on J.M Barrie’s classic story, starring Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara. The trailer has racked up millions of views, but “Hotel Transylvania 2” is holding well and might strip away the family audience that both movies are targeting.
In order to reach younger demographics, “Pan” has produced a pair of mini-games in that perennial favorite Minecraft, as well as commissioning makeup tutorials to appeal to younger girls. “Pan” has done well to clock up 40 million trailer views across Facebook and YouTube, but 35,700 tweets and 71,100 searches compared to the 186,000 tweets and 117,000 searches put up by “Tomorrowland” suggest an opening in the mid teens.
“The Walk,” Sony
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million
“The Walk” is a cinematic spectacle from Robert Zemeckis that debuted in IMAX last weekend, following a similar release pattern to “Everest” from a few weeks back. The campaign has focused on amplifying the positive reviews and the impressive visuals in order to draw fans in to buy tickets for those premium IMAX screens. It’s tough to use “Everest” as a comparison for “The Walk,” as they share little in common aside from a similar release pattern. If we were to go down that road, then at the same point in their release schedule both movies had a similar number of Tweets, but “Everest” drove almost twice as many searches as “The Walk,” suggesting the Zemeckis film will bring in around $6 million this weekend.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching more than 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 have grown 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 toward 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.