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.
“Dracula Untold,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $23 million
“Dracula: Untold” could be in a cold-blooded battle with “Gone Girl” for box office glory. Digital tracking has the movie set to bite off an impressive $23 million for the weekend.
This summer’s fantasy hit “Hercules” topped “Untold” on YouTube views by almost 12 million (with similar Buzz), but millions of views can be added to “Untold” when including Facebook video, with over a million views on one trailer post. Thanks in part to a live Twitter Q&A with stars Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon, “Untold” has stirred up a flurry of interest with 127,000 tweets, approaching Dwayne Johnson’s herculean 157,000. It steals a lead on search volume with 188,000, versus 124,000 for “Hercules,” running mighty close to “Gone Girl’s” impressive 204,000 last week.
Where the legendary Hercules trod with menace and Vlad the Impaler strides to success, the monstrous “I, Frankenstein” stumbled, opening to $8.6 million. “Untold” has gathered three times the trailer views and more than twice the searches, putting the Count on course for a total well above $20 million.
“The Judge,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $15 million
Robert Downey Jr. has poured his heart as well as his considerable social media presence into “The Judge,” with the megastar extensively promoting the movie through his 22 million strong Facebook profile and to 2.75 million Twitter followers. The personal touch brought to many of the posts has driven massive interaction, particularly this photo of RDJ with his father and sons, which drove over half a million likes and also tied into the movie’s plot. Content drops have been woven in among the personal posts, with the poster debuting here rather than on the movie page, which picked up 500,000 likes.
Twitter has played a different role to the Facebook page, with red carpet and backstage tweets giving an insight into the day-to-day life of a superstar promoting a movie – which according to his Reddit AMA is something actually to be enjoyed. RDJ has dropped a breadcrumb trail of teaser videos to fans through Twitter, hinting at where his next appearance is going to be, which have generated thousands of retweets. The tweet volume will be further boosted by a last minute Twitter Q&A on Friday.
“The Judge” is shaping up similarly to “Prisoners” socially, with more followers across the lead actors’ profiles than on the movie page. They’re also neck-and-neck on YouTube views, but “The Judge” has better buzz at 0.39% versus 0.33% – not only that, but the new front-facing Facebook video metrics show at least 4 million more video views across trailers and clips posted by RDJ and on the official page. Measuring search against “Prisoners'” 85,000 and “Gone Girl’s” total would suggest “The Judge” is headed for around $15 million, but we could see the sway from the higher video views and tweet count bring it up to the higher teens.
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Disney
Moviepilot Prediction: $15.5 million
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” boasts a large, socially engaged cast and a mouthful of a title (cleverly used to the film’s advantage in this Vine campaign). The movie has set out to engage both parents and kids through various social networks: Appealing to the adults, the studio hosted a special screening for influential parent bloggers and others with solid social reach, prompting the hashtag #VeryBadDayEvent. “Alexander” has also hosted sweepstakes appealing to families on Twitter.
While the film is led by Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, the social promotion has fallen to the younger stars, all enthusiastically promoting the film on their burgeoning Twitter and Instagram accounts. Disney has employed their 70,000 strong Vine account to ask users to Vine their own “Terrible, Horrible Day.” On Facebook, the “Alexander” page has posted a series of trailers and clips, totalling more than 4 million views.
“Alexander” looks set to come in slightly below this year’s previous family films — “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and “The Boxtrolls” — which made $17.5 million and $17.25 million, respectively. While “Planes” had fairly similar social stats with nearly 6 million YouTube views, 26,000 Tweets and 25,000 on search, “Boxtrolls” was performing slightly better at release with 10.8 million views, 37,000 Tweets and 35,000 search. Given these numbers, as well as the film’s star power, we expect “Alexander” to come in around the mid-teens this weekend.
Moviepilot Prediction: $5.5 million
“Addicted” is very much in the vein of Tyler Perry’s “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” pitching itself headlong into the arms of urban females with the help of handsome leading men William Levy and Boris Kodjoe. The cast have large social followings and the movie has made its home on Tumblr, packed with gifs and clips to take the breath away. With 30% more tweets than “Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club” (which opened to $8.3 million) and about 60% less than “Think Like A Man Too” (which opened to $29.2 million), “Addicted” is shaping up for a start over $10 million. However, this total will likely be checked by a “limited-wide” release on fewer than 1,000 screens, which will keep it to around half that amount.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of http://www.moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 28 million Facebook fans and 20 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.