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.
“Dumb and Dumber To,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $30 million
“Dumb and Dumber To” comes to theaters 20 years after Harry and Lloyd first drove their Shag’n Wag’n onto screens. “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” and “22 Jump Street” arrived with a much smaller interval since the first movie, with the success of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s cop comedy suggesting that “less is more” when it comes to making fans wait.
“Dumb and Dumber To” has had to do two things: First, re-engage fans of the original, and second, get new fans who never saw the first movie excited. The stars and creators of the original enjoy enduring popularity today, with creators the Farrelly brothers taking part in a Reddit AMA, and star Jim Carrey tweeting out “Lucy”-spoofing posters to his 13 million Twitter followers. The popularity of the original is shown by the 4 million Facebook fans and the massive 70 million YouTube views racked up. In an effort to reach new audiences, “DaDT” pushed out a sponsored Snapchat story, which is effectively a short, 20-second trailer for the movie.
Comparing “DaDT” to this year’s highest grossing comedy sequel “22 Jump Street,” we’d expect to see a total around $30 million. “22 Jump Street” had huge Twitter volume at 471,000, and 124,000 searches to 71,800 tweets and 88,300 searches for “DaDT.” The massive YouTube count doesn’t weigh as heavily for comedy sequels where nostalgia plays its part in driving views; “Anchorman 2” opened to $26 million despite having 4 million more trailer views than “22 Jump Street,” which took in a massive $57 million on opening weekend.
“Beyond the Lights,” Relativity
Moviepilot Prediction: $17 million
“Beyond the Lights” could surprise many this weekend with a first weekend take well above most predictions. Gina Prince-Blythewood’s latest movie is targeting the same audience of young, urban females which helped propel “No Good Deed” to an unexpectedly strong $24 million start back in September.
While the focus has been on engaging young women, with Nate Parker getting his own Man Crush Monday post on Facebook, and attention being thrown on the red-carpet style and clothes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Beyond the Lights” has also crossed-over to appeal to music audiences: The movie stars tattoo-heavy rapper Machine Gun Kelly who has his own substantial following across several social channels, which he has used to promote the movie, including a Q&A on the HipHopDX Facebook page. The legendary Ice Cube also offered his endorsement over Twitter. Additionally, “Beyond the Lights” partnered with DanceOn to run a freestyle contest with popular YouTube dancers which drove over 800,000 views, not included in the total here.
Socially, “Beyond the Lights” is shaping up not far behind “No Good Deed,” but it is debuting on fewer screens. Bearing that in mind, with great engagement throughout the campaign and 101,000 tweets to 108,000 for “No Good Deed,” we’d expect “Beyond the Lights” to make at least $17 million this weekend.
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.