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.
Moviepilot Prediction: $24 million
This week a 20-second trailer for “Ouija” became the first ever ad on messaging-platform Snapchat. The goal of the ground-breaking initiative was to tap into the younger audiences which are key in deciding the success of horror movies. Arriving just in time for Halloween, “Ouija” is set to open over $20 million this weekend and become the year’s highest grossing original (non-sequel) horror title.
With reaching younger audiences a primary concern, “Ouija” had two video projects accompanying the trailers and clips. Firstly, a psychic terror prank (in the vein of the “Carrie” coffee shop clip and the “Devil’s Due” projectile vomiting baby) has gained almost 2 million views. Secondly, “Ouija” tapped YouTube crew “Our2ndLife” to produce a series of videos culminating in a ouija-board themed haunted house video, which were pushed out to 2.6 million channel subscribers and drove over 3 million views. Note that these numbers aren’t included in the overall total listed above.
Stacking social stats for “Ouija” against the year’s other horror titles finds it ahead across most metrics, beaten out only by follow-ups sequels “Purge: Anarchy” and “Annabelle.” “Ouija” has almost 17 million video views to 23.5 million for “Purge: Anarchy” and 20.2 million for “Annabelle.” On Twitter, “Ouija” is very healthy at 193,000 tweets but “Annabelle” grossed over $37 million with 530,000 tweets and “Purge: Anarchy” took just under $30 million with 329,000, putting “Ouija” on course to start well over $20 million.
“John Wick,” Lionsgate
Moviepilot Prediction: $13 million
Keanu Reeves comes out all guns blazing in “John Wick” attempting to blast his way back to box office relevance. While Keanu is still on the younger side (compared to “November Man” lead Pierce Brosnan or the quintessential aging action star, 62-year-old Liam Neeson), he’s grizzled enough to play the part of a retired hit-man back for revenge.
Keanu has, naturally, been at the center of the campaign with a Reddit AMA and a Twitter Q&A driving over 1,000 tweets with the hashtag #IMDbAskKeanu. “John Wick” has also targeted gamers with a free download of first-person shooter “PayDay2” when you buy a ticket for the movie on Fandango and a web browser game.
Earlier this year “November Man” opened to $7.9 million with 4.7 million YouTube views and a 32,700 search. “Wick” is shaping up well ahead on both counts and is slightly ahead of Neeson’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” which made $12.8 million on release last month with 5 million YouTube views and 58,600 search. This, coupled with “Wick”’s stellar reviews, puts Keanu on track for an opening over $13 million.
“23 Blast,” Ocean Avenue Entertainment
Moviepilot Prediction: $400,000
“23 Blast” is the latest movie to market itself to a faith-oriented audience, playing up the spiritual aspects of its football themed story. “When The Game Stands Tall” also told an uplifting high school football story and opened over $8 million in August, but it’ll be hard for “23 Blast” to get near that total from less than a thousand screens and with less than a million trailer views. “When The Game Stands Tall” also lead on search and Twitter, with 34,000 searches and 19,000 tweets to under 2,000 and 5,000 for “23 Blast.”
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of 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.