Does digital data offer indicators that can be used to monitor marketing effectiveness and predict box office success even before awareness turns into intent? We analyzed 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.
Think Like A Man Too
“22 Jump Street” took top spot last weekend and it looks like comedy sequel “Think Like a Man Too” will repeat the feat this time out. “Think” has a huge fan base from the first movie, a great cast, and a star in Kevin Hart who is on a box office roll. “Jump Street” might take the edge off the weekend total, but expect “Think Like a Man Too” to open over $35 million.
Kevin Hart has already been box office No. 1 this year, starring alongside “Jump Street”’s Ice Cube in “Ride Along,” the buddy cop comedy that opened to $41.5 million. Hart’s social popularity is growing rapidly, with the comedian now boasting over 6.7 million Instagram fans, 15 million on Facebook and 10.5 million on Twitter – he’s regularly tweeted about the movie and a red carpet selfie from the premiere drove over 203,000 Instagram likes. Hart also has “About Last Night,” which did a solid $25.6 million on Valentine’s Day weekend, under his belt this year.
“Think” is shaping up somewhere in-between his other two movies this year – ahead of “About Last Night” on YouTube with 13 million to 4 million, but behind the 20.7 million of “Ride Along.” Hart also starred in a stomach-turning viral vid with Jimmy Fallon that isn’t included in the total here. “Think” is ahead of “About Last Night” again on Twitter with 93,000 to 44,000, and is on a par with “Ride Along” at 90,000.
However, “Think” will likely open lower than “Ride Along,” which had significant advantage in trailer views and Buzz, which is important for a comedy as it demonstrates how funny fans have found the marketing. “Ride Along” had an excellent 0.74% Buzz rating and last week “Jump Street” had 0.59% Buzz, both of which converted to massive ticket sales at the box office.
Search doesn’t play an important role for movies with urban audiences, with each of the three clocking up around 30,000 in search volume. To engage this audience the marketing has thrust Hart front and center to leverage his popularity, and appealed to younger fans with an official tumblr and Instagram, which is performing well with 38,000 Instagram followers. Social pages have regularly pushed out content designed for men or women (such as teasing Hart’s appearance on the WWE Network), showing the cross demo appeal of the movie, and exclusive clips were released with Yahoo! Movies to reach wider audiences.
Final expectations: “Think Like a Man Too” will take top spot with a total in the high 30s, but likely short of “Ride Along”’s $41.5 million.
Clint Eastwood returns with a movie of the popular musical “Jersey Boys,” his first since “Trouble With the Curve” in 2012. An Eastwood musical based on ’60s icons is definitely a film with an older target audience, as borne out by the social numbers. However, unlike “Think Like a Man Too,” search is the key indicator for the success of this type of movie as older audiences are more likely to use traditional Web searches rather than discovering a movie through social media.
Usually movies aiming older have fan bases between 100,000 and 200,000 on Facebook, with “Jobs” at 145,000 and “Saving Mr.Banks” with 199,000 pretty typical for movies based on true events or biopics, putting the 140,000 of “Jersey Boys” about in the middle of the pack. Trailer counts are also usually well below 10 million, with the Sapphires at 2 million meaning “Jersey Boys”’ 2.1 million is about where one would expect it to be.
Search is the prime indicator of box office and Eastwood’s last movie “Trouble With the Curve” appealed to a similar audience and opened to $12 million with 45,000 searches, and with a slight lead at 52,000 searches “Jersey Boys” should be looking to top that total.
Final expectations: “Jersey Boys” will walk like men to a $13 million-$14 million total, but “Thinking Like a Man” will take top spot.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of Moviepilot, a fan-focused platform for movie geeks, cinephiles and everything in between, reaching over 10 million monthly unique users and over 15 million Facebook fans. Based on community data, Moviepilot helps studios to optimize their social media campaigns, identifying and activating the right audiences. The company works with studios like Sony, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, A24, CBS Films and Focus Features.
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 10 million to 20 million views 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.