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.
“As Above, So Below” Universal, Legendary
The summer has been hard on Hollywood and 2014 has been even harsher on horror in particular, with most movies hovering around $10 million opening weekends. Only “Purge: Anarchy” really broke out, capitalizing on the success of the 2013 iteration to slash its way to $29.8 million on opening. “As Above, So Below” delves into the Paris catacombs for its scares and looks set to be the next horror movie to land around that $10 million mark for the three-day weekend.
“As Above, So Below” has concentrated on convincing younger audiences of the creepiness of the catacombs with a freaky personal hell video and by sending the world’s greatest youtuber™ PewDiePie and his co-tuber/co-person CutiePieMarzia down into the depths and scaring the hell out of them. PewDiePie has YouTube’s most popular channel and together they’ve driven 17.5 million views on these “AA,SB” videos (although they’re not included in the total above). Vine superstars also got together to produce funny skits which were shared to their millions of followers across Vine, Instagram and Twitter.
Looking at “AA,SB”’s metrics versus the average for horror movies over the year suggests a total just over $10 million – a sagging box office might suggest less, but it’s been a while since we had a horror movie so “AA,SB” has a good chance of holding up. Overall it is a little behind “Deliver Us From Evil” on Twitter and Search with 27,900 tweets and 67,400 searches to 43,200 and 72,200, but “AA,SB” does have 3 million more trailer views and a more positive Buzz score, beating out “Deliver Us From Evil”’s 11.4 million views with 0.23% Buzz. “AA,SB” should come in around the same level.
Final Expectations: “As Above, So Below” will make off into the dark with up to $10 million.
“The November Man,” Relativity
Pierce Brosnan returned to the screen on Wednesday as a master spy based on a popular novel, but this time as Peter Devereaux or The November Man, an ex-CIA agent pitted against his protégé, rather than James Bond. Brosnan has the most prominent role and takes center stage in the movie’s marketing: he appeared on Reddit for his first AMA which shot to the top of the rankings and also took part in a live Q&A on HuffPo, and its his charm and cache with older audiences which will be drawing the box office bucks this weekend.
In order to appeal to younger users “The November Man” has sponsored social activity such as a MLG Halo Challenge, where gamers and YouTubers could play off for a $5,000 prize, no doubt an homage to the awesome Goldeneye game from way back when starring Brosnan as Bond on N64. “The November Man” also inspired a hilarious video by the SloMoGuys which has driven over a million views – if you want to find out what happens when a row of watermelons meet a rifle, then click here. You won’t be disappointed.
Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson have both taken turns at being ass-kicking oldies this year in “3 Days to Kill” and “Non-Stop” which took $12.2 and $28.8 million respectively. “November Man” is shaping up closely to “3 Days to Kill” with around 100,000 fans and is pacing around 17% ahead on search volume, but while “The November Man” is around 1 million trailer views ahead, it has lower Buzz at 0.16% to “3 Days”’ 0.25%. “The November Man” is just under half the level of “Non-Stop” which had 9.5 million trailer views and 98,000 searches, suggesting that box office will also be under 50% of Neeson’s movie.
Final Expectations: “The November Man” will clear up with older audiences and make $11-12 million.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of http://www.moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 15 million Facebook fans and 7 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, Twentieth Century Fox and FilmDistrict.
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.