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 below) over the seven days leading up to their release, when marketing campaigns should be at their peak.
“The Other Woman”
“The Other Woman” is the first comedy aimed squarely at women in almost a year, after Melissa McCarthy “The Heat” and “Identity Thief” last Spring. The digital campaign has focused on content identifying with this demographic and the movie’s success will depend on how firmly this marketing has hit home with female moviegoers.
Content on Facebook have revolved around the movie’s plot about taking revenge on ex-boyfriends and sticking together with your friends. Twitter has showcased partnerships with fashion and cosmetic brands and shared features and articles from celebrity and female lifestyle websites such as Refinery29, which produced slick native advertising articles, as did Buzzfeed. Celebrity gossip website Just Jared featured exclusive clips of the movie and the trailer count was boosted by a trailer subtitled in emoticons.
Singer Nicki Minaj is making her acting debut in the movie and the star has a prodigious social presence, with 42 million fans on Facebook as well as 17.6 million Twitter followers and 5 million on Instagram. The rapper has regularly posted about her role in the movie, tweeted at her co-stars and Instagramed photos of herself at the premiere in an attempt to leverage her fan base. Tie-ins with Dr. Dre’s Beats label should also help to activate the urban audience.
The cast did a Twitter Q&A in conjunction with Yahoo! and “The Other Woman” is performing strongly on Twitter and search, as a result. While it may fall behind “The Heat’s” nearly 500,000 Facebook following, “The Other Woman” is slightly ahead of “The Heat’s” 63,000 searches when it opened to $39 million. On Twitter, “The Other Woman” is also well ahead of McCarthy’s previous successful movies “Identity Thief” and “Bridesmaids,” which had 20,000 and 15,000 Tweets respectively. Last summer’s reigning raunchy comedy, “We’re the Millers” had almost 100,000 searches and more than 40,000 Tweets and took in $26 million. While many box office predictions are in the sub-$20 million range for “The Other Woman,” the strong Twitter and search numbers, as well as the 22 million YouTube views should see it open closer to “Millers.”
Final expectations: Steve Rogers will be the next man to fall victim to “The Other Woman’s” vengeful trio.
“Brick Mansions” is a Luc Besson remake of French parkour movie “District 13” but is most known as being Paul Walker’s first posthumous movie. Marketing has handled Walker’s role well, paying respect to the star without over dramatizing or sentimentalizing his tragic death.
The target audience for the movie is similar to the “Fast & Furious” franchise, looking to attract mainly a young, urban audience. Walker’s co-star RZA has taken the lion’s share of the attention in order to leverage his cache as part of the Wu-Tang Clan, although the hip hop legends have had mixed success with their cinematic efforts. RZA has hosted a Reddit AMA, recorded shoutouts for competition winners, taken over the Vibe.com Instagram feed and was feautured on websites with large young and urban fan bases such as GlobalGrind. “Brick Mansions” has also been able to rely on RZA’s celebrity friends like Ice Cube to tweet support for him and the movie.
Aside from the hip hop audience, “Brick Mansions” has also reached out to sports and gaming fans who are likely to enjoy the movie’s parkour and action scenes by sponsoring a live “Call of Duty” battle on MLG.TV with NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant, and producing a video featuring Washington Wizards’ John Wall who is currently starting in the NBA playoffs. Action sequences also have been showcased on Facebook with lots of scenes being shared, while exclusive clips have debuted on AMC Theaters’ website.
“Brick Mansions” is shaping up to perform stronger than Besson’s last two movies, well ahead of “3 Days to Kill” and almost twice as well as “The Family,” which opened to $10 million and $12 million, respectively. The “Brick Mansions” Facebook fan base is very engaged with a high PTAT, and the movie has driven over 11 million views, 50,000 tweets and 58,000 searches in comparison to “3 Days’” 3.7 million trailer views, 10,000 tweets and 28,000 searches, and “The Family” with 6 million trailer views, 6,000 tweets and 19,000 searches.
Final expectations: “Brick Mansions” obviously won’t be as successful as “Fast & Furious” but should build a better return for Besson than his last movies.
The Quiet Ones
“The Quiet Ones” is a new take on the found footage genre from the legendary horror producer Hammer Films. The online campaign has targeted two distinct groups: die-hard horror genre fans and young females, a popular horror audience, but “Quiet Ones” might have a tough job as horror is not enjoying as successful a year at the box office as it did in 2013.
In order to appeal to hardcore horror fans, the marketing has leveraged both Lionsgate and Hammer’s strong brands: the Twitter and Instagram accounts for the movie are the Lionsgate Horror accounts, followed by thousands of horror lovers, and “Quiet Ones” is fronting the new “Lionsgate Horror Society” site, offering rewards to the biggest horror fans. The Twitter account has tapped into the kudos of the Hammer name by featuring quotes and re-tweeting many comments from the Reddit AMA by the director John Pogue and Simon Oakes, the CEO of Hammer Films. “Quiet Ones” and Reddit also ran a competition driven by Reddit Ads asking fans to share their “eerie unexplainable experiences.”
The film’s star Sam Claflin has been at the center of the marketing for young women due to his popularity from “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” — he has a solid social presence himself and regularly tweets about the movie. The official “Quiet Ones” website is hosted on Tumblr, which is especially popular among young women, and is linked to a spooky viral site that puts fans inside the movie.
Late last summer, Lionsgate’s “You’re Next” opened to $7 million, starting with similar numbers compared to “The Quiet Ones” with 144,000 fans, 13,000 Tweets and 74,000 searches, but was just ahead on trailer views with over 5 million. “Oculus” and “Devil’s Due” both had very strong numbers earlier this year but opened to $12 and $8 million respectively, suggesting the benchmark for horror numbers has been raised by the mega success of “The Conjuring” and to an extent “The Purge” last year.
Final expectations: “Quiet Ones” will provide some scares but doesn’t have the volume of awareness to break through at the box office.
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 Films.
While individually these metrics may not mean a lot, compared to one another and in context of competition and genre benchmarks, they give a good impression of the performance of a movie’s marketing campaign and the audience’s appetite for the movie. Needless to say, there are limitations to these data points and the causalities they explain, but as Hollywood just enters the era of Big Data, the potential insight offered by these numbers cannot be ignored.
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. Some titles with common words or phrases like “HER” or “LABOR DAY” are very hard to track in a meaningful way on Twitter. 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.