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 are at their peak.
“Daddy’s Home,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $26 million
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are two of the most popular and recognizable faces in comedy today, and both are riding high following the 2015 successes of “Get Hard” and “Ted 2.” The duo has showcased their chemistry in many clips, interviews and Q&As, and leveraged their own social media profiles to draw in fans. “Daddy’s Home” has partnered with Imgur and Buzzfeed to show off the movie’s funniest moments with some excellent gif choices. “Daddy’s Home” should pull in less than “Get Hard,” which debuted to $33 million this summer. The comedy will likely start off with more than $25 million and continue to play well over the holidays.
Moviepilot Prediction: $11 million
“Concussion” stars Will Smith as a forensic pathologist who fought against the NFL to publish his research on the brain damage suffered by professional football players. While “Daddy’s Home” is going after sports fans, “Concussion” will be looking for older, more high-brow audiences interested in a complex drama. As such, “Concussion” partnered on “Game Changers,” a web series about everyday people who have made huge contributions to society. With more than 50,000 tweets and searches, “Concussion” should bet on at least $11 million this weekend.
“The Big Short,” Paramount
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $12 million
*Full disclosure: Moviepilot partnered with Paramount on this title*
Opening wide today, “The Big Short” makes the financial crisis sexy, as it boasts a star-studded cast including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell, among others. Social media has been leveraged extensively to play up the fun, exciting side of the story, with articles on Buzzfeed putting the cast front and center. “The Big Short” gets a head start on the other holiday contenders and won’t short change anyone on its way to an opening weekend north of $10 million.
“Joy,” 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot Prediction: $14 million
Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and David O. Russell re-team after the wildly successful and well-decorated “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” “Joy’s” campaign that has heavily targeted females, starting a Pinterest board, a Q&A with the stars on Glamour’s Instagram and launching a first-of-its-kind Twitter “Choose your own adventure,” as well as a #FindJoy promoted trend. With great search and Twitter volume, “Joy” looks set for an impressive opening in the mid-teens.
“Point Break,” Warner Bros
Moviepilot Prediction: $10 million
Everybody’s favorite ’80s classic is back with an extreme sports-heavy update. The big pull of the movie is that all the stunts are real, with spectacular surf, snowboard, climbing and wingsuiting scenes. This has highlighted in articles on Vice Sports and Twitter moments, alongside endorsements from athletes such as Bob Burnquist and Chris Sharma. While prying young males away from “Star Wars” may be a hard task, “Point Break” should speed past $10 million this weekend.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 29 million Facebook fans and 30 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 Focus Features, 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.