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.
Moviepilot Prediction: $58 million
Paul Rudd stars Scott Lang in Marvel’s latest “Ant-Man.” Cybercriminal Lang has been introduced via viral marketing portraying him as a notorious thief who is being released from jail. While Rudd is already a familiar face to many, the loveable lead has starred in videos with VSauce3 and CollegeHumor shot at YouTube Space LA, as well as taking on Youtuber DudePerfect in a sports challenge.
“Ant-Man’s” marketing has had a lot of fun with the size of the central character, releasing a mini-poster and mini-trailer, and a series of posters tying the microscopic hero into the “Avengers” franchise with shots alongside the central characters. Fans could interact with the posters and create their own selfies by using Shazam, while the premiere streamed live on Periscope. “Ant-Man” has also embraced the Marvel fan community with outreach to Mommy bloggers to win over the family crowd and hosting the first-ever movie “Answer Time” on Tumblr for fans to pose questions to the cast. Fans also had the opportunity to win a preview screening in their own city by tweeting for their town.
Running up to the weekend with 262,000 tweets and 218,000 searches, compared to 319,000 searches and 437,000 searches for last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” would see “Ant-Man” heisting $51 million for the weekend.
Moviepilot Prediction: $26 million
“Trainwreck” unites the comedy powerhouses Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow for a comedy in the vein of “Bridesmaids” and this year’s “Spy.” However, while “Trainwreck” is ostensibly targeted at females, much of the marketing is aimed at winning over men as a secondary audience. Both NBA legend LeBron James and WWE superstar John Cena feature in the movie, and Schumer’s co-star and “SNL” alumnus Bill Hader features heavily. With over 60,000 tweets, “Trainwreck” is just a short step behind “Spy” with 65,500, and Melissa McCarthy’s movie opened to $29.1 million earlier this year. This should see “Trainwreck” totaling around $26 million for the 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 Universal, 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.