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.
“The Visit,” Universal Pictures
Moviepilot Prediction: $17 million
M. Night Shyamalan returns to the silver screen, and this time he has at least some lukewarm critical acclaim behind him. A solid 64% Rotten Tomatoes score going into its Friday release has helped translate into solid Search interest (130,000 total) from an older fan base that remembers the glory days of “The Sixth Sense.” That number easily dwarfs recent comparables “Ouija” and “Unfriended.” But the key demo — as is always the case for horror releases — will be younger audiences. And a set of creepy grandparents seems to be moving the needle with those younger fans, at least to the tune of nearly 19 million native video views on Facebook, which helps make up for a peckish 8 million views on YouTube.
Universal has had a dream year, and with a serious focus on driving Facebook video views, they could climb past a $15 million opening with what critics are calling Shyamalan’s most intentionally humorous jaunt.
“The Perfect Guy,” Sony Pictures
Moviepilot Prediction: $14.5 million
With “Straight Outta Compton” and now “War Room” topping the box office charts four weeks in a row, Sony hopes the trend continues this weekend with “The Perfect Guy.” And while a solid 28 million collective views between Facebook and YouTube shows fans are paying attention, Search volume lags behind both “No Good Deed” and “The Call,” which opened to $24 million and $17 million, respectively.
Sony invited Facebook followers to submit their relationship questions for the cast of “The Perfect Guy,” tapping into the themes of the film and an audience that is likely to skew female. But Twitter numbers are a bit skinny at 13,800, and the Facebook audience (188,000) is only half that of “No Good Deed’s.” All in all, this one will have a tough time cracking the $15 million mark, but anything over $12 million (the film’s production budget) would be a major win over a sleepy early autumn box office weekend.
Facebook fan (or like) numbers are a good indicator for fan awareness for a movie, even months before 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 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 have grown 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 toward 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.