Digital Tracking: ‘Hot Pursuit’ to Make Off With $18 million

How Moviepilot sees this week’s wide releases shaping up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google

Hot Pursuit
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

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 should be at their peak.

Hot Pursuit,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $18 million

“Hot Pursuit” comes as a slice of lighthearted counterprogramming sandwiched between male-skewed “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” aiming to grab female moviegoers who aren’t into psychopathic robots or post-apocalyptic gangs battling to the death.

The campaign has focused heavily on the friendship between Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon, with the pair appearing in many interviews together, as well as goofing off in their own time on Dubsmash. Vergara posted the lip-sync video to her social accounts where she has very strong followings, with almost 7 million fans on Facebook and 3.4 million on Instagram.

Looking at “Hot Pursuit” compared to recent comedies aimed at women sees the ladies heading for a total around $18 million. On Twitter, “Hot Pursuit” is pacing ahead of “Sex Tape,” which opened to $14.6 million with 21,200 tweets, but behind “The Other Woman,” which took in $24.7 million with 72,700 tweets. “Hot Pursuit” has also racked up 26 million Facebook video views, which should see the new Odd Couple come up just under the $20 million mark.

Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching more than 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 including Universal, 20th Century Fox and A24.



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 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 more than 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 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.