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.
“Hotel Transylvania 2,” Sony
Moviepilot Prediction: $35 million
The original “Hotel Transylvania” opened to a very impressive $42.5 million three years ago. This weekend, the sequel again debuts in late September and is set to check in at the No. 1 spot. As a family title, “Hotel Transylvania 2” appeals to parents and kids alike — tapping mommy bloggers and parenting sites to reach moms and dads, and younger-skewing platforms like Snapchat to deliver content to their kids. “Hotel Transylvania 2” has an impressive 137,000 Tweets, which compares to the 135,000 driven by “Rio 2” last year. This should see “Hotel Transylvania 2” open in first place with $33-$35 million from the weekend.
“The Intern,” Warner Bros
Moviepilot Prediction: $20 million
Robert De Niro goes back to work in “The Intern” alongside Anne Hathaway in a comedy designed to appeal to older audiences who’ve been rather underserved as of late. “The Intern” has put up more than 17 million trailer views over Facebook and YouTube, which set it up nicely for a good weekend. “The Intern” has 45,400 searches versus the 27,700 searches “Hot Pursuit” drove on the way to $13.9 million, as well as the 34,500 searches “Tammy” got before making $21.5 million, so we’d expect to see it come out with over $20 million this weekend.
Moviepilot Prediction: $17 million
“Everest” opened last week exclusively on IMAX and premium screens to a very impressive total of $7.5 million. That bodes well for the wide opening, which we’d expect to see take in around $17 million. When a movie has already been released on so many screens, the social stats can be a little murky as they’re clouded by chatter from those who’ve already seen the film, but an enormous 261,000 searches suggests “Everest” will scale a nice box office peak this weekend.
“The Green Inferno,” BH Tilt
Moviepilot Prediction: $4 million
Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno” finally bows in around 1,500 theaters this weekend after it was originally deemed “too gory” by former distributor Open Road. Now in the hands of Jason Blum’s BH Tilt imprint, “The Green Inferno” has been backed by a modern and inventive marketing campaign that has focused on reaching hardcore horror audiences via social media, leveraging every network from Facebook to Snapchat, and using specific influencers to tap into their fanbases. We see this one opening to over $4 million, having driven more than 25 million cross-platform trailer views and stirred up 80,000 searches, suggesting the viral marketing has hit home with the movie’s gory horror-loving core audience.
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 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.