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.
“Inside Out,” Disney
Moviepilot Prediction: $75 million
Well, who saw that coming? Last weekend “Jurassic World” stomped its way not just to No. 1 at the box office, but to the biggest opening weekend ever. Eclipsing the “Avengers’” total was no mean feat, and the achievement serves as testament to a fantastic marketing campaign and a quality movie. Let’s see how Disney can respond this week with Pixar’s hotly anticipated “Inside Out.”
“Inside Out” has itself put up huge numbers, with an impressive 126 million YouTube views and a healthy 35 million Facebook video views on top of that. This is around twice as many views as “Home” and “Spongebob: Sponge Out of Water” delivered earlier this year, when both opened in the mid-50s.
The “Inside Out” total is partly driven by a series of short videos created to introduce each character/emotion. Disney even created a special Twitter handle specifically for the characters, @headquarters. Fans were also invited to submit their own art for each character on Tumblr — a community with huge love for everything Disney and Pixar — with best efforts featured on the official pages. Fan influencers such as Miranda Sings and Jon Negroni were also invited to an early screening of the movie and taken for a tour of Pixar.
The enormous video success is bolstered by a Twitter count that is not quite on a par with the 117,000 for “Home” and 123,000 for “SpongeBob.” The performance of family titles is notoriously difficult to predict, and the voracious “Jurassic World” is still patrolling theaters, which could take a bite out of the “Inside Out” total. Overall we see the first Pixar movie in two years clocking in with an emotional $75 million for the weekend.
“Dope,” Open Road
Moviepilot Prediction: $7 million
Buzz out of Sundance was strong and the trailer is charming, so “Dope” should find an audience without much else to entertain the indie crowd at the moment. It’s hard to get a handle on “Dope” without a solid comparison to work with, but Twitter-wise it is just a bit behind “The Duff” and “Top Five,” which should see it opening around the $7 million-$8 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 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 its 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.