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 33,” Warner Bros
Moviepilot Prediction: $7 million
This week’s wide releases will find it hard to tackle the one-two punch at the top of the box office in the form of “Spectre” and “Peanuts” and we’d expect to see both newcomers open below $10 million.
“The 33” tells the true story of the Chilean miners who were trapped for weeks below ground before finally being rescued. At the time, the events captured imaginations worldwide as people willed the trapped men to safety, and this has translated into a healthy trailer view count with over 10 million views combined over Facebook and Youtube. “The 33” boasts a strong cast, including Antonio Banderas, which should help the movie play well among Hispanic audiences. “No Escape” recently opened to $11 million off the back of 58,000 searches, so we’d expect to see “The 33” emerge from the weekend with a take around $7 million.
“Love the Coopers,” CBS FIlms
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million
“Love the Coopers” kicks off the holiday season with a Christmas-themed comedy ensemble, featuring stars as diverse as Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei and Amanda Seyfried. The feel-good comedy could play well as temperatures drop and we move toward Thanksgiving. Last year’s family comedy “This Is Where I Leave You” opened to $11.6 million, although not during the holiday season. With just over half the trailer views, tweets and search volume of the Tina Fey comedy, we’d expect to see “Love the Coopers” come home with around $6 million.
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 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 who 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.