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.

Terminator: Genisys,” Paramount
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $51 million

It’s been six years since “Terminator: Salvation” opened to a Memorial Day (five-day) weekend of $65.3 million and now Arnold is back to kickstart a new era for the franchise and breathe life into Independence Day theaters — and thanks to a video-heavy social campaign, he should have some help on the digital front.

The digital strategy around “Terminator: Genisys” has relied heavily on Arnold himself, particularly his 13.1 million Facebook fans and 3.4 million Twitter followers. The social-savvy Schwarzenegger helped promote a “Terminator” Snapchat filter that turns anyone into a Terminator, and he voiced navigational directions for popular traffic-dodging app Waze.

Where Arnie and Team “Terminator” really made their mark was via video. Schwarzenegger starred in a prank video for a good cause, surprising fans in Hollywood to the tune of 21 million YouTube views. An impressive 54 million Facebook video views (trailer/clips) coupled with almost 100 million views on YouTube adds up to an impressive presence in a key metric for the action genre. This huge total, however, does not even include the “YouTube Chronicles” Web series, produced in conjunction with YouTube and influential content creators, or the VR video created for Google Cardboard.

“Terminator: Genisys” actually compares favorably to critical darling “Mad Max: Fury Road” on video views, with an advantage of about 50 million views between YouTube and Facebook. Coupled with an almost identical search volume, “Terminator: Genisys” looks set to top the $45 million “Mad Max” pulled over its three-day opening weekend. Arnie has a couple of extra days in his favor, too, which should see him able to blast his way past $50 million for the five days.

Magic Mike XXL,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $42 million

Channing Tatum and his band of loveable strippers in “Magic Mike XXL” will give Arnold a run for his money this weekend, although we’d expect to see “Terminator: Genisys” come out just on top.

Tatum’s winning personality (and torso) is the big attraction for the movie, and the star has used his social accounts to great effect to promote the movie, especially to his 7 million+ Twitter followers. Channing did his first Reddit AMA, shared fan videos and even showed up on on a float at LA Pride.

On Twitter, “Magic Mike XXL” is ahead of “Gone Girl,” which opened to $37.5 million with 150,000 tweets, and “No Good Deed,” which opened to $24.3 million with 100,000 tweets, suggesting it will play well with both younger and older female audiences. This sexy sequel looks set to top $40 million for the five-day weekend, potentially going as high as $46 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 Universal, 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 towards 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.