Digital Tracking: The Future of ‘Tomorrowland’ at the Box Office

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

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.


Tomorrowland, Disney
Moviepilot 3-day Prediction: $38 million

Inspired by the perennial Walt Disney World favorite attraction, “Tomorrowland” takes us to a place where nothing is impossible. The movie was shrouded in mystery for some time, but later trailers revealed a fun-filled romp that has something for everyone.

“Tomorrowland’s” marketing has been as futuristic as its premise, with an interactive site allowing you to explore the world of the movie, and a partnership with Shazam allowing users to unlock exclusive content if they scan a “Tomorrowland” image with their mobile device. The blue carpet premiere was also streamed live on Periscope, with Vine influencers in attendance. Even a special Minecraft world was created just for the movie to appeal to younger audiences.

“Tomorrowland” has built solid stats, with almost 200,000 tweets and over 100,000 searches this week, as well as over 50 million lifetime trailer views over Facebook and YouTube. Both “Cinderella” and “Maleficent” opened just short of $70 million with around 350,000 tweets, so stacking “Tomorrowland” up against those two movies sees it set for a total in the high $30s to low $40s for the weekend.


Poltergeist, 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot 3-day Prediction: $23 million
*Full Disclosure: Moviepilot worked with 20th Century Fox on this title*

Poltergeist” is Sam Raimi’s updated take on the horror classic. The original commented on the effect of TV on society, and today’s world is packed with even more screens, with every home full of mobile phones, tablets and even bigger TVs than before.

“Poltergeist” has used these screens and social media to scare younger moviegoers into theaters this weekend with a wide-reaching digital campaign. The social media strategy has focused around the hashtag #whatareyouafraidof, with influencers sharing what scares them across social and Whisper users confessing their innermost fears. Tumblr influencers also created content to share on the Poltergeist tumblr page.

“Poltergeist” has leveraged the newest platforms available, streaming an interactive experience live through Periscope, as well as creating a spooky Snapchat account and serving ads to users through the Discover section. “Poltergeist” also produced an interactive map of reported supernatural activity so users can investigate whether they’re living in a Poltergeist hotspot, as well as a prank real-estate listing for the haunted house from the movie.

Stats-wise, “Poltergeist” looks set for a three-day total in the mid-$20s, with 100,000 tweets putting it well-ahead of two other PG-13 horror movies from earlier this year: “The Woman in Black 2,” which opened to $15 million with 44,200 tweets, and “The Lazarus Effect,” which started with $10.2 million off the back of 26,000 tweets.


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 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 grew 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.


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