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 Transporter Refueled,” EuropaCorp
Moviepilot Prediction: $7.5 million
If “Transporter” can’t cross this weekend’s finish line in first place, it won’t be for lack of creativity across digital platforms. EuropaCorp partnered with Gameloft’s popular Asphalt 8 mobile game to offer weekly missions — a race against the clock in true Frank Martin fashion. In another interactive stroke, “Transporter” hosted a unique press junket in which leading man Ed Skrein himself drove around reporters and influencers at high speeds, with those videos landing across social platforms and adding to a solid 9.75 million views across Facebook, in addition to more than 9 million trailer views on YouTube.
The strongest suit for this action-packed reboot is a legacy audience that’s helped build out 2.5 million Facebook likes, a mark that easily trumps recent comparable “Hitman: Agent 47” (which bowed to $8.3 million). Couple that with more than 6 million likes from “Transporter 3” and some impressive Instagram engagement out of a snazzy Playboy Mansion premiere event, and you’re talking some momentum. But with an extremely limited presence on Twitter, and just over half the Search volume of “Hitman,” “Transporter” will have a hard time crossing the $8 million threshold over the four-day weekend, giving “Straight Outta Compton” a likely fourth straight weekend atop the box office pile.
“A Walk in the Woods,” Broad Green Pictures
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million
Robert Redford and Nick Nolte will look to tap nostalgia audiences this weekend with Sundance buddy drama “A Walk in the Woods.” As indicated by a title that will mainly pull older audiences, the numbers across social are largely quiet, albeit with fervent engagement from the 27,000 fans on the movie’s Facebook page. That base was mobilized by the clever “Reconnect with a Friend” digital experience (via Facebook Connect), which encouraged fans to invite an old friend on a new adventure by sending them a digital postcard to an adventurous destination of their choice. Still, the key digital metric here will be Search, which best reflects interest from viewers ages 35 and up. There, “Woods” stacks up behind recent Meryl Streep starrer “Ricki and the Flash,” but ahead of Diane Keaton’s 2014 release “And So It Goes.” We expect its box office return to fall right in between those as well, with an opening of $6 million over the four-day weekend.
Facebook fan (or like) numbers are a good indicator for fan awareness for a movie, even months before 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 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.