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.
Mark Watney and “The Martian” have enjoyed an extended stay deserted and all alone at the top of the box office, but that dominance is set to come to an end this weekend. And who could be better equipped to take out the sci-fi blockbuster than MI6’s finest, James Bond? 007 returns in “Spectre,” the follow-up to the incredibly successful “Skyfall,” which opened to $88.4 million three years ago.
The crowning jewel in the online campaign was the first-ever branded Snapchat Discover channel, which was live for 24 hours at the end of October. The channel included interviews, clips and behind-the-scenes looks at the film. With content of such high quality, it’s a shame it was only visible for a day, but more exclusive peeks were available on YouTube.
As ever, “Spectre” boasts a star-studded cast, with Daniel Craig returning as Bond alongside Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux as the Bond girls, as well as Dave Bautista. Bautista has leveraged the social presence that he has built on his former WWE persona and his role in “Guardians of the Galaxy” to good effect, hosting Q&As and regularly posting updates for fans.
“Spectre” is shaping up very strongly, armed with over 80 million trailer views across Facebook and YouTube, 400,000 searches as well as 200,000 tweets. Bond is certain to take the top spot with a total up to $75 million.
“Peanuts,” 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot Prediction: $52 million
Alongside Bond, “Peanuts” should also enjoy a very healthy weekend at the box office. The 20th Century Fox movie also has a Snapchat milestone to its name, having created a customized Snapchat lens for the movie, which allows users to create animated selfies. Set to the classic theme tune, the animation featured Woodstock bouncing on the user’s head while candy corn streams out of their mouth, with a prancing Snoopy alongside. “Peanuts” sponsored the lens, along with two geo-filters on Halloween to drive maximum engagement on a day where the app enjoys high traffic.
Fans were able to indulge in more personalized marketing with the “Peanutize Me” mini-site, where you can create a version of yourself or your friends as a character from Charles M. Schulz’s classic cartoon. The popularity of the site lead to it trend across social media as fans created over 7 million characters. You can also turn any phrase you like into the infamous teacher “Wah-Wah” voice that so often berated Charlie Brown in the cartoons.
On Twitter, “Peanuts” used a number of eventized hashtags and partnered with key influencers to create full day activations, live event commentary and pop-culture relevant surrounds to increase tweet volume and engagement. Notable influencers included the likes of Snoop Dogg and Bryan Singer, who helped in celebrating Snoopy’s birthday. The movie has also been actively building an Instagram following, clocking up more than 100k followers so far.
Traditionally, animated movies play well at this time of year and “Peanuts” has a whole treasure trove of nostalgic goodwill to draw on. This should see Snoopy and Co. enjoy an impressive haul over the $50 million mark for the weekend.
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 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.