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.
“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $48 million
The Queen of England should bestow a knighthood on the creator of the “Mission: Impossible” Snapchat filter. The image layover plays off the app’s ephemeral nature by incorporating the franchise’s classic line, “This message will self-destruct in X seconds,” producing a beautiful synthesis of technology and marketing. This was part of a larger Snapchat initiative where the official “Mission: Impossible” account hosted a “MIssion Month,” leveraging Snapchat influencers and engaging fans to take part in 24-hour “self-destructing” missions, all introduced personally by Tom Cruise. These programs have driven well over 65 million impressions on the platform.
“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” has also been integrated with up-and-coming Berlin-based app Dubsmash, where users can mime along to the best one-liners from the movie and share the short clips across their social media profiles. The app has become a hot property over the past year due to high-profile celebrities adopting it as well as mass uptake among the public.
One of the strongest selling points for the movie is that the stunts were all real, including a classic car chase through Casablanca and Tom Cruise flying through the air strapped to the outside of a plane — that scene shows up in a comedy video shot with Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. The real stunts also inspired a hilarious video by daredevil YouTubers “Dude Perfect,” which has already racked up more than 2 million views.
“Rogue Nation” has solid stats going into the weekend, with more than 100,000 tweets and searches each. However, we’d expect positive word-of-mouth to inspire more chatter as the weekend goes on, pushing the movie to a total just short of $50 million.
“Vacation,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $15 million (3-day)
“Vacation” already has several million dollars under its belt having debuted on Wednesday, and the laffer looks set to carry on successfully for second place over the weekend. The remake has received a ringing endorsement from the star of the original, Chevy Chase, and has scored millions of views on a series of hilarious clips and trailers.
This time out the leading man is Ed Helms, who has been active across his own social channels, as well as taking part in Q&As with IMDB and AOL Build. And, of course, Mr. Helms has also been Dubsmashing away — check out his take on Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose.”
At 30,000 tweets over the last week, “Vacation” is sitting on a par with “Tammy,” which scored $21.6 million over its opening weekend. However, “Vacation” has clocked up almost 20 million trailer views across Facebook and Twitter, which could see it outstrip that total across the span of its 5-day opening. Expect a three-day take in the mid-teens, which should set up a $20 million+ opening frame.
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 Sony.
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 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.