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.
“Insurgent” will ride a wave of engagement to top this weekend’s box office, and looks well placed to spring past the $54.6 million opening of last year’s “Divergent.” The social campaign for “Insurgent” has pushed the envelope in leveraging new platforms and technologies to appeal to younger audiences, particularly the young female demo which will be key in deciding the movie’s box office fate.
“Insurgent” explored the future of social with the “Shatter Reality” VR experience, in which fans could immerse themselves either on the road or at home by downloading the app — which included an exclusive movie clip. Snapchat also featured heavily in the campaign, with a series of influencer activations with popular snappers like ChrisCarm and Miologie, who created interactive Snapchat Stories inspired by “Insurgent” and inviting fans to engage.
Activating fans is the key to any social campaign — something Lionsgate has proved adept at with lauded efforts for the “Hunger Games,” and “Insurgent” has done this by inviting fans to submit art to display on the official tumblr page. Buzzfeed also tapped into the internet’s love for gifs with a series of Ansel Elgort reaction shots, tailor made for tumblr consumption.
“Insurgent” has seen a massive surge on Twitter this week, topping 700,000 tweets. This dwarfs the 450,000 of “Divergent,” and “Insurgent” also leads on YouTube with over 10 million more views. Added to that, YouTube Buzz is exceptionally high at 0.70%, on a par with 0.71% for “Mockingjay.” However, “Insurgent” has less search activity than “Divergent,” suggesting less general interest outside the core fanbase, but still putting “Insurgent” on course for an opening in the mid-to-high 50s.
“The Gunman,” Open Road
Moviepilot Prediction: $7 million
Sean Penn tries his hand at being an action star in “The Gunman,” which will look to attract older audiences not flocking to “Insurgent” or the second weekend of “Cinderella.” “The Gunman” has employed an interesting strategy with content across tumblr, Vine and Q&As on Twitter. On search “The Gunman” is shaping up similarly to Kevin Costner’s “3 Day to Kill” which opened to $8 million, and around half the size of Liam Neeson’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” suggesting a weekend around the $7 million mark.
“Do You Believe?” CanZion Films
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million
“Do You Believe?” is the latest attempt at tapping the faith-based crowd at the box office. From the producers of “God’s Not Dead,” “Do You Believe?” will place its trust in above-average buzz scores on YouTube (0.75%) and Facebook (78% PTAT). So with highly relatable “Heaven Is For Real” clocking $22.5 million back in April 2014 with about four times the social chatter, we anticipate a haul of about $6 million for “Do You Believe?” We’d aim lower if not for an impressive 3.6 million Facebook video views, many more than were amassed on YouTube.
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 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 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.