Digital Tracking: ‘Steve Jobs,’ ‘Last Witch Hunter’ Battle for Box Office Dominance

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

Digital Tracking: 'Steve Jobs,' 'Last Witch
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

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 Last Witch Hunter,” Lionsgate/Summit
Moviepilot Prediction: $10 million

“The Last Witch Hunter” sees Vin Diesel starring as a witch-slaying warrior on the streets of NYC. The wider witch hunter universe has been fleshed out with in-world features representing the two factions present in the movie, The Axe & Cross, and The Witches Brood, as well as prologue videos created by talented Deviantart creators building up the backstory.

“The Last Witch Hunter” has also had a presence delivered via social influencers on Instagram, Snapchat and through Playboy. The “Witch Hunter” facial recognition app was another interesting installment in the direction of personalized movie marketing, similar to the “Straight Outta” campaign from this summer. “The Last Witch Hunter” has developed a solid presence on social with 55,700 searches and 35,700 tweets, which should see it open over the $10 million mark.

“Steve Jobs,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $9 million

If every iPhone user in the U.S. bought a ticket to see “Steve Jobs” this weekend, the movie would open over $100 million. While that figure may not come to pass, the intriguing story behind the man who created Apple will certainly draw in a large audience as this Danny Boyle-directed biopic finally opens wide. “Jobs” has played well in limited theaters, but a more limited scope of appeal should see it open just shy of “The Last Witch Hunter” this weekend.

“Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $12 million

The fifth installment in the “Paranormal Activity” franchise is an interesting case as Paramount has announced that the feature will enjoy a shorter theatrical window in order to come to home entertainment sooner. This may cut into theatrical gains, but could give the title a longer shelflife overall. “Ghost Dimension” has performed solidly so far and should be set for a start around $12 million.

Jem and the Holograms,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $5 million

“Jem and the Holograms” is Universal’s second entry this weekend, based off the ’80s cartoon. While a $5 million start might seem underwhelming, this micro-budget movie should more than make back its budget off the back off over 5 million trailer views.


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.