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.
“Taken 3,” 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot Prediction: $31 million
Full disclosure: Moviepilot worked with 20th Century Fox on this title
Liam Neeson returns for a third and probably final time as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent-turned-doting father who has propelled Neeson’s career renaissance as a bona-fide action star in the “Taken” series.
“Taken 3” plays on what fans love most about the franchise: tough-talking phone calls, high-octane action sequences and Neeson defeating an army of tattooed henchmen in hand-to-hand combat. The sequel has capitalized on Neeson’s cult status with a gifkeyboard allowing fans to express themselves expressly through the language of “Taken” gifs, and Bryan Mills’ special set of skills have been celebrated by creating a LinkedIn profile for the security expert — having seen him in action, I’ve endorsed him for “Firearms” and “Physical Security.”
Last time around, “Taken 2” opened with a massive $49.5 million, capitalizing on the enduring popularity of the first movie. So how will the series finale fare? Last year Neeson appeared twice as the aging hardman in “Non-Stop” and “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” which opened to $28.8 million and $12.7 million, respectively. “Taken 3” is tracking ahead of both those titles, with 108,000 searches to 97,800 for “Non-Stop” and 58,600 for “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” The 10% lead over “Non-Stop” suggests that Neeson will be taking more than $30 million this weekend.
Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 28 million Facebook fans and 20 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 Sony, 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.