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.
“The Boy Next Door,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $22 million
Last summer Jennifer Lopez made a splash upon her return to music with “Booty” alongside Iggy Azalea, and now she’s back on the bigscreen in “The Boy Next Door,” a sexy thriller in which a cheeky affair turns into a dangerous liaison. “American Sniper” will take the top spot again, but “The Boy Next Door” has the social stats to take second place with over $20 million.
The combination of J.Lo and Ryan Guzman (of the “Step Up” franchise) along with a strong hook suggests that “The Boy Next Door” should play well with the influential Hispanic demographic, particularly to females over 25. Lopez has wide appeal, as shown by her enormous 30 million Twitter following, plus another 10 million on Instagram. The movie itself has gathered 20,000 Instagram followers, an impressive showing for an original title. “The Boy Next Door” also has enjoyed endorsements from other celebs with a large following behind them: sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian.
“The Boy Next Door” is shaping up strongly on Twitter with 105,000 tweets, which will be a key indicator for its weekend performance. It’s just ahead of “No Good Deed,” at 100,000 tweets, which opened to $24.3 million, and around 2.5X ahead of “Addicted,” which bowed with $7.4 million. The J.Lo thriller is in line to clock $22 million.
Moviepilot Prediction: $7 million
What to do with Johnny Depp? Having scaled the “Pirates of the Caribbean” heights and plumbed the “Lone Ranger” depths, it’s hard to say exactly how his movies will fare these days. Depp stars here as the eccentric Charlie Mortdecai, whose choice of facial foliage has permeated the entire campaign, including via a partnership with the Art of Shaving. The titular character has his own playful Twitter account with more than 21,000 followers, as well as a rumor-mill game (apparently I’m a “morally corrupt Lothario” — well, there’s no smoke without fire). When stacked up against Depp’s previous effort, “Transcendence,” “Mortdecai” is tracking at around 30% behind the cyber-thriller, suggesting an opening around $7 million.
“Strange Magic,” Disney
Moviepilot Prediction: $4 million
“Strange Magic” is from the mind of George Lucas, which alone should make it worth a look for some moviegoers. Influencers Miranda Sings and Zach King both created posts inspired by the movie, encouraging their millions of followers to catch it this weekend. Socially, “Strange Magic” is shaping up closely to “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” which opened to about $4 million last year. “Strange Magic” has 12,100 tweets and 26,200 searches compared with 15,000 tweets and 24,000 searches for “Legends of Oz,” hinting at a $4 million opening as well for Lucas’ animated fantasy.
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 including 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.